News and opinions on situation in the Middle East
19/11/03 Rafah update - More Deaths, Shootings and Arrests

In a message dated 11/22/03 5:13:45 PM, writes:

<< More Deaths, Shootings and Arrests >>

Thursday 19th November 2003

ISM Rafah

These days there is a heavy tension in the air. Many people feel that what the IOF did in October was only half of what they had intended, and there is more yet to come. Regardless, the level of violence seems much heavier now during Ramadan than in the past couple of months (with the exception of the massive invasion of October). More gunfire, a lot of gunfire, during the day.

We are spending much of our days visiting families who have lost children and other family members from Israeli bullets. The other day in Gaza City, halfway through Ramadan, a very poor family lost one of its sons. The 13 year old was out catching birds with other kids from the neighborhood when an Israeli military foot patrol came upon them. The autopsy report describes the child as being shot 17 times at close range and his face was injured from being stomped on by the soldiers’ boots. His arm was broken when they dragged him from the place of his murder to the border, in o! rder to claim they shot him because he got too close to the Green Line.

In Rafah, another 13 year old child was shot in the stomach on his way home from school. That day there was an unusual amount of gunfire all day long. The military was shooting into the streets from the towers making us have to jump into nearby allyways, on at least a couple of occasions, to get out of the line of fire. In Block O, one of the refugee camps along the border, this child was just getting out of class and on his way home when he was either targeted or hit with a stray bullet. He was not killed instantly, but was taken to the ICU where over the course of 3 days was given 16 liters of blood. In the end the doctors could not stop the bleeding and the child died.

Just two days later, at around 2:30 AM the military invaded Zalata Neighborhood, a predominantly Bedouin community in the countryside of Rafah. They were looking for "wanted" men, men who are brothers and fathers and sons who resist the military’s incursions in order to protect their communities! from the occupation. The military showed up unannounced at 2:30 AM and gave the family no warning before detonating their house. The man they were looking for was not there. A few houses down a 55 year old father was killed helping his son (another so called wanted man) escape. The father was shot a number of times and then run over twice by the military Humveys on his way back from helping his son escape.

His son fared only a little better. He was shot in the arm while climing a fence to escape. Despite this, he was able to maintain his stamina to finish climbing the fence, run through a number of fields of farmland, tear open a hole in an agave cactus hedge with his bare hands, run through another field of crops and then desperately pound on the door of someone he did not know to ask for help. All of this was done while he was being chased by the military jeeps and followed by the Apache helicopters.

He was caught in the house of the man who took him in. The military surrounded the house and shot up the walls. Then they blasted open the door and sent in half a dozen dogs with video cameras strapped to their backs to search the inside of the house remotely. The dogs found the man and the military then entered the house and arrested both the owner of the house (who did not know the man he let in other than that the man needed help) and the wanted man. Neither has been released yet. On the way out of the house one of the soldiers dropped a 2 kg flachette explosive in the middle of the house which destroyed the interior of the house.

The night before last, the military entered Block O to conduct more supposed tunnel searching missions. We were unable to get into the area yesterday, since the cousin of our local coordinator was killed in the night by apache gunfire during the operation. >>

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