Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations demand that Israel cease bombing of Gaza Strip

Five Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations demanded Wednesday that the Israeli Airforce and Army cease the ongoing assault on the Palestinian Gaza Strip, the most crowded place on earth and home to 1.2 million Palestinians (most of them refugees from what is now Israel).

Israeli forces reoccupied the northern Gaza Strip last week, claiming th occupation and incursions were for “security reasons”.  Some members of the armed Palestinian resistance had been exercising their right under international law to resist the occupation by launching homemade projectiles from this area. For this reason, Israeli forces they launched a major offensive against the entire Palestinian population of Gaza.

Included in the organizations demanding a cease in the Israeli attacks are Doctors without Borders, the Israeli Association of Human Rights (Betselem, the Organization for the Rights of Israeli Citizens, the Gaza-based Center for Palestinian Human Rights (PCHR), the Gaza-based Center for for Palestinian Human Rights (Al Mezan), and the Gaza Center for Psychological Health.

In a letter signed by the aforementioned organizations to those responsible in the Israeli government, the demand was made for the Israeli forces to cease the bombardment and attacks against Palestinian citizens. In just three days Israeli forces killed 16 Palestinians in such attacks.

The organizations assert that the Israeli attacks disregard the “rules of war.” The appeal demanded that Israel honor international law and to keep their actions “proportional” to the ends, with at least some regard for the Palestinian civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

After major reports in the media, Israeli forces reduced the size of the occupied “isolation zone” from 300 to 100 meters  — apparently in order to reduce the risk of harming civilians.  But the imprecise hitting of missiles and the reduction in the “zone” actually represent a daily danger to the Palestinian citizens.

The General Officer in the Israeli military informed the Israeli daily newspaper, Ha’aretz, “We are not trying to disturb the inhabitants with our bombardments.” The Israeli military held a recent and lengthy campaign of air strikes, intended to frighten the population, resulting in fear, sleeplessness, and bedwetting amongst children, according to Gazan psychologists.

The human rights organizations affirm that international law prohibits such rocket attacks against residential neighborhoods and in such close contact with the citizenry.  At the same time, the Palestinian Authority is being held responsible for not putting an end to the armed resistance activities.  Resistance activities in this period have consisted of the launching of several dozen homemade projectiles from Gaza into Israeli areas — no deaths have resulted from the projectile launches, and the only injuries have been "from shock".

But the Israeli attacks, human rights groups report, have resulted in 19 dead, 95 injured, many of them seriously, and an entire population of 1.2 million Palestinians suffering from the shock of an unceasing bombardment of 300 artillery rounds and air strikes a day.

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