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From the field

15.1.09: B'Tselem: Stop the fighting immediately

Since 27 December, Israel has waged a military campaign in the Gaza Strip with disastrous consequences for the civilian population. Some one and a half million are living in terror of the Israeli shelling. The humanitarian distress has reached dire proportions, which the limited measures taken by the military have failed to address. So far, over one thousand Palestinians have been killed, among them at least 300 children and ninety-five women; at least 4,800 Palestinians have been injured, more than 400 of them seriously. Tens of thousands have been forced to abandon their homes, without knowing if they will have a place to return to. The damage to civilian infrastructure is unprecedented, many of the injured are prevented access to medical treatment and the electricity, water, and sewage systems are barely functioning.

The number of Israelis who are exposed to shelling has increased significantly. Some one million Israelis are now living under threat of rocket and missile fire from Gaza, and four persons were killed by missile fire at Israeli communities.

Continuation of the fighting will bring more death and destruction. Innocent civilians, among them large numbers of children, will be killed and wounded.

According to media reports, both sides have already agreed to the principle of a ceasefire. Under these circumstances, they must immediately stop the fighting.