18 March 2003
In these nervous few hours before one superpower, the USA, and its three supporters, the UK, Spain and Australia, announce whether there will be a war upon Iraq, LAW looks to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and fears more of the same human rights violations will be carried out by Israel as attention turns to Iraq.
LAW fears an increase of punitive home demolitions, intended to punish the families of ‘wanted’ political activists, of suicide bombers and other armed combatants.
Since the beginning of the Intifada, at least 1,133 homes have been demolished. In the past two weeks, 17 homes have been demolished as collective punishment. LAW fears an increase in home and land destruction on security pretexts, particularly around the Egypt-Palestine border in Gaza, and around the northern West Bank sections close to Israel’s apartheid wall. In the past two weeks, 15 homes were demolished on security pretexts.
LAW fears an increase of ‘strikes’ into Gaza, which have caused immeasurable loss and suffering to Palestine’s poorest of the poor, the refugees in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of this year, at least 93 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip. We fear an increase of extra-judicial assassinations, of the mass-rounding of Palestinians, the possible deportation of some political prisoners. At least 136 extra-judicial assassinations have taken place since the beginning of the Intifada. 2,232 Palestinians have been killed since this Intifada began. The overwhelming majority – 1,806 were civilians. 465 of them were children.
We fear that curfew and closure shall be imposed, preventing the sick from accessing treatment, mothers from purchasing food, if they have money, students from their education, farmers from accessing their fields, workers from their livelihoods, and the routine, boring details of life which stop under curfew and closure – the ability to live and participate in life itself. On Sunday, March 2, Najwan Salhi, 18 years-old died after Israeli troops refused to allow her entry into Jordan to be treated for lung cancer.
LAW fears that Israeli soldiers, border police and settlers shall exploit the world’s attention on Iraq and increase their humiliation of Palestinians, their wilful injuring and killing of Palestinians; effectively, their tyrannical and absolute rule over Palestinians, our lives, our movement, our futures. More than 58 Palestinians, including 13 children, have died after being denied access to health care during this Intifada, due to curfew and closures.
In short, LAW fears more of the same. LAW, in its role, shall attempt to continue its judicial activism, to demand Israel complies with international law, particularly the fourth Geneva convention. LAW shall continue to try to provide free legal aid to victims of human rights violations. LAW’s field workers shall try to continue to document human rights violations, including war crimes.
LAW urges local and international activists, their respective governments, international governmental and non-governmental institutions to pressure Israel to comply with international humanitarian law, and as always, LAW emphasis that the root of most poverty, hunger, violence, suffering and grief in Israel and Palestine is the continuance of the Israeli occupation of the 1967 Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, the Israeli settlements, and the plight of the Palestinian refugees.