Sunday, January 18, 2009

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights: Situation on the Ground is Catastrophic

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Gaza, press release, January 18, 2009 - Al Mezan Center's staff visited some of the areas the Israeli Offense Forces (IOF) left last night and this morning. It found out that a disaster had struck these areas, which had not been accessible for weeks. The findings provide evidence about the likelihood that the IOF had perpetrated war crimes in these areas. In particular, dozens of civilians' corpses have been found in bad condition under the rubble of destroyed houses. Moreover, the scene of destruction of neighborhoods suggests that wide-scaled home demolitions were systematically conducted by the IOF.

Al Mezan Center's field workers reported that entire urban blocks have disappeared in the areas of Ezbet Abed-Rabu, As-Salatin, Al-Atatra, Al-Israa' in North Gaza District, and Al-Kashif and Al-Rayis Hills and the eastern suburbs of Gaza City. As of 2Pm, medical teams had found 62 corpses of people under the rubble of houses, or rubble moved by Israeli bulldozers. Of them were 8 children and 10 women. It is not known yet whether those were buried under the rubble alive or dead.

According to Al Mezan Center's monitoring, the IOF has breached the unilaterally declared ceasefire. Shooting and shelling from artillery batteries, tanks and naval vessels have occurred in various areas throughout the day. Israeli aircrafts also launched raids on open areas. At 10:30am, Israeli troops opened fire at civilians who were trying to reach their homes in Khuza'a village, east to Khan Younis. A man, 22-year-old Mahir Abu Irjila, was killed as a result. The victim and his family had evacuated their house and stayed in a UN shelter.

With these casualties, the number of Palestinians killed by the IOF in the Gaza Strip since the start of Operation Cast Lead on 27 December 2009 has risen to 1,253; including at least 280 children and 95 women. Another 4,009 people were injured; including 860 children and 488 women....

Al Mezan expresses its outrage by the facts it has found in those areas which the IOF had invaded more than two weeks ago. The findings proved that the fears that civilians and civilians property in these areas had been treated in cruel ways. Dozens of corpses have been brought to hospitals with increasing allegations that civilians were killed or left to die as the IOF refrained from making any efforts to aid the wounded or survivors. Al Mezan condemns this practice, which represents a serious violation of international law and norms of armed conflict....

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