Friday, February 12, 2010

Palestinians detained near Gaza-Israel border

Gaza – Ma'an – Israeli forces detained at least six Palestinians in northern Gaza on Thursday, witnesses said and the army confirmed.

Onlookers said 10 Palestinian men scavenging for iron girders northeast of Beit Lahiya were seized and dragged into Israel by soldiers patrolling the border. They were rummaging through the rubble of buildings, and were loaded into military vehicles and taken to an undisclosed location, the witnesses said.

Approached by Ma'an, an Israeli military spokesman said six Palestinians were detained when they came close an area considered off-limits to Palestinians. He said they were released shortly thereafter.

Residents of the area said Israeli soldiers opened fire on workers Wednesday, with no injuries reported.

As Israel and Egypt continue to ban all but 36 types of goods for import into Gaza, most of which are foodstuffs, the only construction material currently permitted into the area are limited numbers of glass panes, to replace those blown out during Israel's Operation Cast Lead last year. Freezing temperatures overnight and makeshift window patch jobs have created dire conditions for many Gazans.

Others whose homes were destroyed have reconstructed some parts with mud brick, an initiative pioneered by the de facto government in the rebuilding of its government and police headquarters in Gaza City. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), charged with care of Palestinian refugees until a just solution to the refugee issue is reached, began building mud-brick homes in the summer.

A few dozen Palestinian and international protesters approached the same area on Sunday, drawing fire from Israeli forces operating an "exclusion zone" inside the coastal enclave's borders.

Israeli armed forces fired four gunshots when the group approached an area near the Erez crossing, said Saber Az-Za'anin, coordinator of Local Initiative, a Beit Hanoun-based organization seeking to reclaim some 300 meters of privately owned farmland.

An Israeli military spokesman told Ma'an that "IDF soldiers identified a suspicious gathering in a restricted area in the northern Gaza. Soldiers responded according to procedures by firing warning shots in the air."

A few weeks ago, Israeli aircraft dropped warning flyers over the Gaza Strip reiterating that Palestinians were banned from approaching the zones, which are inside Gaza but along the periphery.

The area of Beit Hanoun, located in northeastern Gaza, suffered significant destruction during the Israeli military assault that began in late December 2008. Many houses were completely destroyed and no buildings were left standing anywhere near the border.
   Al Mezan Condemns IOF Attacks on Gaza; Calls Calls for International Intervention to Ensure Protection of Civilians

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has escalated its attacks against the Gaza Strip. The IOF have shelled the Gaza International Airport, Palestinian fishermen, and Palestinian workers who were removing rubble from the industrial area in North Gaza District during the last few days. Today, Thursday 11 February 2010, the IOF  escalated its aggression and killed four Palestinians and injured four, including a child. The IOF also arrested ten Palestinian workers; Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights was able to identify seven of their names.

According to Al Mezan's field investigations, at approximately 10:15am on Thursday 11 February 2010, an Israeli reconnaissance drone launched a missile at a group of Palestinian people who were near 'Ubied Gas Station in Ash-Shija'ia neighborhood eastern Gaza City. As a result, Faris Akram Ahmed Jabir,27, who lives in Al Jalaa Street in the north of Gaza city, was killed and another person from As-Saftawi neighborhood was injured. According to medical sources at Shifa Hospital, he sustained severe injuries.

In a separate incident, at app. 7:20am on Thursday 11 February 2010, the IOFs, positioned at the separation fence,  fired artillery shells at the northwest area of the Gaza Valley east of Deir Al Balah District. One of the Israeli missiles hit the house of Ismail Salamn Silmi At-Trabien,45. As a result, three of his children were injured as they were preparing themselves to school. Al Mezan Identified their names as follows:

·         Mona Ismail At-Trabien,5, (she sustained shrapnel in the head and the neck);

·         Ahlam Ismail At-Trabien, 11, (sustained burns in the head); and

·         Afaf Ismail At-Trabien, 12, (sustained shrapnel in the head and the face.

They were admitted to Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al Balah. The IOF also penetrated about 300m to the west in the vicinity of the skip in the northeast of the Gaza Valley. The IOF are still  the area, by the time of publishing  this press release. People in the area can still hear the sounds of shelling..

At approximately 7am on Thursday 11 February 2010, Israeli infantry troops penetrated about 200m inside the As-Saiafa area northwest Beith Lahyia in the North Gaza District.  The IOF chased a group of Palestinian workers who were removing rubble from the area and arrested 10 of them, and took them to Israel. Al Mezan Identified some of their names as follows:

Jebril Ma'arouf ,17;

Joma'a Ma'arouf,18;

Khamis Ma'arouf, 27;

Saqir Ma'arouf, 20;

Ghassan Ma'arouf, 33; Khalid Refa'at As-Sous, 25; and

Aziz As-Sous,33.

According to Al Mezan's field investigations, the IOF has escalated its attacks against the Palestinian workers who were removing the rubble of destroyed buildings. These workers collect rubble to sell it to brick factories which recycle it into bricks. This is the only source of bricks for construction that is available in the Gaza Strip, which suffers from an acute shortage of construction materials due the Israeli siege.

Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights strongly condemns the IOF's violations of the rules of international law in Gaza.

Al Mezan also expresses its outrage for the continued lack of any meaningful international protection of Gaza's population. This has, as a point of fact, encouraged the IOF to continue its serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Gaza, and the occupied Palestinian territory for too long. Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to uphold their moral and legal obligations and take action to bring to a swift end the violations of international law and the illegal collective punishment.