Weekly report on human rights violations

April 18 - 24, 2002

Although Israeli occupation forces withdrew from some cities, they surrounded and imposed a strict siege on these cities. Israeli forces have attacked Palestinian civilians and property. These attacks have included willful killing and shelling and destruction of property. This week, 29 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 12 children, were killed by Israeli occupation forces.

Rescue teams have continued to remove bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces during the offensive on Jenin refugee camp.

On Sunday morning, 21 April, Israeli occupation forces declared that they had ‘withdrawn’ from the cities of Ramallah, al-Bireh, Nablus and Jenin, while maintaining strict sieges on the compound of President Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and the Church of the Ntivity in Bethlehem and redeploying in tight cordons around these cities.

The destruction and war crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces, especially in Nablus and Jenin, are apparent now that cities in the West Bank have become accessible to independent observers. A number of international missions described what happened in Jenin as more violent than an earthquake, and a European parliamentary delegation described it as a war crime. After withdrawing from Jenin refugee camp, Israeli forces continued their attempts to conceal evidence of human rights violations.

On Thursday evening, 18 April, Israeli occupation forces blocked two Norwegian and Swedish delegations who were on their way to Jenin refugee camp to express their solidarity with its residents and provide assistance in the rescue and removal of bodies. Israeli forces stopped the delegates at al-Jalama roadblock for three hours and then forced them to go back.

On Friday, 19 April, Israeli authorities deported a mission of international experts who came to gather evidence on violations committed by Israeli occupation forces in Jenin refugee camp.

The mission came upon an invitation by PCHR, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW), and Adalah, in coordination with the office of the Arab member of Knesset ‘Azmi Bishara. The mission included five experts from Greece, Denmark and Australia.

On Tuesday, 23 April, the Israeli government canceled its agreement to cooperate with a fact-finding commission formed by UN Secretary General Kofi Anan to investigate crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces in Jenin refugee camp.

The commission is comprised of four members: the former Finnish President Marthi Ahtsiri as ahead, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, the former director of ICRC Cornelio Somaruga and former US army general Bill Nash. The Israeli government has withdrawn its initial promises of investigation. According to initial estimations by the World Health Organization and the Palestinian Ministry of Health, around 600 houses were totally destroyed and 200 rendered uninhabitable in Jenin refugee camp.

In the old city of Nablus, Israeli occupation forces destroyed the 3,000-year heritage of the city, including numerous historical buildings. Israeli forces destroyed the centre of the city, which included Roman and Islamic objets d’art. They also destroyed many buildings from the Ottoman era. Israeli forces also destroyed many old houses and factories. They also partially destroyed the Roman wells and a nunnery. A mosque that was built in 1187 was also severely damaged.

In Bethlehem, Israeli occupation forces have maintained a strict siege on the Church of the Nativity, despite international and humanitarian calls to lift the siege. Approximately 200 Palestinians in the church have been without medicines, water and electricity. Bodies of two Palestinians killed by Israeli forces two weeks ago have been blocked inside the church. On Saturday, 20 April, Israeli occupation forces cut telephone communications from the church. Israeli forces have continued their attempts to move into the church. At approximately 19:30 on Monday, 22 April, Israeli forces opened fire at the church. They also fired tear gas canisters into the church. A room in the church was burnt.

This week, Israeli occupation forces shot dead at least 19 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children, for no apparent reason, and without these victims having posed and threat to Israeli forces.

In a continuation of the policy of assassination formally adopted by the Israeli government, Israeli occupation forces committed two assassinations in al-Nassaria village and Hebron, killing five Palestinians.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation forces shelled and invaded Palestinian residential areas in the middle and southern areas. Five Palestinian civilians were killed, and dozens, mostly children were wounded. Israeli forces also razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land, especially in Wadi al-Salqa village in the middle area.

This week, Israeli forces maintained the total siege imposed on the OPT. Israeli forces separated Palestinian areas, transforming them into Bantustans.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation forces divided the strip into three isolated zones. They have prevented movement of persons and goods, in violation of the economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians. Israeli forces have also maintained a strict siege on al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip for the fourth consecutive week.

This week, a sick Palestinian baby died when Israeli occupation forces prevented her evacuation to hospital for emergency treatment.

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