Israeli Air Raids on Gaza Ramp Up
JERUSALEM – Highrise buildings, including apartment buildings in the Gaza are coming under attack from Israeli Fighter jets. The attacks came just before dawn. One of Gaza’s tallest structures, a 13-storey apartment and office tower was destroyed, along with most of a 16-floor residential building.
The Israeli military says it attacked 15 sites, including some in buildings it says housed Hamas command and control centers. At sun rise, residents returned to survey the damage.
This man says the Israeli Defense Forces called his neighbor to warn him of strikes: Mohammed Lubad said, “They told him that after the third one, no one should be around the area of the building, because they will strike the building. They said – do not count the strikes, and do not come back to the area.”
The warnings appear to have prevented any fatalities, although at least 20 people were wounded in the attack on a building known as the Italian Complex. Hamas is accusing Israel of an unprecedented act of revenge against civilian targets.
United Nations Concern Grows
An independent United Nations expert has requested access to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory to gather first-hand information on the impact of current hostilities on the human rights situation.
“As a newly appointed Special Rapporteur, it is my priority to see with my own eyes the situation on the ground, to listen and to speak face-to-face with victims and witnesses, and to discuss issues of concern with officials on both sides,” Makarim Wibisono said in a news release.
Mr. Wibisono is tasked by the Geneva-UN Human Rights Council with monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The last visit of a Special Rapporteur with this mandate to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory was in 2007. Access was then granted by Israel, but no meetings with Israeli officials were held.
“The recent escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip and heightened tensions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have given me an even greater sense of urgency to see at first-hand the impact on the lives of civilians,” he stressed.
The Rapporteur voiced dismay at the renewed escalation of hostilities, and urged leaders to take “bold and courageous steps to immediately bring this senseless violence to a halt, particularly in light of the exceedingly high loss of life.”
Over the past six weeks of hostilities, the death toll has already exceeded 1,450 Palestinian civilians, including over 490 children, and four civilians in Israel. Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain in UN shelters or with host families across the Gaza Strip, the news release pointed out.
It is estimated that around 17,200 housing units have been totally destroyed or rendered uninhabitable across the Gaza Strip, with life-sustaining infrastructure for entire neighbourhoods in need of urgent repair.
Mr. Wibisono reiterated the joint appeal made with fellow UN experts before the Human Rights Council in July to both sides to abide by the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and for much more to be done to protect civilians.
FILES: DAILY MOTION / REUTERS / United Nations