The Coordination Office of the Housing and Land Rights Network of Habitat International Coalition (HIC-HLRN) and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) request your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).
Brief description of the situation
Al-Haq, a member of OMCT and HIC-HLRN networks, has informed the International Secretariat of OMCT that, on 26 February 2004, Israeli security forces killed four people who were protesting against the construction of the annexation/apartheid Wall, and wounded dozens of others in Biddu, West Bank.
According to the information received, protestors from the Beit Surik village and neighbouring villages laid down in front of the bulldozers preparing the ground for a new section of the Wall on 25 February 2004. Israeli soldiers beat the protestors with batons and rifle butts, but the demonstrators succeeded in forcing the bulldozers and soldiers to retreat.
It is reported that a much larger deployment of Israeli security forces returned with the bulldozers on 26 February. That provoked a reaction from several Palestinian youths, who started throwing stones in the bulldozersï¿½ direction. The Israeli soldiers responded by shooting the protesters with teargas grenades, causing the death of Abd al-Rahman Abu ï¿½Id (70 years old) by asphyxiation. According to the information received, the Israeli soldiers started firing live bullets after 10:30 AM. They shot Zakariyya Muhammad ï¿½Id (27) in the chest and Muhammad Fadil Rayyan (25) in the waist, killing them both. Soldiers also seriously wounded six people with live bullets fired at short range. They shot Muhammad Fahmi Badwan (22) with a rubber-coated metal bullet to the head, and he subsequently was declared clinically dead as a result of internal bleeding. By the end of the day, Israeli soldiers had wounded 55 protesters, who were taken to hospitals in Ramallah.
The Palestinians were protesting against the construction of the ï¿½annexation/apartheidï¿½ Wall on their land. As a consequence of the Wallï¿½s construction, the Israeli occupation forces have been confiscating the land of many indigenous villages, and destroying olive groves trees and other properties. With legal proceedings against the Wall ongoing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Palestinians in the occupied territory have mounted numerous anti-Wall demonstrations since its construction began. OMCT and HIC-HLRN also have received other reports of Israeli forces using violence against demonstrators across the occupied territory. OMCT and HIC-HLRN are gravely concerned by the further dispossession of land that the Wall is causing, and by the escalation in repression and violence against demonstrators with the use of excessive and lethal force against unarmed protestors. Moreover, we denounce the occupying powerï¿½s confiscation of private and public Palestinian property, in particular land, upon which the Palestinian people rely for their subsistence and self-determination.
In June 2002, the Israeli Government began the construction of what it refers to as the ï¿½separation fence/barrier,ï¿½ and what Palestinians commonly term the ï¿½Annexation Wallï¿½ or ï¿½Apartheid Wall.ï¿½ OMCT, HIC-HLRN and PENGON (Palestinian Environmental NGO Network) jointly issued an urgent appeal concerning the Wall construction on 5 August 2003 (Case ISR-FE 050803), addressing both Israelï¿½s Military Government and ï¿½nationalï¿½ institutions involved in the colonization of the OPT.
Currently, this Wall stretches over 180 kilometers and Israeli planners intend to extend it by another 507 kilometers. The Wall does not follow the 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line) that forms the pre-1967 occupation boundary between Israel and Palestine, and it has the effect of incorporating substantial parts of the Palestinian occupied territory into Israel. The construction will isolate and, in effect, annex approximately 210,000 acres of the West Bank land. The Wall is dispossessing Palestinians of some of their most-fertile agricultural land and most-important water sources in the region. Furthermore, the construction process already has destroyed a vast number of trees and water pipes. Estimates indicate that more than 274,000 Palestinians, in 122 villages and towns, either will live in closed areas between the Wall and the Israeli 1949 border, or in enclaves that it totally surrounds. In addition, 400,000 Palestinians living to the east of the Wall will need to cross itï¿½with extreme difficultyï¿½to access their farms, workplaces, and other services.
Inhabitants of the affected areas, therefore, are losing most of their agricultural lands, infrastructure and livelihoods, on which their economy, culture, identity and survival have depended for many generations, indeed centuries. In notable cases, this destruction also forecloses Palestinian villagersï¿½ only access to water sources. Moreover, the Wall totally severs the normal economic, social and family relations among the affected inhabitants. They are trapped between the Wall and the Green Line, and are compelled to leave or face complete isolation from all normal economic survival and vital services.
Human rights, international law and treaty violations
By its excessive and disproportionate use of force and firearms, Israel violates Arts 4 and 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); Arts. 2 and 3 of the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials;and Principles 9, 10, 13 and 14 of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Through the construction of the wall and accompanying acts, Israel violates, among others, the human rights to property, work, freedom of movement, water, and all the elements of the right to adequate housing, especially security of tenure, access to public goods and services (including education and health), enjoyment of natural resources (including land and water), freedom from dispossession and deprivation of means of subsistence, the right to participation & self-expression and physical security. All of these are internationally recognized elements of the right to adequate housing. Israel, therefore, violates Arts. 6, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), including duties spelled out in General Comments 4 & 7 on the human right to adequate housing, General Comment 12 on the right to food and General Comment 15 on the right to water. In particular, the deprivation caused by Israelï¿½s arbitrary confiscation of occupied lands and water sources breaches Israelï¿½s obligations to respect the common ICESCR and ICCPR Article 1.2 prohibitions against actions that deprive a people of its own means of subsistence. Having ratified the ICESCR and ICCPR on 3 January 1992, the State of Israel is bound by these treaties to conduct itself in line with these minimum norms of State behaviour.
Please write to the authorities in Israel urging them to:
i. Desist from using excessive and lethal force against the protestors or communities affected by the construction of the Wall;
ii. Guarantee an immediate investigation into the circumstances of these events, identify those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial civil tribunal, and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;
iii. Guarantee that adequate compensation is provided to the families of the victims who were killed, and to those who were injured;
iv. Cease construction of the Wall, dismantle the existing parts and return to the status quo ante;
v. Stop confiscation of land and destruction of property for the construction of the wall;
vi. Return all land that has been confiscated for the construction and ensure that the people affected by the construction of the wall are given restitution and compensation for loss and damage of property and livelihood;
vii. Compensate and rehabilitate those Palestinian inhabitants and communities whom the Wall has affected;
viii. Guarantee respect, protection, promotion and fulfilment of human rights and the fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law in the areas under Israel jurisdiction and/or effective control.
Mr. Yosef Lapid
Minister of Justice
29 Salah al-Din Street
Jerusalem 91010, Israel
Fax: + 972 (0)2 628-5438
Attorney-General/Legal Adviser to the Government
Ministry of Justice
29 Salah al-Din Street
Jerusalem 91010, Israel
Fax: +972 (0)2 628-5438 / 3 569-4370
Please also write to the embassies of Israel in your respective country.