Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter


"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: Amnesty International
8 November 2006



AI Index: MDE 15/087/2006 (Public)
News Service No: 288
8 November 2006

Israel/Occupied Territories: Amnesty International delegate visits scene of Gaza Strip killings


The killing this morning of 18 civilians in the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun, victims of Israeli shelling, was an appalling act, Amnesty International said today. The organization called for an immediate, independent investigation and for those responsible to be held accountable. It said previous Israeli investigations, such as that carried out into the killings of a Palestinian family on a beach in the Gaza Strip last June, had been seriously inadequate and failed to meet international standards for such investigations, which must be independent, impartial and thorough.

Those killed, most of whom were asleep in their beds when their homes were struck by shells fired by Israeli forces, included eight children. An Amnesty International delegate who visited the scene of the killings shortly after the attack was told that 15 of the victims were killed in the first strike and that three others were killed by a second shell as they raced to help the dead and injured.

“This terrible act follows a renewed upsurge in killings of Palestinians since Israel forces launched their latest military operation into the Gaza Strip on 2 November,“ said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme. “Israeli actions during this entire operation have been marked by nothing less than reckless disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, over 20 of whom had been killed even before this morning’s tragedy.”

In all, before today’s deaths, more than 53 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli military siege of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, and many more were wounded. Two ambulance workers were among the civilians killed. Dubbed “Autumn clouds”by the Israeli army, the operation began on 2 November and continued until 7 November when Israeli forces redeployed outside the town. Israeli authorities said they mounted the operation in an attempt to prevent Palestinian armed groups firing home-made Qassem rockets at Israeli towns and villages near to the Gaza Strip. Most of the dead were killed in Beit Hanoun, which was kept under siege throughout the six days, but others were killed as a result of Israeli military strikes in the surrounding area.

Amnesty International condemns all attacks on unarmed civilians and is calling on the Israeli authorities to establish independent investigations into every incident in which Palestinian civilians were killed or injured by Israeli forces, and to bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations.

As Israeli forces began their siege of Beit Hanoun, one senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Yarom, said that troops had been instructed to avoid causing civilian casualties. Four days into the operation, in face of a rising toll of deaths and injuries among Palestinian civilians, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared:


“Those Palestinians who have been wounded were mostly armed, but, to our regret,they are using innocent people as human shields, resulting in the injury of uninvolved civilians as well”.

The information gathered by Amnesty International delegates currently in the Gaza Strip contradicts this, however, and indicates that at least half of those killed, including at least two women and several children, were unarmed bystanders not involved in the confrontations. The pattern is the same for those injured as a result of Israeli force air strikes and artillery shelling.

Those killed or injured as a result of Israeli attacks include:

Palestinian ambulances have been frequently attacked and dozens have been hit by Israeli strikes in recent years. During the siege of Beit Hanoun, emergency rescue workers faced increased obstacles and delays in carrying out their duties due to the virtually continuous curfew imposed by Israeli forces. Israeli tanks controlled the access to Beit Hanoun hospital and delayed the passage of ambulances in and out of the hospital, as well as into and out of the town.
For interviews, please contact Amnesty International's researcher Donatella Rovera in Gaza on +970 599 446 703 or +44 7771 796 091, or Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa press officer Nicole Choueiry on +44 7831 640 170


Public Document
****************************************
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web:
http://www.amnesty.org

For latest human rights news view
http://news.amnesty.org


Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter