The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has continued to escalate its aggression against the Gaza Strip. Yesterday, Sunday 6 September 2009, the IOF penetrated the south of Beit Lahia town in North Gaza district and kidnapped five Palestinian children. This new escalation comes amid the tight Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip which is causing a continual deterioration in the human rights situation and humanitarian conditions.
According to investigations conducted by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Israeli troops infiltrated Beit Lahia from the northern separation fence. They passed through the vacated 'Nizanit' settlement in the northeast of Biet Lahia in North Gaza District. At approximately 6pm on the same day, the Israeli forces deployed in an uninhabited sandy area north of the Bedouin Village (Umm An-Nasser). The IOF detonated an explosive device in that area. Soldiers then stopped and kidnapped five Palestinian children who were on their way home after grazing sheep. This kidnaping took place a few minutes before Ramadan Iftar (breaking of the fast). Al Mezan has obtained the names of these children which are as follows:
- Mohammed Arafat Abu Khusa, 17;
- Ibrahim Shehda Abu Jarad, 16;
- Sameh Abdul Qader Abu Hashish, 15;
- Freeh Qasem Abu Hashish, 13; and
- 'A'ed Hazaa' Abu Hashish, 16.
At approximately 6:15pm on the same day, an Israeli helicopter provided cover for the withdrawal of the Israeli forces by opening fire at the northern and eastern borders of the Bedouin village. The IOF detained the children and took them inside the separation fence into Israel. None of them had been released by the time of issuing this press release.
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights condemns the continued Israeli aggression against Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The Centre strongly condemns that arrest of the five children while they were returning from grazing. Al Mezan also strongly condemns the continued collective punishment, represented in its cruelest form by the tight siege that has caused the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian patients, the collapse of the economy, and rocketing poverty and unemployment in the Gaza Strip. This systematic impoverishment and suffocation of Palestinians living in Gaza Strip violates international law and must be urgently halted.Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights expresses its strongest condemnation of the escalating violations of human rights committed by the IOF in Gaza. In particular Al Mezan condemns the targeting of Palestinian children and civilians near the separation fence. Al Mezan emphasizes that the silence of the international community and its failure to fulfill its obligations towards civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) have only encouraged Israel to continue its violations of international law. Al Mezan therefore reiterates its calls upon the international community to take prompt and effective action to end Israel's violations in the oPt; many of which constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law.