Sunday, November 15, 2009

IOF Kill Child; Arrest Four by Gaza Border. Al Mezan Condemns IOF Violations; Call for International Protection of Civilians


Al Mezan  88/2009

Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights condemns the murder by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) of a child and arrest of four civilians; all of whom are 17 and 18-year-olds near the Gaza border with Israel. IOF opened fire at seven children and youths as they were new the border in the Wadi Gaza village, south to Gaza City. The children were unarmed and did not pose any danger on IOF.

According to information collected by Al Mezan Centre, at approximately 9.30am on Friday 13 November 2009, IOF opened machinegun and artillery fire towards a group of seven children and youths who were near the solid waste dump, which is located northeast of Wadi Gaza village. One child, 16-yearold Mustafa Mohammed Wadi, was killed from IOF fire. Another child, 17-year-old Ahmed Sa'doun, was injured. A force of IOF ground troops entered the area and chased them and arrested four of them.

According to an affidavit given to Al Mezan Centre by 18-year-old Ahmad Salman Al-Makadma, 18, who was among the group, the seven children and youths left their neighborhood in Block 9 in the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the early morning hours on a horse-laden cart and headed to the Friday Market in Gaza City. On their way back, they passed by the solid-waste dumb in Wadi Gaza village. Five of them saw stray dogs and chased them near the border. Israeli forces saw them and opened fire at them, killing one and injuring another. Ground troops then entered the area and arrested four. Another two; managed to escape; Ahmed and his brother Saif Al-Makadma, 7.

Al Mezan knew that those who were arrested were:
-          Mohammed Khader Sa'doun, 18;
-          Ahmed Khader Sa'doun, 17; (who was also injured)
-          Nidal Rajab Abu Hajar, 18; and
-          Bakir Sa'eed Al-Makadma, 18.

Ahmed Al-Makadma informed Al Mezan that he called the emergency services when he escaped from the area. Sources in the Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported that two of the Society's ambulances reached the area after ICRC coordinated for them with the IOF. The ambulances team found the body of the murdered child laid on the ground approximately one kilometer from the border fence.

Al Mezan Centre strongly condemns the continued acts of killing by the IOF in the Gaza Strip, which more than often target children. These acts reflect that IOF continue to act without regard to the rules of international law, which prohibit any attacks against civilians but also taking measures to ensure their safety and well-being.

Al Mezan also notes that most of these acts occur near the border fence in the north and east of the Gaza Strip; an area that is declared as a 'buffer zone' by IOF. However, this entire area is located inside the Gaza Strip and it is not precisely defined. IOF informed farmers and residents in certain areas as close to the border as 300 meters that that area was part of the 'buffer zone'. Nevertheless, many attacks on farmers and children occurred in areas over a kilometer from the border fence, and in times when there were no disturbances in these areas.

Al Mezan Centre calls on the international community to take prompt actions to ensure due protection of Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt); particularly children who continue to take the brunt of IOF's attacks and the collective punishment measures. Al Mezan asserts that these continued acts by IOF require urgent actions by international community to enforce the mechanisms of accountability against those who violate international law in oPt. The prevailing culture of impunity has only served to encourage violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and must be challenged and stopped without delay.