End unlawful attacks and meet Gaza's emergency needs
29 December 2008
Palestinian civilians remain at risk of being killed or injured in the
Israeli air strikes and are increasingly lacking adequate medical care,
food, medicines, electricity, water and other necessities, Amnesty
International said on Monday after three days of the Israeli military
offensive in the Gaza Strip in which more than 300 Palestinians have
"The horrific death toll risks growing due to the unavailability of
adequate medical care for the hundreds of injured. The health sector
in Gaza lacks equipment, medicine and expertise at the best of times
and has been further depleted due to the prolonged Israeli blockade.
It is now completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with the large
number of casualties," said Amnesty International.
Israel must grant the wounded access to hospitals in Israel and to
Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.
The Egyptian authorities should also open Egyptian hospitals to those
in need of medical care which is not available in Gaza and must
ensure that its border guards do not resort to excessive use of force
against those fleeing the bombing . The Hamas de-facto administration
must also ensure that its security forces and militias do not, under
any circumstances, hinder or prevent the passage of the wounded or
others patients trying to leave Gaza.
Despite assurances from the Israeli authorities’ that humanitarian aid
is being allowed into Gaza, the reality is that the quantity of
humanitarian aid and supplies which has been allowed into Gaza in
recent months is only a fraction of what is required.
"It is utterly unacceptable for Israel to continue to purposefully
deprive 1.5 million people of food and other basic necessities. Such a
policy cannot be justified on any security or other grounds and must
end immediately," said Amnesty International. "Israel must allow
international humanitarian and human rights workers immediate and safe
access to Gaza."
Amnesty International reiterates its call for an end to reckless and
unlawful Israeli attacks against densely populated residential areas
which have killed more than 300 Palestinians since 27 December,
including scores of unarmed civilians and police personnel not taking
part in the hostilities, and injured several hundred others.
Amnesty International also calls once again on Hamas and all other
Palestinian armed groups in Gaza to stop firing indiscriminate rockets
against towns and villages in southern Israel, which have killed two
Israeli civilians and injured several others in the past three days.
Following reports that an unconfirmed number of detainees, including
political detainee members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas’ Fatah party, were killed and injured in Israeli air strikes on
security installations and detention centres, Amnesty International
calls on Israel not to target detention facilities. Hamas should also
promptly provide information about the fate of the detainees to their
families and allow families to visit them where possible.
Civilian residential homes and other buildings, including a university,
have been targeted by Israeli air strikes. Compounding the atmosphere
of fear resulting from the Israeli bombardments, Israeli forces have
been sending seemingly random telephone messages to many inhabitants of
Gaza telling them to leave their homes because of imminent air strikes
against their houses. Such messages have been received by residents of
multi-storey apartment building, causing panic not only for those who
received the calls but for all their neighbours. Such practice was
widely used by Israeli forces both in Gaza and in Lebanon in 2006, but
has not been reported since. The threatening calls seem to aim to
spread fear among the civilian population, as in most cases no air
strikes were carried out against the buildings. If this is the purpose,
rather than to give effective warning, this practice violates
international law and must end immediately.
The international community, especially the members of the Quartet (the
United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States of
America) as well as countries of the League of the Arab States, must go
beyond the rhetoric and exert concrete pressure on both parties to the
conflict to end the abuses of international law they are committing.
The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions should also
consider holding an emergency meeting to address the situation.