George Rishmawi / IMEMC – 2004-05-18 08:44:09
RAFAH (May 18, 2004) — Palestinian Medical sources at Abu Yousif Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah reported that two 14 and 16-year-old brother and sister “Ahmed and Asma Al-Mughaeir” were killed as army opened fire at their house in Rafah this afternoon.
Ismael Balawi 45, died of his wounds sustained Tuesday morning resulted from Israeli apache missiles shelling. This raises the death toll in Rafah in the “Operation Rain Bow” Israeli army is carrying out in Rafah that started in the early hours of Tuesday morning to 17.
Eyewitnesses in Rafah reported that 14 have been killed in the “Operation Rain Bow” Israeli army is carrying out in Rafah south of Gaza strip after isolating this are form the rest of the Strip. The operation started in Abu Jazar area in Bloc “O” at around 1:00 am as the Israeli Apaches [helicopters] fired missiles at a residential area. Three were killed and 6 wounded among them a woman, two of them are in serious condition.
The three were identified as; Walid Abu Jazar 27, Mohammad Al-Jindi 20 and Mohammad Nawajheh 22.
Three hours later, another air strike killed Mohammad Abu Touk 33 and Imad Al-Maghari 24. Eyewitnesses said the Apache fired a missile at a crowed of people on their way to the mosque as they ran towards the two killed near Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque in Tel Al-Sultan. As a result 7 were killed and over 10 were injured some of them suffer serious wounds.
Dr. Ali Mousa, director of Abu Yousif Al-Najjar hospital in the city that the 7 bodies arrived to the hospital, known of them, Mohammad Qishta 17, Tarek Sheikh Al-Eid 24, Ibrahim Al-Bal’awi 21 and Mohamad Al-Sha’er 21 and Sa’ed Al-Mughaeir. The other two were hardly identified as their bodies were scattered and burned badly as a result of the missile attack. They were named; Hani Quffeh 20, Ziad Shabaneh 25.
Dr. Mousa said, Ibrahim Darweesh, 23, was killed as an explosive charge he was preparing went off by mistake around midnight.
Bulldozers Continue Home Demolitions
Israeli bulldozers continue to demolish houses as tanks and helicopters cover them. The house demolitions are part of the plan to widen the Philadelphi axis from its original 300 meters width and dig a 20-meter-wide trench and fill it with water. This trench will separate the Egyptian part of Rafah from the Palestinian Rafah.
Israeli tanks and troops moved overnight into the Tel Sultan neighborhood, located away from the border, and began digging a trench to separate the quarter from the rest of the camp, witnesses said.
Palestinian security sources said two ambulances came under fire from Israeli snipers, and one was hit by three bullets. Rescue workers said the morgue at the small Rafah hospital was full, and bodies were being moved to a shop nearby.
Israel started Monday deploying massive forces around the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Thousands of Rafah’s residents fled their homes, fearing the coming “disaster.”
Army spokesperson claimed Monday that army intends to totally separate Rafah from the rest of the Gaza Strip, arrest or kill wanted resistance operatives, and destroy tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt into Gaza. This operation comes few days after an operation carried out by the Israeli army in Al-Zaytoun neighborhood and Rafah and the surrounding in which over 25 Palestinians and 11 Israeli soldiers as the Palestinian resistance blew up their APCs while invading the area.
UN Security Council to Convene in Light of Rafah Destruction
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss the request by Arab Nations told hold an immediate meeting to consider Israel’s widespread destruction of Palestinian homes in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.
The Arab group filed the request Monday following a wide international condemnation of last week’s demolition of over 130 houses in the camp, leaving over 11,000 Palestinians in Rafah homeless since 2000.
The current council president, the Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram, received a letter from Yemen’s UN Ambassador, Abdullah Al-Saidi, the current chairman of the Arab Group calling on members to take “necessary measures” against Israel for violating international law.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged Israel on Monday to stop bulldozing homes in Rafah, saying the demolitions violate international law and hinders UN refugee workers from doing their jobs.
European Union foreign ministers on Monday also condemned the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza, demanding an immediate halt to the action, which they said in a statement was “disproportionate and in conflict with international law.” The EU sought to balance its statement by condemning calls for violence and deploring the inhuman treatment of the remains of Israeli soldiers by Palestinians in Gaza.
Amnesty International released a report Tuesday saying Israel has destroyed more than 3,000 Palestinian houses since the second Intifada and described the current house demolitions in Rafah as a “War Crime” and demanded the army stop razing civilian homes.
On the other hand Powel and Rice rejected a Palestinian Cease-fire plan suggested by the Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei as he met both separately in Amman and Germany respectively.
In a shy criticism to Israel’s mass demolition of Palestinian houses in Rafah, the US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said “It’s a subject of conversation and it’s a subject of concern.”
Speaking in Berlin after a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, Rice said the United States had told Israel “that some of their actions don’t create the best atmosphere.”