4 August 2006 – Israeli troops today kept up their operations around Gaza’s international airport, forcing Palestinians to flee to safety, the United Nations said, while also highlighting Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel and ongoing tensions in the West Bank, which remained closed for a fifth consecutive day.
Almost 2,000 Palestinians are already being sheltered by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the agency is opening an additional facility to deal with more people fleeing the violence and also overnight Israeli air strikes, UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told reporters.
“An IDF (Israeli Defence Force) incursion around the Gaza International Airport is continuing… [also] there have been two IAF (Israeli Air Force) air strikes in Gaza City overnight following earlier phone calls received by the residents warning that their homes were going to be targeted by the Israeli air force.”
“Eight homemade rockets were fired by Palestinians towards Israel in the last 24 hours,” he added.
Turning to the other part of the occupied Palestinian territory, the West Bank, Mr. Fawzi said “heightened tensions” were continuing and security forces are still preventing most people from entering Israel, even if they have the correct paperwork.
“On the West Bank the external closure has continued for a fifth day – that is, since 31 July. Palestinians with West Bank ID cards and valid permits to enter Israel have not been allowed to enter Israel, including workers and traders.”
“Our Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) field officers have reported continued heightened tensions throughout the West Bank, including more protests about the situation in Lebanon.”
Yesterday, UN humanitarian agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory issued a statement sounding alarm about the ongoing fighting there and reminding all parties of their obligation under international humanitarian law to protect civilians.