For Immediate Release
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Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: End Unlawful Attack and Meet Gaza's Emergency Needs
GAZA - 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 today after three days of
the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip in which more than 300
Palestinians have been killed.
"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
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