Question of Palestine home
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
12 April 2006
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have fired more than 2,300 artillery and tank shells into the Gaza Strip since 29 March, more than 150 shells a day. This intensified IDF shelling comes as Palestinians over the same period fired more than 67 home made rockets (around 5/day) and an alleged Katyusha rocket (a longer range rocket) that was found south of Ashqelon on 28 March.
The shelling has been concentrated in the northern Gaza Strip – As Siafa in the northwest, Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the north/northeast and areas east of Jabalia camp in the north and Gaza City.
Over the same period, the Israel Air Force (IAF) launched 34 missiles inside the Gaza Strip targeting wanted people, buildings, roads and other infrastructure.
Seventeen Palestinians have been killed, among them two children in artillery shelling and missile strikes since 29 March. One was a five-year-old boy, killed together with his father when an IAF aircraft targeted a training base used by Palestinian militants in Rafah on 7 April. An eight-year-old girl was killed and eight children from her family injured when an artillery shell hit her family’s house in Beit Lahia on 10 April.
At least 62 Palestinians have been injured, including one woman and 11 children. One Israeli was also injured after a home made rocket was fired from inside the Gaza Strip and landed south of Ashqelon on 6 April.
The continuous firing of artillery shells and launching of IAF missiles are causing immense psycho-social strain on the Gaza population, especially on children. There are also additional risks from unexploded shells, particularly Palestinian farmers and shepherds and for children playing in the fields. Residents of As Siafa, for instance, reported that 15 shells out of a total of 200 that landed in the area in the three days from 30 March to 1 April, have not exploded.
Artillery shelling is severely impacting communities in the northern areas. For example, more than half of the total 45 families in As Siafa have now moved to safer areas in other parts of the Gaza Strip.
Buildings and roads have been damaged, including along northern areas of the coastal road, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, and in Gaza City. Three structures have been destroyed and eight structures have been damaged.