THE “RAINBOW” OVER RAFAH
Thousand Palestinian hopes under the rubble
Palestinian boy cries due to the umpteenth Israeli incursion in Rafah Refugee Camp. 20.05.2004. (Reuters).
Researched and compiled by
The “Rainbow” over Rafah
Thousand Palestinian hopes under the rubble
Rafah Refugee Camp is the largest
of several camps near city of
It has been established in 1949
to house 41,000 refugees from newly – founded state of
Since the beginning of the
current Al –Aqsa Intifada, arisen in
According to the PHRMG statistics, at least 277 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli army incursions and about 1,800 buildings have been reportedly demolished, leaving nearly 15,000 people homeless in Rafah since the present Intifada has broken out.
Moreover, just the recent Israeli military operation in Rafah, occurred mainly between the 13th of May and the 26th of May, has been registering the following outcome:
- 62 Palestinians have been killed, among them at least 14 children under the age 18.
- At least 200 Palestinians have been wounded.
220 houses have been destroyed
or rendered uninhabitable in the Sultan,
- At least 641 families or 4,000 individuals have been left homeless.
- At least 700 donums of agricultural land have been razed; 48 shops, 56 civilian structures, including a mosque and cemeteries, have been destroyed.
1) The PHRMG is extremely concerned of the escalating violence perpetrated by Israeli
army against Palestinian people in Rafah during the so-called “Operation Rainbow”.
2) Furthermore the PHRMG accuses
Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva
Convention to intervene ensuring
respect of the
Convention’s rules on
Fourth Geneva Convention states categorically: “…The Occupying Power shall not
deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population in the territory it occupies”
3) Finally the PHRMG calls on
demolition of houses against the international law and urges the international
community, human rights organizations, solidarity movements to continue in making
1) Killings of civilians:
According to the statistics,
the Israeli so called “Rainbow Operation” occurred in Rafah refugee camp in the
last weeks has determined the highest number of fatalities since the Al – Aqsa
Intifada has broken out in
It clearly demonstrates a total lack of cure of Israeli military troops for the lives of Palestinian civilians. Israeli military attacks towards Palestinian people are to be considered disproportionate and unjustifiable related to the Israeli goals to fight terrorism and to destroy arm-smuggling tunnels.
Any form of violence against peaceful people can not be tolerated from both parts.
Assassinations attacks in large scale, especially civilians, do not represent the right way to approach and improve the peace process. Violence begets violence.
A summary of Palestinian casualties during the Israeli incursions in Rafah is provided below:
Twenty Palestinians had reportedly been killed on Tuesday, 18 May, among the highest-one-day death tolls in three years of violence.
Twelve Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire - ten in two separate missile strikes, and two by machine gun fire. A 13th man was killed while handing explosives.
At the beginning of the raid, a missile fired from a helicopter hit a group of gunmen outside a mosque in Tel Sultan, killing three. Two more missiles were fired, killing three
more people who rushed to help.
In another air strike, four Palestinians were killed, all civilians, according to hospital officials.
On Wednesday, 19 May, Israeli forces fired tank shells and missiles from helicopters at a crowd of several thousands Palestinian demonstrators, killing at least ten people. Medical sources said at least 30 others were injured. Numerous reports pointed out that the crowd comprised civilians. Demonstrators had marched from Rafah toward the Tel Sultan neighborhood of an adjacent refugee camp.
Palestinian prays next to 14 dead bodies after they were killed during the Israeli
On May 20, the third consecutive day of Israeli incursions into Rafah town and its refugee camp has raised to 43 the number of Palestinians killed in the fighting so far. Seven Palestinian were reportedly killed; five by helicopters air strikes in the two neighborhoods of al-Barazil and Al-Sallam. Two others were shot dead by snipers in the western neighborhood of Tai al-Sultan as they were looking for water because their water pipes had been destroyed
On Wednesday, 26 May, a man has
been reported to be killed by Israeli fire in Rafah, and the body of a second
man killed at the Sufa checkpoint between
2) Killings of children:
The assassinations of young
and innocent lives represent the most absurd and unjustifiable crime. It is
completely inexcusable to shoot at children, and it must be brought to the
forefront of the world’s attention. Shooting at children is contrary to any
form of democracy. This kind of behavior can not be accepted on any level and
The summary of children assassinations occurred since the beginning of Israeli operations in Rafah has been reported below:
On Tuesday morning, 18 May, Asma al- Mughair, 16-year-old, and her brother Ahmed, 13-year-old, have been shot died while staying on the roof of their home in Tel as Sultan district of Rafah. They where killed by two Israeli snipers. At Rafah’s hospital, where both children were brought to, Doctor Ahmad Abu Nakaria explained that they had been killed by single shot wounds to the head.
On Wednesday, 19 May, Israeli security forces have killed eight children, while attending a peaceful demonstration.
Always on Wednesday 19, Saber Abu Libdeh, 13-year-old, was hit though his heart by a bullet. He was previously targeted with his two brothers by Israeli snipers while attempting to fetch drinking water for his family. He fell into his mother’s arms, bleeding from his nose and mouth. His two brothers were brought to the hospital after being shooting by the sniper.
A Palestinian carries a dead boy after an Israeli attach
on a crowded and peaceful demonstration in Rafah on
19 May, .2004. (Reuters).
On Saturday, 23 May, Palestinian
officials said a 3-year-old, Rawan Abu Zeid, was shot dead in the Rafah refugee camp. She was
killed when she was hit in the head and neck by two bullets when she left her
home in the
Early on Tuesday, the 1st of June, according to Palestinian sources and the UN agency for Palestinian refugee, 10-year-old boys, Mohammed Hammad and Hisham al Habil have been seriously injured by Israeli gunfire while studying at a UN school in the Rafah camp. The children have been hit with a bullet during an Arabic language class at Al – Ummeria elementary school. The Israeli bullets passed through the classroom window hitting Mohammed to the neck and Hisham to the head.
It was not an isolated episode, as the school has been targeted by Israeli forces many times in the recent past, strongly jeopardizing students’ lives.
Following the firing, the entire school personnel, backed by students’ families, turned out in the street demonstrating against Israeli attacks.
3) Home demolitions and homeless people:
The Israeli army’s practice to demolish and destroy civilian houses, leaving thousands of homeless, is an unjustifiable collective punishments perpetrated against Palestinian people.
The Israeli demolitions represent grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and, as stated by Amnesty International and other international human rights movements, war crimes.
Israel has not showed any respect regarding its obligations under international and humanitarian law, keeping undertaking house demolitions absolutely contrary to the law.
Demolitions perpetrated in Rafah:
Since the first incursion into
Rafah refugee camp occurred on the 13th of May,
The most impressive house demolition took places among Thursday, 13, and Saturday, 15, destroying about 80 homes and a number of civilian infrastructures. As a result more than 900 people became homeless, joining the hundreds of other families whose the houses have already been demolished in the previous days.
Israeli tanks demolishing Rafah refugee camp during an ongoing military operation.
On Friday, 21 May, Israeli bulldozers have been reportedly continued to demolish Palestinian residences in Rafah.
The house of the ‘Azzam family in the
On Wednesday 26, Israeli tanks
and a bulldozer destroyed three more houses in Palestinian territory outside
the town of
Israeli army continued their planned home destructions also on Saturday, the 29th of May.
Several military vehicles, reinforces and baked by helicopters, began to demolish a number of Palestinian residences without allowing inhabitants to collect their belongings. The operation ended Sunday, 30 May, at .
Israeli Security Force has been reportedly demolishing 25 houses, 23 completely destroyed and 2 partially damaged, inside Rafah refugee camp. More than 350 people, nearly 60 families, have been rendered homeless after the military operation ended.
Due to the desperate situation in Rafah because of destruction perpetrated by Israeli army, on Monday, 31 May, UN agency for Palestinian refugees has launched a multi-million dollar appeal for the people of Rafah too facilitate the process of reconstruction. UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees’ chief, Peter Hansen, said nearly 16 US million dollars are need to repair the damage. He declared “Rafah was always a poor place; it is now a devastated place. The situation is untenable”.
Part of the funds will also utilize to repair Rafah’s infrastructure, destroyed or seriously damaged by Israeli attacks during the last weeks.
Even though the proclaimed withdrawal, Israel Defense Security Force has kept up demolishing buildings also on Wednesday, 2 June, in Rafah. According to Palestinian officials at least other 18 houses have been destroyed by Israeli bulldozers. Buildings’ residents were obligated by Israeli army to evacuate their houses without any opportunity to pick up their belongings. Afterwards the buildings were completely razed to the ground.
Following the umpteenth house demolition, the Special Rapporteurs of the Commission of Human Rights, Miloon Kothary, expressed his gravest and deepest condemnation of Israeli military operations in Rafah, calling for the establishment of an international force ensuring that no further demolitions take place in Rafah.
Once again the PHRMG wants to
affirm its strongest and deepest condemnation for the unjustifiable military
campaign led by
Action such as assassination, in
addition to home demolitions, unbelievably repressive curfews, and the whole
list of collective punishment committed by
The PHRMG also reiterates for the international community and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to intervene preventing any violation of human rights against the Palestinian civilians perpetrated by Israeli forces. In this respect, it is significant that the Israeli authorities, even though repeated and ongoing calls by the international community and international human rights organizations continue to oppose the presence of international human rights monitors vigorously.
PHRMG. Statistics resources. www.phrmg.org.
PHRMG. The Palestinian Human Rights Monitor. One year al – Aqsa Intifada. www.phrmg.org.
Human Right Watch Report. End unlawful use of force against civilian in
Amnesty International Report.
Amnesty International Report.
BBC NEWS Reports. http://news.bbc.co.uk/.
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the
The Guardian. Palestinian doctors despair at rising tool of children shot died by army snipers. 20.05.2004. www.guardian.com.uk.
The New York Times. In 5th days of Gaza Raid, A girl, 3, is shot died. 23.05.2004.
The New York Times. In
The New York Times. Israeli Army Ends Weeklong Attack in
Haaretz. High Court allows
Haaretz. Infantry risked being cut off in
Haaretz. IDF kills 8 Palestinians at Rafah rally. 20.05.2004. www.haaretzdaily.com.
CNN News. Report. U.N. official: Rafah residents ‘living in hell’. 18.05.2004. www.cnn.com.
www.palestinedaily.com. UN appeal for homeless Gaza Palestinians launched.
International Herald Tribune. Child killed in Rafah as incursion rages U.N. says destruction of Palestinian home is unacceptable. 23.05.2004.
Le Monde International. Rafah reste sous la pression des chars israeliens. 22.05.2004. www.lemonde.fr.
Sydney Morning Herald. Israeli bulldozers keep up demolition in Rafah. 22.05.2004. www.smh.com.au.