Monday, December 31, 2007

B'Tselem: 373 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2007

Report, B'Tselem, 31 December 2007

"B'Tselem today releases its year-end report. According to B'Tselem data, the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in clashes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip dropped. However, there has been deterioration in many other measures of the human rights situation in the occupied territories. The primary one is the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which has declined to an all time low, following Israel's siege on the area.

Other highlights include:

* In 2007, there was an increase of 13 percent in the number of Palestinians held in administrative detention without trial, which averaged 830 people.
* Sixty-six staffed checkpoints and 459 physical roadblocks on average controlled movement inside the West Bank. There was little improvement in Palestinians' freedom of movement, despite the promised easing of restrictions.
* Israeli settlement population grew by 4.5 percent (compared with 1.5 percent population growth inside Israel), a more moderate increase than the previous year.
* Israel continues the freeze policy on family unification, denying tens of thousands of Palestinians the right to a family life. However, in what was termed a one-time gesture, Israel approved family unification for some 3,500 Palestinian families.
* The number of houses demolished in East Jerusalem rose by 38 percent, to 69 homes.
* Palestinians continue to face severe discrimination in the allocation of water in the West Bank, causing serious hardship in the summer.
* The number of Palestinians killed in intra-Palestinian clashes was the highest throughout the intifada.

According to B'Tselem, two themes clearly emerge from examination of the spectrum of human rights concerns in 2007. The first is the use of security justifications for virtually every Israeli action in the occupied territories. There is no doubt that Israel faces serious security threats, and is entitled and even obligated to do its utmost to protect its population. However, far too often, Israel fails to appropriately balance its security needs with equally important values, including protecting the rights of Palestinians under its control. In addition, Israeli authorities often exploit security threats in order to advance prohibited political interests, such as perpetuating settlements and effectively annexing them to Israel.

The second theme arising from the report is the lack of accountability of Israeli security forces, in all matters relating to human rights. This can be seen clearly in the reluctance of the state to thoroughly investigate violations and to prosecute those responsible for them. The lack of accountability can also be seen in the denial of most Palestinians' right to compensation when they are injured through no fault of their own by Israeli forces......."

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