The Israeli Occupation Forces have expanded their military operations in the Gaza Strip.
Sixteen days after the start of an IOF incursion into the northern area of the Strip, they have carried out an incursion in the southern Gaza refugee camp of Rafah.
Since 28 September 2004, at least 550 Palestinians have been killed or injured by the IOF in the Strip, including 169 children.
The majority of the victims are civilians.
According to Al Mezan Center's investigations, at approximately 6:40 pm today, Wednesday 14 October 2004, an Israeli tank opened fire towards Block (J) in the refugee camp of Rafah killing 16-year-old Jihad Housam Barhoum and injuring his 8-year-old cousin, Abdul Rahman Salman Barhoum.
Both were hit by live bullets.
At approximately 9:45pm, tanks and armored bulldozers stormed into the same block under intense fire and an umbrella of helicopter gun-ships.
Three people were killed while trying to flee the block: 70-year-old Ismail Muhammad As Sawalha, 21-year-old Ahmad Salih Al tahrawi and 23-year-old Ali Abdul Kareem Shaath.
A fourth 75-year-old woman, Khadra Shuman was wounded by shrapnel in her head.
All of them are residents of the Block (J) neighborhood.
The IOF pulled out from Block (J) at approximately 4:30am, but only after they had demolished 35 homes.
Al Mezan's fieldworker, who visited the neighborhood, reported that 353 people used to live in these homes, most of whom were children.
Moreover, the IOF continued their incursion into north Gaza for the 16th day, in which they again employed excessive and indiscriminate force.
106 people, including 27 children have been killed during this period in this area while 23 others have been killed by the IOF in other parts of the Strip.
The total number of children to die has reached 31.
Additionally, more than 450 Palestinians were injured, 138 of whom are children.
As a result of the siege and the acts of destruction, the area is suffering from a severe lack of drinking water, medicine and electricity.
Technical teams and humanitarian personnel have been prevented, or in the best case delayed, from trying to fix water lines or deliver aid materials.
The Center has also documented many cases where the IOF has targeted medical teams.
Moreover, the IOF has demolished 85 homes and caused damage to hundreds of homes and other properties.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the conduct of the IOF and their aggression towards Palestinian civilians through employing excessive, lethal force in populated areas, which has caused severe loss of civilian life and property.
The Center is gravely concerned by the flagrant violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip perpetrated by the occupying power, especially the use of disproportionate, indiscriminate force in one of the most heavily populated areas in the world.
The Center renews its call upon the international community to urgently intervene and ensure respect for international law, particularly the 4th Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War, of 1949.
The absence of effective intervention on the part of the international community has allowed for more Israeli violations and grave breaches of humanitarian law.
An effective international intervention to bring to a halt the ongoing violations constitutes a legal and moral responsibility for the international community, especially under the continued Israeli escalation.