Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thorough reporting of the ravages, casualties and likely war crimes by Israel in Gaza

If you are following the Gaza war then you know well that much of the material available is weak on facts. Israel has excluded journalists from Gaza to reduce the glare of publicity as it decimates the infrastructure of Gaza, and to shield the Israeli army while plays fast and loose with rules of engagement. Even if the international media were on the ground, let's face it, the dangers posed by the IDF would make reporting very hazardous. The result would be that a lot of reporting would be shaped by English speaking Israeli officials working in the service of IDF PR.

The by now ramshackle Hamas PR machinery is similarly intent getting its own messages across, and it would probably require a death wish for a foreign reporter to try to "imbed" with Hamas under the threat of the IDF killing machine.

As noted here, one UN agency has been providing valuable and objective daily reports, but they tend to be thin on details. Thus, it is important to draw attention to the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights that is providing some extraordinarily detail reporting on casualties, targeted areas and the weapons being used by the IDF, including white phosphorus. I include an excerpt from the report for January 12, 2009, below. Go the website (in English and Arabic) for more more data.

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights

Date: 12 Jan 2009

IOF Continues Targeting Civilians in Gaza; Death Toll Rises to 876 and More Civilian Premises Destroyed

2:30PM Gaza Time (+2hrs GMT)

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has escalated its war on the Gaza Strip for the 17th consecutive day, during which it has acted in violation of the rules of international law relevant to conflict and belligerent occupation, motivated by the failure of the international community to stand for the principles and rules itself had set. There is evidence indicating the perpetration of grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War.

IOF's attacks on civilian targets, public infrastructure, and border areas have brought about enormous destruction of private property and infrastructure, as well as unprecedented loss of life. According to Al Mezan's careful monitoring, the IOF has killed at least 876 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the start of its Operation Cast Lead on 27 December 2009. This number includes at least 186 children and 61 women. This number is restricted to those whom Al Mezan has verified and double-checked. The Center estimates that between 200 and 240 children have been killed. Many of those have still been under the rubble of houses under areas under IOF's invasion. Moreover, tens of children who were killed on the first day of the attacks have not yet been verified; therefore, the Center prefers to wait until they are accounted for properly. Six of those who were killed by IOF were ambulance crewmen, who were killed while trying to reach victims of IOF's attacks. The number also includes 3 journalists and dozens of elderly people. Al Mezan estimates that at least 85% of the casualties were civilian non-combatants.

Moreover, at least 3,080 people have been injured and/or maimed during the same period. This number includes at least 634 children and 395 women.

During the IOF's military operations, it directly targeted 172 houses with guided missiles and shells. However, the number of houses that have been completely destroyed in these attacks is at least 472 houses. Another 3,000 to 4,000 houses have been partially destroyed. The IOF also destroyed 38 mosques; 13 of which were directly and wantonly targeted. 39 schools were damaged, of which 5 (and one university) were directly targeted. IOF attacks also destroyed 42 public civilian facilities; including CBO offices and quasi-governmental institutions. Furthermore, it destroyed 107 privately owned workshops and small industrial and commercial plants. IOF also destroyed 90 police and security installations and 25 sites that were used for military purposes by armed groups.

The above figures do not account for the attacks that targeted open areas and fields, or the dozens of bodies that remain under the rubble of in areas under IOF's invasion; especially in eastern Gaza City, eastern Beit Lahia and Jabalia as well as the eastern borders of Khan Younis, Rafah and middle Gaza district.

1. North Gaza District:

At approximately 2pm Saturday, 10 January Israeli aircrafts fired a missile at a group of young men in the As-Salatin area, west of Beit Lahia, killing Ahmad Ibrahim Jum'a, 25, and Umar Jum'a, 19.

At approximately 2:30pm also Saturday, IOF troops stationed in the town of Beit Hanoun opened fire at the Al-Bora neighborhood, killing an 18-year-old girl, Nariman Abdul-Karim Abu Odeh from a live bullet to her chest.

At approximately 4:20pm Saturday, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a small crowd near Barrawi gas station in Beit Lahia, injuring a 40-year-old pregnant women; Wafa' Al-Masri, and another 24-year-old woman, Ghada Al-Masri. The pregnant woman had to abort her fetus and had her leg amputated. The other woman had both her legs amputated.

At approximately 4:45pm Saturday, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the As-Sultan apartment compound in Jabalia town. The compound's residents started to evacuate it. However, IOF fired artillery shells at the entrance of the compound as people were evacuating, killing three of them, two of whom were children. They were identified as:

- Ali Kamal Al-Nuthor, 12;

- Amer Kamal Al- Nuthor, 15; and

- Shadi Fatho Ijneed, 27.

Another 11 people were injured, including one child.

At approximately 5:25pm Saturday, IOF troops stationed in Jabalia fired 8 artillery shells towards the eastern parts of the town. Al Mezan's field worker reported that the shells were used for the first time. After hitting the ground, a light bounced from each shell, not very high from the ground. As they landed, they caused fires around it.

About 30 minutes later, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a crowd in Beit Lahia. One man was critically injured, as a result. At 6:45pm, an aircraft fired a missile at the house of Nafiz Al-Helu in northern Beit Lahia, killing two of its residents and injuring three, including a woman and a child. Those who were killed were identified as:

- Mohammed Nafiz Al-Helu, 22; and (his sister)

- Ameena Nafiz Al-Helu, 18.

Two minutes after, aircraft fired missile at the Beit Lahia Park, destroying it.

At approximately 7:20pm Saturday, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a crowd of people who were sitting in front of a house in their neighborhood, killing 3 and injuring 6, including a 2-month-old baby. Those who were killed were:

- Rami Jamal Salman, 21;

- Abdul-Mu'ti Ratib Sulaiman, 20; and

- Sami Umar, 35.

At approximately 8:25pm Saturday, Israeli aircrafts raided a house owned by the Rayyan family in Jabalia, destroying it and damaging three neighboring houses. No casualties or injuries were reported in this raid.

At approximately 10:10pm Saturday, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Waheed Ahmad in Jabalia refugee camp. The house was destroyed and three neighboring houses damaged; however, no casualties or injuries were reported in this raid.

At approximately 2am on Sunday, 11 January 2009, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a crowd of residents of the Al-Karama apartment compound, killing Ibrahim Ayish Salman, 25. When neighbors tried to help the victim, a second missile was fired at them, killing Ala' Fathi Bashir, 40, and his 18-year-old son, Sohaib. Yet, when neighbors tried to help them, aircrafts fired a third missile, killing a 40-year-old woman, Lamia's Hasan Bashir, and another 75-year-old woman, Jamila Hassan Zyadeh. Four other people were injured in this attack.

At approximately 3:35am on Sunday, Israeli troops fired an artillery shell at the Al-Karama area. The shell hit the house of Mohammed Khalaf and killed his cousins, Ibrahim Mohammed Khalaf, 35, and Bilal Yihia Khalaf. 25 minutes later, an Israeli aircraft raided the house of Tawfik Saqir, which is located near the Beit Lahia market. The house was destroyed completely and five neighboring houses were damaged.

At approximately 9:30 am on Sunday, 11 January 2009, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a crowd of children who were near the Olo Al-Azm Mosque in the north of Beit Lahia, killing the four of them; three girls and a boy. They were identified as:

- Haitham Yasser Ma'rouf, 12;

- Fatima Mohammed Ma'rouf, 16;

- Khawla Ramadan Ghabin, 16; and (her sister)

- Samar Ramadan Ghabin, 14.

On the next day, the body 14-year-old Abdul-Rahma Ghabin was found, raising the casualties of this attack to 5 children. According to Al Mezan Center's investigations, these children belong to families who had evacuated their homes and took shelter in the Al-Fakhora School, which was shelled by the IOF. They went back home with their parents to pick some clothing and other necessities and return to the shelter.

At 10am on the same day, medical sources at Shifa Hospital announced the death of 51-year-old Abdul-Hakim As-Sultan, who was injured inside his house in the As-Salatin areas western Beit Lahia.

At approximately 11:45am on Sunday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at the Al-Jurun neighborhood in Jabalia. One shell hit the house of Khalid Abid, killing his 25-year-old son Khalid, and injuring 20-year-old daughter Shahira.

Later, at approximately 1.10pm Sunday, IOF troops fired artillery shells that hit houses in eastern Jabalia, killing Hueesin Nazmi Abu Sultan, 40, inside his house.

At approximately 3:05pm on Sunday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at the Al-Bora neighborhood in Beit Hanoun, injuring a child inside her house. She was identified as Dalia Fareed Abu Odeh, 12. Another woman, Iman Sami Nusair, was injured.

At approximately 3:35pm on Sunday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at eastern Jabalia, killing a 12-year-old boy, Mus'ab Abdul-Muhsin Khadir, and a 15-year-old girl, Amal Najeeb Alloush. Another 5 people were also injured.

At 4pm on the same day, the Emergency Administration at Kamal Udwan Hospital announced that four of its ambulances stopped as a result of the shortage in fuel.

At approximately 7:pm on Sunday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at the Mas'oud Street in Janalia town, killing a 1-and-a-half-year-old girl, Tasnim Yasser Al-Rafat, inside her house. Another young man, 19-year-old Mohammed Khadir, was also killed inside his house in the area.

Between 7:50pm Sunday and 4pm Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided three houses in Jabalia a and Beit Lahia, destroying them completely and damaging 12 houses. The targeted houses were owned by Ibrahim Lubad and Zyad Al-Masri, from Beit Lahia, and Yousef Ghbeet from Jabalia.

At approximately 5am today, Monday 12 January 2009, medical sources announced the death of 33-year-old Sa'id Mahmoud Al-Amawi, who was injured in the IOF shelling of the Al-Fakhora School.

At approximately 5:30am Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Ali Al-Dhai in Jabalia, destroying it completely. Six minutes later, aircrafts raided the house of Mahmoud Abu Matar in Beit Lahia, destroying it and damaging 5 houses near it. One hour later, they raided the house Sheikh Zayid town's park, damageing it and many houses in its vicinity.

At approximately 7:35am Monday, Israeli troops fired artillery shells at houses in eastern Jabalia and Beit Lahia, killing a 34-year-old woman, Afaf Hasan Jum'a, inside her house.

At approximately 7:40am Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided a farm in the Al-Nuzha Street in Jabalia town, injuring 3 girl-children.

At approximately 7:35am Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided the house of Sa'di Al-Jamal in Jabalia, destroying the house and damaging three houses and a kindergarten near it. At 8am, medical sources announced the death of a woman, 22-year-old Amal Al-Madhoun, who was injured on 9 January 2009 by IOF snipers.

At approximately 12:05pm Monday, Israeli aircrafts raided a vegetable stand owned by Yasser Shbair in the Sheikh Zayid town, injuring him critically. Later, the corpse of Khalid Al-Abid, 21, was found in the As-Salatin neighborhood western Beit Lahia.

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