Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
21- 27 Sep. 2006
A Special Issue on the 6th Anniversary of the al-Aqsa Intifada
Six Years of Israeli Aggression on the OPT; IOF Commit Unprecedented War Crimes against Palestinian Civilians and Property
This report coincides with the 6th anniversary of the eruption of the al-Aqsa Intifada, which broke out following the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to al-Aqsa Mosque (the Holy Sanctuary) in occupied Jerusalem. Over the last 6 years, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have perpetrated grave breaches of international law, including war crimes, against Palestinian civilians, in a manner unprecedented since 1967. The 6th year of the Intifada witnessed an increasing escalation in Israeli war crimes as the international community remained silent and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 failed to meet their obligations to ensure respect for the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and provide protection for Palestinian civilians. The international silence has served to encourage the Israeli government and its occupation forces to perpetrate more war crimes with impunity against Palestinian civilians. Over the last 12 months, IOF have stepped up illegal operations in the OPT, especially in the Gaza Strip. The number of Palestinian civilians killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip in the second half of the year reminds of the numbers of civilians killed by IOF in the West Bank during the Operation Defensive Shield in spring 2002.
In the 6th year of the Intifada, 504 Palestinians, including 398 civilians (79%) have killed by IOF. The number of civilian victims includes 93 children (23%) and 14 women (3.5%). According to PCHR's documentation, 138 Palestinians have been extra-judicially executed by IOF ( 34.5% of the total number of civilian victims). This number includes 90 targeted persons and 48 civilian bystanders, including 23 children.
By the end of the 6th year of the al-Aqsa Intifada, 3859 Palestinians, including 3069 civilians
( 79.5%), have been killed. According to PCHR's documentation, 585 Palestinians have been extra-judicially executed by IOF (19% of the total number of civilian victims). This number includes 376 targeted persons and 209 civilian bystanders, including 71 children.
Contrary to claims by IOF that they withdrew from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, which PCHR viewed as a form of redeployment, IOF waged an open war on the Gaza Strip after Palestinian resistance activists had killed two IOF soldiers and captured a third on 25 June 2006. This wide scale military campaign named "Operation Summer Rains" is still ongoing. Since the beginning of this campaign, 237 Palestinian, including 147 civilians, have been killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip. The number of civilian victims includes 53 children and 13 women. In addition, 821 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 220 children and 35 women, have been wounded.
According to PCHR's documentation, IOF have fired at least 260 air-to-surface missiles and hundreds of artillery shells at targets, mostly civilian ones, in the Gaza Strip. Buildings of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National economy, the office of the Palestinian Prime Minister and a number of educational institutions have been destroyed. The electricity generation plant, providing 45% of the electricity of the Gaza Strip, was destroyed, and electricity networks and transmitters have been repeatedly attacked. Six bridges linking Gaza City with the central Gaza Strip and a number of roads have been destroyed. IOF have also destroyed hundreds of donums of agricultural land and dozens of houses have been destroyed. The Palestinian governmental compound in Nablus has been destroyed. Many families in the Gaza Strip have been forced to leave their houses. IOF warplanes have destroyed 44 houses belonging to activists of Palestinian factions.
In the 6th year of the Intifada, IOF continued to shell Palestinian residential areas. Complete families were killed or wounded by the IOF shelling. For instance, on 9 June 2006, IOF killed 'Alai Ghalia, his wife and 5 of the their children. On 12 July 2006, IOF killed Nabeel Abu Silmiya, his wife and 7 of their children. IOF have employed warplanes to extra-judicially executed Palestinian in densely populated areas, rendering casualties among Palestinian civilians, especially children. Furthermore, IOF have adopted a new policy since 23 July 2006, under which they warn Palestinian civilians that their houses would be attacked, a very short period that does not exceed an hour prior to the actual attack. IOF often claim that weapons are stored in these houses or that tunnels are dug under them to smuggle weapons.
In the West Bank, IOF continued to construct the annexation wall inside the West Bank territory, in violation of international law and humanitarian law, and the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in Hague, which considered the construction of the wall illegal and called for its dismantlement.
In an attempt to undermine the results of the Palestinian elections, which were held on 25 January 2006, IOF waged an arrest campaign against members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) representing the Change and Reform Bloc affiliated to Hamas and cabinet ministers. IOF arrested 31 PLC members, including the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Secretary. The PLC Deputy Speaker was released later. In addition, IOF arrested 8 ministers, including the Deputy Prime Minister. Three ministers, including the Deputy Prime Minister, were released later, while the others have been kept in custody.
On 14 March 2006, IOF completed initiated a large-scale military operation that imed to apprehend Ahmad Sa'adat, the Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the elected member of the PLC, a number of PFLP activists charged with assassinating Rehavam Ze'vi (Israeli ex-Minister of Tourism), and Major General Fuad al-Shobaki, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council who is charged with smuggling the Karen A arms shipment. This operation was initiated 15 minutes after the sudden withdrawal of American and British monitors charged with guarding Sa;adat, in accordance with an agreement, drafted mainly by the United States. Israeli, American, and British officials attempted to deny any prior coordination between them. However, the Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, said in statements to Haaretz newspaper after the operation that Israel knew before hand about the time of the monitors' withdrawal from Jericho prison. Further, he stated that the army had been preparing for over a week to storm the prison and kidnap the prisoners. PCHR had previously stressed that no party, whether the IOF, Palestinian National Authority, or international community, has the right to formulate an agreement that violates International Humanitarian Law. This position was stated in reference to the agreement regarding Sa'adat's detention in Jericho prison (refer to the PCHR's press release dated 4 June 2002). Thus, PCHR raises question over the international community's role in enforcing past and future agreements to which Israel is a party.
Israeli military actions have violated the political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinian civilians.
The six years of the al-Aqsa Intifada have been characterized by the following Israeli military attacks:
· Prolonged Incursions and redeployment into Palestinian Authority controlled areas.
· Massive killings and destruction of houses and civilian property.
· Extra-judicial executions against Palestinian activists and political leaders, the most significant of which targeted Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and leader of Hamas, and his successor, Dr. 'Abdul 'Aziz al-Rantissi.
· Destruction of the Palestinian economy and the structure of the Palestinian Authority through the destruction of civil and security facilities.
· Using Palestinian civilians as human shields during military operations in the OPT.
· Closing Rafah International Crossing Point and other border crossings of the Gaza Strip.
· Chasing fishermen and depriving them of their sources of income.
· Storming Jericho Prison and arresting senior political leaders.
· Humiliation of Palestinian at military checkpoints.
· Deportation of a number of Palestinian activists.
· Continued construction of the annexation wall inside the West Bank territory, in a challenge for the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice, which considered the construction of the wall illegal.
· Wilful killing of Palestinian civilians.
· Indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian civilian residential areas using various forms of weaponry, including warplanes, tanks and machine guns.
· Collective punishment of Palestinian civilians, denying them their basic human rights, including the rights of health, education, freedom of movement and work, through imposing a tightened siege on the OPT.
· Transformation of Qalandya checkpoint into an international border crossing between the West Bank and Israel.
· Arbitrary arrests and placing Palestinians in administrative detention.
· Closure of a number of charitable societies in the West Bank.
· Systematic attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians.
A table showing those killed during the al-Aqsa Intifada from 29 September 2000 to 28 September 2006
Palestinians killed in attacks by Israeli occupying forces, settlers and Israeli police in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and inside Israel
3859, including 3069 civilians
504, including 398 civilians
Palestinians killed in the West Bank
1722, including 1552 civilians
122, including 105 civilians
Palestinians killed in Gaza Strip
2137, including 1517 civilians
382, including 293
Children killed in the Gaza Strip
Children killed in the West Bank
Females killed in the Gaza Strip
Females killed in the West Bank
Palestinians killed in extra-judicial executions
376, including 209 civilian bystanders (71 of them are children)
90, including 48 civilian bystanders (23 of them are children)
Medical personnel killed
Civilians killed in settler attacks
A table showing those injured during the al-Aqsa Intifada from 29 September 2000 to 28 September 2006
A table showing land levelling, house demolitions and destruction to industrial and educational facilities in the Gaza Strip during the al-Aqsa Intifada, from 29 September 2000 to 28 September 2006
Industrial facilities destroyed
----IN JUST THIS WEEK ALONE-----
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Escalate Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)
· 6 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children and one woman, were killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip.
· IOF shot the woman from a zero range.
· IOF conducted 33 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 4 others into the Gaza Strip.
· IOF arrested 16 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, and 9 others in the Gaza Strip.
· IOF demolished 13 houses in Um al-Nasser village in the southern Gaza Strip.
· IOF transformed two houses in Hebron into military sites.
· IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT; IOF have imposed a tightened siege on the Gaza Strip; and IOF positioned at a various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested 8 Palestinian civilians, including a child.
Israeli violations of international law continued in the OPT during the reported period (21 - 27 September 2006):
Killing: During the reported period, IOF killed 6 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children and a woman, in the Gaza Strip.
On Thursday morning, 21 September 2006, IOF killed two Palestinian civilians, including a woman in Um al-Nasser village, northeast of Rafah. IOF killed the woman from a zero range when she protested against IOF soldier who beat her deaf husband. The woman was left bleeding until for several hours. The other civilian was killed in the same area by the indiscriminate IOF gunfire. On the same day, IOF killed 3 children in Jabalya town in the northern Gaza Strip, while they were herding sheep. On 27 September 2006, a child was killed when IOF dropped a bomb at a neighboring house. In addition, 21 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children, were wounded by the IOF shelling in Rafah.
Thus, the number of Palestinians killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip since 25 June 2006 has increased to 237, including 53 children and 13 women. In addition, 821 others, mostly civilians,
In the west Bank, 6 Palestinian civilians, including two children, were wounded by IOF gunfire throughout the West Bank.
Incursions: During the reported period, IOF conducted at least 33 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they raided dozens of houses and arrested 16 Palestinian civilians, including a child. IOF also transformed two houses into military sites. In an act of piracy, IOF broke into the Jordanian National Bank and 11 money exchange shops in the West Bank. They arrested 7 money exchangers and confiscated big amounts of money. Israeli sources estimated the confiscated money at 6 million NIS (US$ 1.3 million), and claimed that these money exchange shop transferred amounts of money that were used to finance attacks on Israeli targets. In the Gaza Strip, IOF conducted 4 incursions in the southern Gaza Strip villages of Um al-Nasser and al-Foukhari, and into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. During these incursions IOF arrested 11 Palestinian civilians and demolished at least 14 houses.
Restrictions on Movement: IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Occupied East Jerusalem.
IOF have imposed a strict siege on the Gaza Strip. They have closed its border crossings as a form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians.
IOF have closed Rafah International Crossing Point since 25 June 2006, even though they do not directly control it. During the reported period, the crossing point was reopened for 3 days and thousands of Palestinians were able to travel from and to the Gaza Strip. IOF have closed commercial crossings of the Gaza Strip, especially al-Mentar (Karni) crossing. As a consequence, the economic situation inside the Gaza Strip has further deteriorated and many goods have been lacked in markets. During the reported period, IOF partially reopened al-Mentar (Karni) crossing, east of Gaza City, and Sofa and Kerem Shalom crossings near Rafah. IOF have also continued to close Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip had been prevented from traveling through this crossing. IOF have allowed international workers to pass through the crossing. With this closure, only few Palestinian patients have been able to travel to hospitals in Israel and the West Bank. In addition, IOF have prevented Palestinian fishermen from fishing for 3 months.
IOF have tightened the siege imposed on Palestinian communities in the West Bank. They have isolated Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. IOF positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. IOF have continued to separate between the north and south of the West Bank. During the reported period, IOF positioned at various checkpoints around imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. During the reported period, IOF positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested 8 Palestinian civilians, including a child.