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Clashes continue in the Gaza Strip and West Bank as Israeli government threatens escalation of violence.



Release no. 6

Two More Die in Gaza Strip from Injuries Sustained During

26 September Massacre

Published @ 12.00 GMT (14.00 local time) 1 October 1996

This morning the number of Palestinians killed as a result of the violent clashes that engulfed the Gaza Strip on Thursday, September 26, has risen to 28 after the deaths of two more who were seriously injured by Israeli forces.

On Tuesday, 1 October, 1996 two Palestinians who were critically injured by Israeli forces on 26 September died at Shifa’ Hospital in Gaza City. Tamer Mohammed Al-Masri, 13 years old, was shot in the head by Israeli forces during confrontations on Thursday at Erez Checkpoint and died at 01.40 today. Mohammed Sa’id ‘Abdullah Shilayel, a 26-year-old policeman with the National Security forces who was also shot in the head by Israeli forces at Erez checkpoint, died at 08.15 today.

Of the 28 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during the 26 September confrontations, 19 were civilians and 9 were police officers. Eleven more Palestinians who were seriously injured during the confrontations remain in intensive care at Shifa’ Hospital and at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

The Israeli authorities have imposed a total closure on the Gaza Strip since 26 September, banning the passage of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip. Under the pretext of security, the Israeli authorities have also imposed strict restrictions on the passage to and from the Gaza Strip of foreign nationals, and on the passage of both Israeli and other foreign journalists. These restrictions should be considered in light of the fact that journalists were allowed free access to cover the Gaza Strip during the period of the Palestinian Intifada.

Additionally, the Israeli authorities have imposed a strict closure on the “yellow areas” (in which Israel retains direct control over security) near Rafah and Khan Younis, and on areas near Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. This closure has prevented virtually all movement of goods and Palestinian residents in and out of these areas. Among those affected by this closure are 300 students who are unable to attend their schools in Rafah and Khan Younis. The Israeli authorities have also denied Palestinian fishermen in Rafah and Khan Younis access to the sea.

In another serious development, on Sunday, 29 September, the Israeli authorities refused to allow 14 patients from Gaza to exit the Gaza Strip in order to be treated in hospitals in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. These patients are suffering from life-threatening conditions for which there is no treatment in Gaza, such as cancer, heart disease, and renal failure.

The patients were forced to wait at Erez Checkpoint from 08.00 to 14.00 before being refused passage to Israel by the Israeli forces. The Israeli soldiers ordered these patients out of the ambulances and extensively searched both the ambulances and the patients before ordering the ambulances to return to Gaza.

In addition to the threat posed to Palestinian civilians by the Israeli closure, Israeli forces have drastically augmented their military forces in the Gaza Strip, causing some Palestinians to liken the situation to a new Southern Lebanon. After the events of 26 September, Israel has implemented “Operation Field of Thorns,” reinforcing the Israeli military presence in the Occupied Territories. During the last several days, Israel has deployed tanks, armoured personnel carriers, attack helicopters, snipers, and additional ranks of soldiers in the Gaza Strip, and its forces remain on extremely high alert.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights warns that the situation remains extremely volatile, as the underlying causes of the violence have not been addressed. Indeed, the actions enumerated above, including the continuation of the Israeli policy of closure, endanger the lives of Palestinian civilians and only serve to further exacerbate tensions and to increase Palestinian frustration and anger.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls upon the international community to intervene to protect the lives and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population, and to press the Israeli government to fulfil its obligations under the IV Geneva Convention and under signed peace agreements.