Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rights groups investigate Israeli fire death

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Investigations by two rights groups in Gaza found the death of a woman on Tuesday was caused by Israeli fire, in an incident that the Israeli military has yet to comment on.

A document with sworn affidavits and a second report based on an independent investigation were released by two Gaza rights organizations on Wednesday, and both said the death 32-year-old Ni'meh Yousif Abu Sa'eed An-Nabaheen was caused by fire from soldiers manning the unilaterally-declared buffer zone on the Gaza border.

At the time, an Israeli military spokesman said he was unfamiliar with the report of the deaths, said he would look into the report but did not respond further.

In its initial report, Ma'an quoted medics saying that one woman was killed and five others injured, while the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights as well as the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said three others were injured.

The Al-Mezan report said the home targeted by Israeli fire belonged to Jabir Ismail, who told rights workers that he was sitting outside his house when he heard an explosion nearby. He said he got up and heard an additional two blasts.

According to PCHR Israeli troops positioned at the border fired two artillery shells at the house, then later fired a third round. The report said "the troops were unprovoked and the witnesses could not suggest any reason for the attack."

An-Nabaheen was said to have been killed after she sustained head wounds as well as injuries to the abdomen. The Al-Mezan report said she was outside the home looking for her five children.

In its report, PCHR said the incident "constitute[s] the highest degree of disregard for Palestinian civilians' lives [and]... stresses that failure to open investigations into the actions of suspected Israeli soldiers officially encourages them to commit further crimes."

The rights groups identified the others injured in the incident as:
Sanaa’ Ahmed Abu Sa'eed (Abu Maraheel), 25
Amira Jabir Abu Sa'eed, 30
Jaber Abu Sa'eed, 65

The reports said that the home, 400 meters away from the no-go-zone, was physically damaged in the incident, and said that continued Israeli fire prevented a Red Crescent ambulance from accessing the scene.

The first ambulance could not access the home, and turned back to Gaza City, the PCHR report said, noting a second ambulance arrived an hour and a half after the first, and was permitted to pass due to "coordination with the Israeli authorities through the Palestinian Liaison Office."