Date: October 13, 2003
Al Mezan Center For Human Rights
On Monday 12 October 2003 Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) redeployed their forces around the town and refugee camp of Rafah. Mezan’s fieldworkers visited the area, under direct occupation since Friday 10 October, to collect information and meet with victims and their families.
According to the field investigations the Israeli military committed war crimes in the town, as defined by international humanitarian law. Soldiers destroyed 192 houses, homes to 1,952 people. Ninety-three of these homes were completely demolished and 99 others partially destroyed. Tens of other homes were damaged by the IOF as well. This raises the total number of destroyed homes in Rafah since the beginning of the Intifada to 1,631 and of displaced persons to 12,430.
Eight Palestinians were killed by the IOF and 81 were wounded during this incursion. Since the beginning of the current Intifada, Occupation Forces have killed 238 people in Rafah, two of them international citizens. Soldiers also restricted movement in the area, including by ambulances and relief staff, and caused a serious shortage of food and medical supplies.
According to Articles 146 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (12 August 1949) such practices are defined as “grave breaches”, and necessitate the pursuit and trial of the perpetrators, and of those who ordered them to be committed.
The Mezan Center for Human Rights emphasizes the urgent need for effective international intervention at this time. The international community is called upon to carry out its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention by putting an end to Israel’s breaches. Silence only encourages Israel to continue committing such crimes. The Center also appeals for international relief agencies to provide urgent aid to the Palestinian civilians under occupation.