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Rights Violations in Rafah- Update, 20 May Evening

[for immediate release- 17:30 (Tel Aviv), 20 May 2004]

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel continues to receive complaints from residents in the Rafah region, as well as from human rights and health groups. These are the major cases and problem that have been verified:

* Freedom of movement continues to be a major problem. In Brazil neighborhood ambulances must coordinate in advance so that the army will remove earth mounds that block the roads.

* Food and water is also running out, and some people have run out. Many families complained that they have no water and no food, especially baby food. Many of these families have children, including one baby 7 days old. There is also a severe milk shortage, many reports are claiming that there is no milk at all in Rafah.

* An Israeli army tractor dumped sand and dirt and thus blocked an ambulance near Abu Bakar mosque in Brazil neighborhood. The ambulance was stuck for an extended period of time, which according to sources was at least over an hour. The ambulance was traveling to evacuate 4 wounded people.

* These 4 people were wounded when they and another person came out of their home, at the army's demand, holding a white flag. A tank then fired at them. The wounded are a mother and her 3 children aged 9, 15 and 17. They have yet to be evacuated.

* Many people are stuck inside their homes, either afraid or unable to leave.

* Many people are without electricity in certain areas.

* A woman in need of insulin, who has been stuck inside her apartment building since Monday, has reported that her insulin has spoiled since she has no electricity and no way to keep the medicine at the proper temperature. Attempts to coordinate a solution with the army have yet to show results. In her building there are at least 21 people, 16 of them children, who also cannot leave. They are complaining that they have no food or water.

* A Palestinian civilian who speaks Hebrew was told by the Israeli army to accompany soldiers and go from house to house telling people to go in the direction of the Police station.

* Many people have been rounded up and held in tight spaces. In one case, from Brazil neighborhood, people from 16 apartments in one building were taken to an underground warehouse. All the men and male teenagers were taken away. All mobile telephones were taken by the army.

* In Brazil families were rounded up in the UNRWA local school without basic supplies.

* A 20 year old male was injured in Tel Sultan, and it was impossible for an ambulance to evacuate him. A family took him into their home and cared for him. Only after about an hour and a half did an ambulance arrive to evacuate him.

* The medical center is reporting that they have limited supplies of medicines and that they are in need of empty blood bags. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel demanded that the army allow for the transfer of blood from Shifa Hospital to Rafah in order to eliminate the need for the empty bags. The army promised to respond and said that everyone must remember that it is a conflict zone. The blood has yet to reach Rafah

* There are reports of people in danger from buildings that have been partially destroyed by the army, and there is concern that the remaining parts might collapse. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is aware of and involved in coordination efforts to evacuate the people.

* Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is also aware that it is becoming more difficult to remain in contact with the residents and to follow up on their cases because of the electricity problems.

* Physicians for Human Rights-Israel will be sending tomorrow morning a significant amount of basic disposable medical equipment to Yousaf A-Najar hospital in Rafah in response to their urgent needs and requests.

* Together with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Hamoked: Center for the Defence of Individual and B'tselem, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel filed a petition to the High Court this morning in regards to the situation in the Rafah region. See link below.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel claims that the continuation of the army's invasion within the civilian population endangers the lives of many civilians and severely harms all civil infrastructures. Therefore, the association calls for an end to the operation.

Previous update on Rafah from yesterday, 19 May (evening): http://www.phr.org.il/Phr/Pages/PhrArticle_Unit.asp?Cat=11&art=672

Press Release on High Court Petition: http://www.phr.org.il/Phr/Pages/PhrArticle_Unit.asp?Cat=11&art=673

Joint Israeli-Palestinian advertisement in Hebrew and Arabic media on the events in Gaza Strip: http://www.phr.org.il/Phr/Pages/PhrArticle_Unit.asp?Cat=11&art=670&Pcat=6

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is receiving constant updates from the field.

For more and most current information:

Shabtai Gold, Public Outreach- +972-54-4860630

Hadas Ziv, Director: Occupied Territories Project, +972-54-6623232

*Disclaimer due to the nature of the situation: The information in this email has been verified as being as accurate as possible only until the time it was sent. Please speak with a spokesperson from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel in order to verify the most recent details.


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