Friday, August 06, 2004

Palestine Red Crescent Report

Palestine Red Crescent Report
July 31 - August 6th
During this reporting period, the Israeli Army has continued to violate International Humanitarian Law and Fundamental Human Rights, by restricting freedom of movement to Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulances and its medical teams. Delays, denial of access and arbitrary searches had a negative impact on the sick and wounded in Ramallah, Nablus , Tubas and Gaza .
Ramallah, 5 August 2004 ( 18:05 ): Israeli soldiers at the Beit El checkpoint stopped a PRCS ambulance on route to transport patients from Ramallah Hospital to Jericho . The soldiers denied the ambulance access claiming the patients didn't need an ambulance to transport them. The medics explained to the soldiers the health condition of the patients and showed them the relevant medical reports. All of a sudden and without provocation, a soldier got out from a military jeep and started shouting verbal insults at the medics. PRCS requested coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and finally the patients were transferred to a second ambulance at the other side of the checkpoint. The first ambulance was detained for more than thirty minutes before the back to back transfer took place.
In addition to the above, the following table lists incidents of denial and delay of access during this reporting period.   PRCS Branch Date Checkpoint Delay of access (unless indicated 'denied access') Tubas 3/8/2004 Beit Eba 75 minutes Nablus 6/8/2004 Beit Eba 40 minutes Gaza\Al Mawasi 2/8/2004 Al Tufah 55 minutes   These practices constitute a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the First Additional Protocol of the Geneva conventions, which are legally applied to the occupied Palestinian territories. In particular, they violate articles 20 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which guarantees the protection and respect of persons who engage in the search for, removal and transport of and caring for wounded and sick civilians, and article 63 which stresses that " Subject to temporary and exceptional measures imposed for urgent reasons of security by the Occupied Power, recognized National red cross and red crescent societies shall be able to pursue their activities in accordance with Red Cross principles, as defined by the international Red Cross Conferences=8A". In addition to articles 12 and 15 of the First Additional Protocol of the Geneva conventions which guarantees that " Medical units shall be respected and protected at all times and shall not be the object of attack and shall have access to any place where their services are essential" and article 16 which stresses that, "Under no circumstances shall any person be punished for carrying out medical activities compatible with medical ethics, regardless of the person benefiting there from.", in addition to article 21, which stresses that," Medical vehicles shall be respected and protected in the same way as mobile medical units under the Conventions and this Protocol." <

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Responding to continued insecurity, UN agency

Responding to continued insecurity, UN agency relocates more staff out of Gaza
Susan Brannon
4 August 2004 - For the second time in two weeks, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has decided to relocate international staff out of the strife-torn Gaza Strip because of Israeli incursions and general instability.

"I have been closely monitoring the evolution of the security situation in the Gaza Strip which forced me on 21 July to relocate part of my Headquarters staff to Jerusalem ," Agency Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said in a statement. "Since then, Israeli military operations in Beit Hanoun have continued and been expanded and there have been announcements regarding the potential extension of Israeli military incursions into other parts of the Northern Gaza Strip."
He also cited the risk posed by increasing clashes among Palestinian factions in the area.   All remaining staff of UNRWA's headquarters office in Gaza will move to Amman , Jordan , except for the seven-member team that includes Mr. Hansen, his deputy and their immediate aides. Nineteen international staff will go to Amman , bringing to some 40 the total from the two announced relocations.   UNRWA's Gaza Field Office will continue to be fully staffed and will maintain all regular and emergency services provided to Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip.   "For the beneficiaries, for the refugees both as regards our normal programme of activities and as regards our emergency operations, it should not have any effect," UNRWA's Rene Aquarone told the UN News Service. He pointed out that 8,000 local staff will remain to "work as effectively as always."   Israeli military operations in Beit Hanoun are "putting our staff at unnecessary risk of being caught in the crossfire or being stuck in Gaza " in the event that roads become blocked, he explained.   "What is required as far as we're concerned is an end to these military operations and we are of course talking to the Israeli Government and the Israeli military, explaining what has led us to relocate our international staff, and voicing hope for a situation that will enable us to bring them back," he said.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Eyewitness Account

For Immediate Release: Eyewitness Account
On 6 July 2004 Professor Khaled Salah of An-Najah National University , along with son Muhammad, were killed by an Israeli attack unit. The Salah home was later demolished by six helicopter rockets.

A press conference by the wife and daughter of Prof.Khaled Salah,"If I am Palestinian they will kill me...If I am American they will kill me… should I be Jewish to be safe?"
"My name is Diana Khaled Salah, I am 23 years, the only daughter of Khaled Salah. He was more like a friend than a father. Last night, about one o' clock I heard a bomb explosion. I saw Israeli soldiers come into the house. My father rushed into my room. I told him, Dad, it is full of soldiers downstairs."
"Are you kidding?" he said. "No," I answered. 'He went to look in the kitchen. He rushed back and took me from my bedroom into another room.
"Our house is open, all rooms have windows and the windows were all open. The only room with three walls is the reception room (the living room). We all huddled there, Dad, Mum, Muhammad, Ali and I. We were all in one corner of the room for three hours. Three long hours. We could hear the shooting and bombing, they were using all kinds of weapons: tanks, rockets, helicopters and M-16s. Fire was crossing our house.
"We were so afraid but Dad said an Arabic _expression: Let it be the money and not children. It means better to loose money better than souls. I was crying but he tried to cheer me up saying: I didn't know that you are such a coward. Up until that moment we were all OK."
(At this point Mrs. Salah interrupts saying, He knew no fear. He was a believer man. My husband used to read holy Quran and praying. Her voice is more composed than her daughter's.)
Diana continues…
"Minutes later, shooting stopped. It was so quiet. It is over! We thought. But then the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) started shouting over loudspeakers: Open the doors! All people out of the building! Dad went to open the door but he couldn't move it. The lock of the door was damaged from the bombing so the door could not be moved. He went to his bedroom window, held his hands and called in English to the soldiers: We can't open the door. The door is damaged. I am a peaceful man. We all are peaceful people. I have children. My daughter has an American citizenship. I have an American green card, I have no weapons. Only my children are here. Come and open the door. I can't open it. Then in Arabic he shouted: Help... help… somebody come and open the door.
"Suddenly we heard shooting and my Dad's voice stopped. Mum ran in to find my Dad lying on the floor. She called to him, Khaled.. Khaled…what happened? She came back crying and told us, they killed your dad.
"At that same moment my little brother Ali and I were still in that corner. But my other brother, Muhammad, was on the floor. My Mum asked me, what's wrong with Muhammad?
"I said I don't know. I can see him there…I thought maybe he was kidding. We called to him. He didn't answer. Then we saw blood coming out of his mouth. But we could feel him breathing. Mum cried for help and tried to open the door but they started to shoot.
"I shouted, Mum don't open! Please... Please … I have no dad now… I don't want to lose you too. I don't want to be alone.
"When mum called to the soldiers for help they mocked and told her to shut up. We then called the neighbors. We thought maybe someone can open the door. One of our neighbors, a 17 year old boy, came and tried to open the door. The soldiers threatened him but he continued pull at the door. Mum was pushing from inside and the boy was pulling from the outside. Finally the door opened. We begged the Israeli soldiers to let us pull out my dad and brother's bodies, but they refused and threatened to kill us too.
At this point the mother adds: "We were shocked when we came out of the flat and saw the huge number of soldiers. Almost every two meters there was a sniper. We are not in a war."
Finally Diana ends her testimony saying: "If I am Palestinian they will kill me...If I am an American they will kill me… should I be Jewish to be safe?"

WFP extends emergency operations

WFP extends emergency operations
3 August 2004 - With continuing violence and conflict in the Palestinian territories further undermining the lives and livelihoods of the population, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that it will extend its emergency operations there for a further 12 months, increasing its aid by more than a third.  
"What is left today is not a viable economy. These are people who are struggling to survive," WFP country director Jean-Luc Siblot said, noting that for the past four years Palestinians had been affected by continuing political instability, Israeli military incursions, curfews, house demolitions, and a "closure policy" with over 600 checkpoints preventing many from reaching their work or schools.
The rapidly deteriorating economic situation has been further complicated by the construction of a 185-kilometre separation barrier which Israel says it needs to keep out suicide bombers but which the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled illegal.   Under the new operation WFP will provide $41 million worth of relief food - up from $29 million - to nearly half a million people facing severe hardship.   According to a vulnerability assessment in April, an estimated 38 per cent of the population lacks sufficient food while a further 26 per cent is at risk. Within the Gaza Strip alone, food insecurity rates reached as high as 66 per cent in Rafah, 56 per cent in Jabalia and 40 per cent in Khan Younis.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

This To I will Remember

This To I will Remember
This too, I will remember
By Mike Odetalla

This too, I will remember...

My people huddled in darkness
Frightened, hungry, and thirsty
Caged like animals...

This too, I will remember...

The humiliation and sadness
Cries of the children in the air
The death hopelessness and despair

This too, I will remember...

Those that closed their eyes
Covered their ears
And silenced their voices
Oblivious of our suffering and tears

This too, I will remember...

The ones that cared
Spoke out and shared
In our suffering with others
We will remember them as our brothers...

All of this I will remember...

Be it kindness
I will not forget

Kindness in return you will get...

For those that heaped on us suffering and death
We will remember this until our last dying breath...

All of this we will always remember...

Mike Odetalla 4-2002