Israeli forces attack the Gaza Strip: death, destruction and despair
September 14, 2002
For the last week Israeli forces have systematically attacked different locations and neighborhoods in the Gaza strip during brief, but aggressive invasions of Palestinian areas; both random large-scale destruction and “targeted” demolition of Palestinian homes and infrastructure has increased in the last period. The destructive attacks are leaving scores of Palestinians homeless and spread fear of an upcoming full-scale Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.
Last Saturday (September 7) the local Fateh headquarters in Deir Al-Balah (southern Gaza Strip) was completely demolished by Israeli army explosives and several Palestinian workshops were demolished. In at least one case, a Palestinian family living upstairs from one of the workshops, lost their home in the same demolition attack.
One of the worst of these recent attacks took place early yesterday morning (Friday 13 September) when about 40 tanks and several bulldozers backed by helicopter gun ships forced their way into the Salam and Brazil neighborhoods in Rafah (southern Gaza Strip).
A 26-year-old Palestinian police man, Subhi Rajab Zeino, was killed by shrapnel as the Israeli army entered the area under heavy tank shelling.
Twenty-one Palestinian homes were destroyed; some of them were totally demolished and others got lesser damages when tanks pushed through the narrow streets of the neighborhoods, knocking down walls and destroying everything in the way. Most of the families fled their homes when the Israeli troops first entered and opened fire indiscriminately. Eyewitnesses said that people would have been buried in their homes if they had not escaped before the tanks and bulldozers started to attack. Seven Palestinians were injured during the invasion, two seriously. Four metal workshops were also demolished.
The Israeli army rampage in Rafah caused extensive damage to other infrastructure as well; streets were torn up, water pipes were broken and the electricity supply cut. During the invasion, soldiers issued public warnings to “the citizens of Gaza” threatening that “anyone found assisting the Palestinian “terrorists” will be severely punished”.
Local sources in Gaza say there is a growing fear among the population that the Israeli army is preparing for a full-scale invasion of the Gaza strip. Similarly to what happened in the West Bank prior to the first invasion, particularly in the refugee camps, the Israeli army is now attacking sensitive areas in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this year the Israeli army allegedly postponed an invasion of Gaza because of the “difficult” infrastructure; the recent attacks and destruction is interpreted as the Israeli army preparing ground by demolishing and “clearing way” for the anticipated invasion of the Gaza Strip.