Urgent Action Appeal:
Israel applies collective punishment and excessive force, threatening the lives of Gaza's population
Case ISRâ€“FE 170606 On the 25 June 2006, Palestinian militants conducted a raid at the crossing point and military outpost of Karem Shalom, resulting in Palestinian militants, capture of an Israeli soldier.
The raid followed escalating attacks by Israeli forces, including the shelling of a North Gaza beach earlier in the month on 9 June, which killed seven members of a Palestinian family.
The soldier's captors are demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners, especially women and children, being held in Israeli jails in exchange for information on the soldier's whereabouts.
The State of Israel's response was categorically to reject any notion of dialogue.
Instead, its decision was to invade Gaza and arrest ministers and Legislative Council Members, in order to apply pressure on the captured legislators to release the soldier.
On 28 June, the State of Israel launched a massive military offensive against the people of Gaza through a campaign of collective punishment against the nearly 1.
4 million inhabitants.
The Israeli missiles are attacking civilian and public property, including vital roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
The assaults have destroyed Gaza's only power plant supplying the area with most of its household electricity, government buildings, three major bridges, and several educational institutions, including the Islamic University of Gaza.
Besieging Israeli forces have closed all crossings into Gaza (except instances of the Karni Crossing opening for a few hours), depriving access to vital aid and humanitarian workers, and barring observers and journalists.
The repeated use of predawn sonic booms causes general fear among the civilian population, especially children.
The destruction of civilian infrastructure has continued despite international condemnations.
Israeli forces have caused the arrest and illegal transfer of 27 elected Palestinian legislators, including eight cabinet ministers, being detained without charge.
Others have gone into hiding.
By targeting civic personnel and institutions, Israeli forces are eliminating the principal assets required to maintain local stability and order.
Although the entire Gaza Strip is subject to air strikes and shelling, the Israeli army is intensifying its offensive in following areas: In northern Gaza Strip, where Israeli forces have invaded and reoccupied the ex-Israeli settlements and moved to a depth of five kilometres, expanding the â€œsecurity zoneâ€? that the military has created after they pulled out of Gaza in December 2005.
In Beit Hanoun (northeast) and Beit Lahiya (northwest) in the northern Gaza Strip, where occupation forces are carrying out intensive bombardment of residential areas Two day ago, on 15 July 2006, Israeli forces also entered the middle-Gaza area and took control of the main street (same location where Abu Houli Checkpoint was prior to the disengagement) Since the start of the siege, at least 91 Palestinians have died, including 23 children and 188 have been injured.
Gaza currently endures a total suspension of electricity after the Israeli army bombed the only electricity station in the area.
Petrol resources have become depleted, causing many of the water wells to stop running, depriving the Sheikh Radhwan neighbourhood, for example.
In addition, Israeli authorities have prohibited the entry of basic aid, including food and medical supplies.
The severe shortage of basic necessities and the lack of water place many Palestinians at serious risk of starvation.
Israel has also shut down the main civilian crossings into Gaza, including Rafah, thus stranding 4,700 residents on the Egyptian side of Gaza's border.
At least four people have died at the crossing so far, including one infant, two women and one elderly man.
Most of them were returning after receiving medical treatment abroad when the crossing closed and have since been waiting there with some 4,500 Palestinians.
International authorities warn of impending disaster as a result of Israel's continuing violence.
Several UN agencies, including UNRWA, WHO, WFP, UNICEF and OCHA, have warned that Gaza is on the verge of a public health disaster.
All persistently emphasize that shortages in water supplies, the prevention of basic medical supplies from entering Gaza, and the loss of electrical capacity to preserve existing depleting supplies of food places the Palestinian population at both starvation and health risks, including ensuing disease from the piling of sewage and solid waste due to municipalities rendered unable to maintain sanitation services.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan bluntly has declared the need for Israel to differentiate between civilians and combatants.
Annan has urged Israel to lift restrictions on movements of basic food stuffs and to restore power to the region's only power station, which supplies all local hospitals, water and sanitation plants, and food production.