As the Israelis withdraw from the Gaza Strip, the process of disengagement is becoming both the cause of and cover for continued violations of Palestinian human rights by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and settlers.
On August 16th, the IOF occupied four houses near the settlements of Kfar Darom, Netzarim and Dugit, evicting the residents and turning the houses into military observation posts.
The army has also tightened the closure of the Gaza Strip, closing the main road running through the Gaza Strip and thus dividing northern Gaza from southern Gaza.
In addition, movement in and out of Al Muwassi, Siafa, Al Ma’ani and Abu Nahya continues to be severely restricted.
According to information collected by the Center’s fieldworkers, on August 16th, around 1am, the IOF occupied Raji Marzouk Eid As-Samiri’s house.
The house is located in the village of Wadi Sowqa, adjacent to a settlement.
The same day, around 1.
40am, the IOF occupied the house of Atta Said Mostapha Al Helu, turning it into a military post.
The house is located in Al Mughraqa village, adjacent to the road leading to Netzarim.
At approximately 7am, the army also occupied the house of Riad Zindah.
The house is located to the south west of the settlement of Dugit.
The residents were evicted and the house turned it into a military post.
The army informed the Zindah family that the house would remain occupied and off-limits to the family until the completion of the disengagement.
In addition, around 9am, the IOF occupied the house of Hussein Ouda Al Aidy, again turning it into a military post.
They also besieged two houses owned by Mohamed and Adnan Al Aidy.
Furthermore, Israeli settlers continued to attack residents of the Khan Younis section of Al Muwassi.
On August 16th, around 11.
30pm, a group of settlers moved into the Al Farra area, west of Neve Dakalim, and broke into the house of Saadi Al Farra.
Residents of Al Muwassi have also been subjected to a spate of detentions by the IOF.
The number of people detained in the last few days now stands at 11, the most recently detained being Orabi Al Laham, who was detained this morning.
Residents of all the so-called ‘enclaves’ – or Palestinian areas in particularly close proximity to the settlements – have been subject to severe restrictions on movement as result of the disengagement.
In Al Muwassi no movement is being allowed at all through one entrance to the area, and there are restrictions on movement through the southern entrance.
Meanwhile, residents of Siafa, in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, and Al Maani and Abu Nahya, in Deir Al Balah in the middle of the Gaza Strip, have been informed that these areas will remain closed until the end of the disengagement.
The IOF began implementing the closure yesterday evening – a similar closure was already in effect in Al Muwassi.
The IOF also announced this morning that the Salah Ad Din road will be closed during the day, opening only at night for a few hours, from today.
This closure is expected to last until the end of the disengagement.
This closure will negatively affect the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip, and is likely to result in violations of the rights to health, work and education.
Additionally, it will produce severe shortages of medical, food and fuel supplies for the residents of the southern Gaza Strip.
The closure is also likely to affect Palestinian farmers, who will be unable to transfer their produce to the governorates in the north of Gaza.
The Al Mezan Center condemns these violations of human rights and calls on the media to uphold its responsibility to cover all sides of the disengagement.
It is not sufficient to cover weeping settlers being evacuated from homes that are illegal under international law, while ignoring Palestinians being evicted from their fully legal homes by the Israeli army.
In particular, Al Mezan wishes to draw attention to the situation in the enclaves.
These areas have suffered greatly because of their proximity to the settlements, and are now suffering further as a result of the disengagement.
The Al Mezan Center reiterates that the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip constitute a war crime, sponsored and nurtured by successive Israeli governments.
They constitute a grave breach of international law, especially the fourth Geneva Convention.
Al Mezan calls on observers to avoid allowing the disengagement to function as a cover under which Palestinians’ human rights will continue to be violated.
Al Mezan calls upon the international community to pressure the Israeli government to respect the rights of Palestinian civilians and to end the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip.
It also emphasizes that the Israeli government should respect the rules of international law, which states that all Israeli settlements on Palestinian land occupied in 1967 must be removed.