by The Palestine Monitor | The Palestine Monitor | October, 11th 2003
On Friday October 10th, the 6th consecutive day that Gaza has been held under complete closure, Israeli occupying forces invaded the refugee camps of Yibna and al Shouot south of Rafah. Seven Palestinians have been killed and more than 60 injured. During the invasion, Israeli military bulldozers continued the land-razing operation, started on Monday. Approximately 400 dunums of Palestinian agricultural land between Morag settlement and Sofa Crossing has been razed and many homes and buildings destroyed.
According to witnesses the Israeli invasion was particularly heavy – the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that at around 12 midnight, more than 80 Israeli tanks, accompanied by military bulldozers and helicopters, moved approximately 300 meters into Blocks L and J of the Rafah refugee camp randomly shelling civilian residential homes and buildings. As the Palestinians fled to the streets to avoid being crushed to death in random indiscriminate shelling attacks, Israeli forces took up positions within homes and on the roofs of tall buildings. There were also reports that Israeli forces were firing gas grenades containing a black gas believed to be adamatite – the use of which is forbidden according to international law. Medical authorities urged people to avoid the gas at all costs, as it not only causes difficulty in breathing but seriously affects the nervous system.
Seven Palestinians were reported killed during the incursion. Among them were three children, of 15, 12 and 8 years. Two of them died when Israeli missiles blew their heads from their bodies. Israeli Occupying Forces also reportedly opened fire at Palestinian medics attempting to access the wounded, including an ambulance from the Abu Yousuf Najar Hospital in Rafah. The head of the hospital said they were severely under prepared to handle the number injured. Like most medical centers in the area the hospital is severely under equipped, emergency medical supplies are lacking because of the closures. The Abu Yousef Hospital is also very small and cannot cope with the more serious casualties requiring major surgery and intensive care; these cases are usually transferred to the European hospital or Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis. Such transfers have now been made incredibly difficult due to the extensive closures. The large Israeli military presence in this area has cut off all travel between Khan Younis and Rafah, and Israeli soldiers have continued to open fire at Palestinians moving in the area. Many ambulance drivers are being forced to resort to carrying critically ill Patients over rough unpaved back roads - this under threat of Israeli army tank and machine gun fire against anyone trying to circumvent checkpoints.
The total internal and external closure of the Gaza Strip, was imposed by Israeli Occupying Forces from early morning on Sunday, 5 October. All main internal roads were closed, segregating the Gaza Strip into four isolated zones, in addition to all external access routes to Israel and Egypt. The closure and occupation is ongoing and a further four Palestinians have been injured today – one an elderly man narrowly escaped as Israeli bulldozers began demolishing his house.
According to Israeli military sources, this operation is set to continue for several days. Israel has also ordered the continuation of a wider strict lockdown preventing all Palestinians from traveling within all Palestinian territories.