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Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Press Release, 4 July 2006
PCHR condemns IOF military operations in the Gaza Strip and the targeting of infrastructure and civilian organizations, most notably educational institutions. The Centre calls upon governments, non-governmental organizations, and UN organizations, especially UNESCO, to work towards the immediate cessation of IOF war crimes against educational institutions in the Gaza Strip.
PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 01:15 on Tuesday, 4 July 2006, an IOF helicopter gunship fired a rocket at a building in the Islamic University campus in Gaza. The rocket targeted a student council office, destroying it completely. IOF had previously targeted the university building with another rocket on 29 June 2006. However, the rocket fell in the university’s soccer field without causing injury or damage.
In addition, Atfaluna institution for children with hearing disabilities suffered damage as result of sonic booms, caused by Israeli F-16s flying at low altitude and breaking the sound barrier, over Gaza city last Tuesday and Wednesday. These caused extensive damage to the institution’s vocational training workshops. A number of shelves and clay productions were destroyed, as well as training equipment and tools. Two deaf students were injured by glass debris caused by one sonic boom raid.
It is noted that dozens of Palestinian educational institutions, including universities and schools, have suffered extensive damage since the start of Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000. On 25 September 2005, IOF fighter jets dropped two bombs on Dar Al-Aqram School. The school is located in the densely-populated El-Tuffah area of Gaza City and more than 1200 pupils study there. The air raid destroyed the three-storey school administration building completely. In addition, a number of study rooms were partially destroyed and some nearby houses and installations were also damaged. The raid also injured twenty-three Palestinians, including seven children.
PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to intervene immediately to put an end to IOF war crimes against civilian installations and civilians in the Gaza Strip. The Centre calls for:
– An immediate cessation to the targeting of educational institutions, and an end to violations of the right to education, ensuring the protection of educational institutions and prohibiting attacks on them;
– Respecting the rights of vulnerable groups, ensuring protection for rehabilitation organizations for the disabled, and respecting their right to education and rehabilitation; and
– A boycott of the Israeli government by international academic institutions in order to pressure it to stop attacking educational institutions.