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Gaza witnesses its bloodiest day ever, as the number of  Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip rises to 25.

 

URGENT COMMUNIQUE

Release No. 5

Clashes Continue in the Gaza Strip and West Bank,

As Israeli Government Threatens Escalation of Violence

Published @ 16.00 GMT (18.00 local time) 27 September

As of 18.00 this evening, 14 Palestinians had been injured in Rafah, six in Khan Younis, and two in the middle camps of the Gaza Strip. Israeli helicopter gunners are currently opening fire on civilian areas in Rafah itself. Israeli Defense Force installations are being reinforced within the Gaza Strip, while Israeli soldiers are continuing to use live ammunition against Palestinian civilians.

After a period of calm this morning, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ fieldworkers report that clashes have broken out in Rafah, Khan Younis, and near Kfar Darom settlement in the middle of the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers are using lethal force randomly and the number of injuries is increasing by the hour.

It has been reported that Israeli forces have continued to fire randomly at Palestinians in the West Bank, including at the Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, where it is reported that three Palestinians worshippers were killed today and some 70 injured.

The Prime Minister of Israel’s statement has done little to ease the crisis, provoking angry reaction from the Palestinian community in the Gaza Strip. Binyamin Netanyahu made no concessions concerning the tunnel near Al-Aqsa Mosque and on the other issues which have led to the troubles, and instead accused the Palestinian National Authority of incitement. He made no apology for the extreme violence which has been unleashed by Israeli forces against unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. Indeed, the Israeli Prime Minister commended the actions of Israeli forces and strongly indicated that he would permit an escalation of the violence, and the continued disproportionate use of retaliatory force against Palestinian demonstrators.

The situation in the Occupied Territories remains extremely tense and it is expected that the troubles will continue tonight and into tomorrow, although Palestinians have exercised a great deal of restraint and President Yasser Arafat has called for calm and order. However, it is feared that the continued use of extreme violence by Israeli forces against unarmed Palestinian civilians and the rising number of injuries are pushing tensions even higher.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has written to Boutros Boutros Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations, for urgent and decisive intervention from the Security Council and the international community to ensure that Israel stops the violence and makes concessions on the issues which have caused the conflict. The United Nations Secretary Council will meet tomorrow morning, 28 September 1996, to decide on its course of action.

Our fieldworkers have continued to collect information on the events of yesterday, 26 September 1996. It appears clear that Israel forces began shooting first both at Palestinian demonstrators and police. Violence spread quickly during the early hours of yesterday morning, as Gazans demonstrated against the massacre of Palestinians in the West Bank the day before, and against Israeli policies directed against the Palestinian people, such as the Israeli government’s decision to expand Israeli settlements and the measures threatening the holy places in the Old City. These demonstrations took place in areas throughout the Gaza Strip, and were concentrated around Israeli settlements and in the roads and areas under the direct control of the Israeli forces, including the main border crossing, Erez checkpoint, and along the Egyptian border.

It appears that Israeli forces shot at Palestinian demonstrators who were hurling stones at their barricades. The distance between Israeli soldiers and the demonstrators, as well as other circumstances, show that the use of live ammunition was unwarranted, as no real threat was being posed by Palestinian demonstrators.

Palestinian Police initially became involved when Israeli fire was directed at them and at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. It appears that Palestinian members of the Joint Palestinian-Israeli Coordination Committee intervened to stop Palestinian from throwing stones at Israeli forces at around 07.10 hours local time on the morning of 26 September 1996, near Kfar Darom Israeli Settlement, when Israeli fire was directed at them. Palestinian Police were forced to retaliate to protect themselves and the lives of unarmed Palestinian civilians.

Israeli occupying forces throughout the Gaza Strip acted without control and fired randomly at Palestinian civilians, killing many and wounding hundreds. This is evident from the fact that Israeli fire was directed at the torsos and heads of Palestinians, clearly aiming to kill or grievously injure. Also, high-powered high-calibre automatic weapons were used by Israeli forces. The Israeli forces reinforced their positions with tanks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopters and these were employed to fire indiscriminately into heavily populated in Rafah, Khan Younis, and near Kfar Darom settlement.

Our fieldworkers have also obtained information on fighting across the Egyptian-Israeli border at Rafah. It appears an Egyptian installation was targeted by Israeli forces and fire was directed at Egyptian positions. An Egyptian officer was killed and two Egyptian soldiers were injured.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights established a special field-monitoring team in the early hours of yesterday morning in order to monitor and document events and to report its findings to the operations room at the Palestinian Centre. The information they obtained allowed us to prepare four reports throughout the day yesterday, providing continuous and updated information about the number of killings committed by Israeli forces. According to the most recent information gathered by the Palestinian Centre, the number killed in yesterday’s massacre in the Gaza Strip was 26, including two boys aged 14 and 15 respectively, as well as a girl aged 17. In addition, a police officer from Gaza who was serving in the Bethlehem area was killed on 25 September in clashes in Bethlehem. Of the over 500 who were wounded, many remain hospitalized and in critical condition.

Following is a list of the names of Palestinians killed by Israeli Forces on 26 September 1996, as well as any additional information available regarding residency, age, and the nature of injury:

    1. Nura Musa Faris Abu Sa’ad. From Deir Al-Balah, secondary school student, 17 years old, shot in neck.

    2. Qasim Suleiman Mohammed Al-Njaili. From Deir Al-Balah, 15 years old, shot in chest.

    3. Mohammed Hassan Al-Bayumi. From Rafah, secondary school student, 17 years old, shot in head, chest, and legs.

    4. Hani Jalal Mohammed Musa. From Deir Al-Balah, secondary school student, 17 years old, shot in abdomen.

    5. Rizq Zidan Suleiman Al-Hawajri. From Deir Al-Balah, 30 years old, shot in chest.

    6. Ahmad Salim Hussein Al-Najar. From Khuza’a, 25 years old, married and father of two children, shot in the head (by fire from a helicopter).

    7. Mohammed ‘Abdul Karim Al-Astal. From Khan Younis, 14 years old, shot in head, chest, and arms.

    8. ‘Abdul Majid Saleh Mohammed Hamad. From Khan Younis, 33 years old, married and father of four children, shot in chest while aiding one of the wounded.

    9. Mohammed Fathi Rizq Hasballah. From Gaza, 22 years old, shot in chest.

    10. Hazim Fawzi Rushdi Saqer. From Gaza, 22 years old, shot in head and back.

    11. Rashad Khader Mohammed Abu Tuha. From Gaza, 18 years old, shot in head.

    12. Hassan Mohammed Hassan al-Yazji. From Beit Hanoun, 40 years old, shot in head.

    13. ‘Ala Usama Shurab. From Gaza, 23 years old, shot in chest.

    14. Sami Abed ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Tafish. From Gaza, 22 years old, shot in chest.

    15. Ashraf Mohammed Ahmed Mahdi. From Beit Lahiya, secondary school student, 18 years old, shot in head.

    16. Basil Ibrahim Na’im. From Beit Hanoun, 25 years old, nurse in Shifa’ hospital, shot in chest while aiding the wounded (in the same incident, another nurse, Mohammed ‘Odeh was wounded, and an ambulance driver, MNimnim, was wounded).

    17. Amin Mohammed Jaber Barbakh. From Khan Younis, 17 years old. (Died on September 27 from wounds sustained yesterday).

Following is a list of the names of Palestinian policemen killed on September 26, as well as any additional information available:

    1. Khalil Ahmed Khalil Nusair. From Beit Hanoun, Lieutenant, Naval Police, 27 years old, shot in chest.

    2. Farid Adib Al-Da’aliz. From Nuseirat, 26 years old, married and the father of a 15-day-old baby, shot in head and arm.

    3. Rajih Yusef Mohammed Barud. From Rafah, Lieutenant, General Intelligence, 42 years old, married and the father of many children, shot in head and arms.

    4. Yusef Mahmoud Salih Al-Bashiti. From Al-Maghazi, National Security, 22 years old, shot in head and chest.

    5. Qusai Mohammed ‘Akasha. From Jabaliya, 20 years old, shot in chest.

    6. Musa Nasser Musa Abu Nusair. From Deir Al-Balah, 28 years old, shot in chest.

    7. Shihda Mohammed Wahdan. From Gaza, 25 years old, shot in chest and abdomen.

    8. ‘Issam Mohammed Isma’il ‘Ulwan. From Gaza, 22 years old.

    9. Ihab Yusef Mohammed ‘Abdul Wahad. From Gaza, Lieutenant, Police, 23 years old, shot in back.

    10. Ashraf al-Ashram. From Gaza, 22 years old, killed in Bethlehem, Wednesday, September 25. His body has been returned to Gaza.

Following is a list of people still in hospital following yesterday’s violence. The Gaza Strip’s three main hospitals received 409 and the rest were treated in local clinics.

Hospital

Total Number of Injured

Seriously Injured

Less Seriously Injured

Comments

Shifa’ Hospital

192

10

56

The rest light injuries

Al-Ahli Arab Hospital

29

2

9

The rest light injuries

Nasser Hospital

149

3

25

The rest light

injuries

Rafah Clinics

39

2

0

 

TOTAL

409

17

90

 

The following has been determined based on information gathered by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights:

  •  

      1) The injuries of Palestinians killed and wounded have been sustained in the head, neck, chest, and abdominal areas, clearly demonstrating that Israeli forces are directing their fire with the intention to kill or commit severe injury.

      2) The large number of casualties among unarmed civilians, among them children and the elderly, demonstrates that Israeli forces fired without discrimination against civilian demonstrators.

      3) The involvement of Israeli helicopters in shooting in residential areas, resulting in the wounding of many Palestinian civilians inside their homes, is a dangerous and extremely significant development, reflecting Israeli state terror against the Palestinian people.

      4) Israeli forces have killed and wounded members of medical teams while they were providing aid to the injured. In one incident, one nurse was killed, and another nurse and an ambulance driver were injured, confirming that the shooting was totally indiscriminate. Medical personnel were wearing special distinguishing uniforms and were clearly identifiable. Opening fire on medical personnel is a serious breach of international law.

In light of this, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights appeals to the international community for immediate intervention to protect the Palestinian people and to put an end to the provocative policies of the Israeli Government, and to force Israel to address the underlying causes of the current situation. Israel must:

  •  

      1) Cease all building in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and work towards their evacuation.

      2) Stop its collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and in particular its policy of closure.

      3) Put an end to house demolitions and land confiscation in Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

      4) Put an end to its actions affecting holy sites and policies which deprive Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories from reaching them.

      5) Close the tunnel near Al-Aqsa Mosque immediately.

      6) Cease all measures which alter the status quo in Jerusalem, and which prejudice final status negotiations.

      7) Release all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons and detention centers inside Israel.

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