Sunday, December 28, 2008

Talk, inform, discuss, point out

I was worried about that web pal of mine, who lives in Gaza and always dreams of visiting Amman, and always postpones the journey for a more fortuitous occasion. The proof of survival came through the e-mail, with the link to the organization in which he participates: The text is written during the first hours of confusion; the hours that followed just made the whole picture more dramatic.

Ref: 116/2008

Date: 27 December 2008

Time: 16:00 GMT

On the Bloodiest Day in the History of Occupation, Hundreds of Palestinian Civilian Deaths and Casualties in an Israeli Aerial Offensive against the Gaza Strip

PCHR condemns in the strongest terms the war waged by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against the Gaza Strip through a wide scale aerial offensive, which has so far targeted dozens of police headquarters and stations, public and governmental buildings and security sites throughout the Gaza Strip. PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and international organizations to immediately intervene to stop the killings being committed by IOF in the Gaza Strip, and to put an end to the current unprecedented deterioration in the human rights situation and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.

According to initial information available to PCHR, at least 190 Palestinians, many of whom are policemen including Major General Tawfiq Jaber, chief of the Palestinian police in the Gaza Strip, have been killed while they were inside and in the vicinity of police stations. Hundreds of others have been also wounded. Many of the wounded are in critical conditions receiving medical treatment at hospitals in the Gaza Strip, which cannot absorb large numbers of the wounded due to the chronic siege imposed by IOF on the Gaza Strip, which has negatively impacted health conditions and limited the capabilities of hospitals to provide minimum services to the Palestinian civilian population.

The air strikes started at 11:25 local time, almost at the same time throughout the Gaza Strip. This timing indicates that an Israeli decision was taken to cause maximum casualties in the climax of daily activities. It also explains the high number of victims killed or wounded in a few minutes on the bloodiest day during the 41 years of Israeli occupation. The timing of air strikes coincided with the end of the morning period and the beginning of the afternoon period at schools, many of which are located near police stations that were attacked. PCHR learnt that a number of children were killed or wounded while on their way to or back from schools, and hundreds of school children and civilians were treated from shocks. PCHR learnt also that dozens of the victims are unarmed civilians who were near the places that were attacked, the majority of which are located in civilian-populated areas.

At the time of writing this press release, the civil defense and medical crews are still working on extracting bodies of the victims from the debris of buildings that were attacked. It is worth noting that a number of civil defense sites were even attacked.

PCHR strongly condemns such series of war crimes being committed by IOF in the Gaza Strip, and:

1) Reiterates its call for the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and international organizations to immediately intervene to stop such unprecedented deterioration in the human rights situation and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.

2) Reminds that police stations, police officers and law enforcement officials are classified under the international law as civilians, and targeting them as such while they were not engaged in military action constitutes a violation of the international law.

3) Points out that the majority of the buildings and sites that were attacked are located in civilian-populated areas, so scores of houses were heavily damaged. Such attacks are an indication of Israeli disregard for the lives and safety of Palestinian civilians, which can be seen in the high number of civilian victims.

4) Calls upon States and international organizations to provide urgent humanitarian and medical assistance to the Gaza Strip, which has been under a tightened siege impacting all aspects of lives, especially health conditions, as hospitals in the Gaza Strip are unable to treat such high number of casualties.

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