Weekly report on human rights violations

April 4 - 10, 2002

Since 29 March 2002, Israeli occupation forces have launched an unprecedented all-out offensive on the West Bank cities. This week is the bloodiest week since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000.

For the 13th consecutive day, Israeli occupation forces have launched a full-scale offensive on the West Bank. They have arrested thousands of Palestinians in mass round-ups reminiscent of those carried out in Europe during World War II.

For four consecutive days, Israel F-16 fighter jets, combat helicopters, tanks bombarded Jenin refugee camp and Nablus and its refugee camps, causing hundreds of casualties among Palestinians and destroying dozens of houses with their residents inside. Because Israeli forces have declared these areas to be ‘closed military zones,’ preventing the access of journalists, it has been impossible to determine the exact scope and nature of Israeli actions.

Dozens of Israeli tanks and seven combat helicopters have intensely bombarded the densely populated Jenin refugee camp. Israeli bulldozers have totally demolished dozens of houses in the refugee camp.

According to sources of the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW), Israeli forces have launched 250 missiles and tank shells at the refugee camp, in which 13000 people live on an area of less than 1 square kilometer. According to local and medical sources, at least 200 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds have been wounded.

Some of the wounded have bled in the streets and inside houses while Israeli forces have prevented ambulances from entering the city. Some residents of the refugee camp who were able to speak to the media said there were many bodies inside houses and in the rubble of demolished buildings.

On Sunday, 7 April, Israeli occupation forces forced approximately 150 Palestinian civilians to gather in al-Dmaj quarter and executed two young men before the eyes of their families. According to sources of LAW and appeals from inside the refugee camp, food, medicines and water were running low, and some people were forced to drink sewage water. Jenin Hospital has warned of a public health disaster in the refugee camp.

In the old city of Nablus, some of whose buildings are 3000 years old, Israeli occupation forces forced Palestinians out of their houses and gathered them in a school. They arrested around 1000 Palestinians and took them to a detention camp in Hawara, south of the city. Israeli forces also broke into a mosque, which served as a field hospital, and arrested all the wounded inside.

At the time of this writing, Israeli occupation forces are intensely shelling the old city, where bodies of those killed remain unburied. Electricity, water, and communication links have been cut. Israeli forces have denied journalists access to the city in an attempt to conceal their activities. They also broke into the campus of al-Najah National University and transformed it into a military position. According to medical sources in the city, bodies of 59 Palestinians have been brought to hospitals so far.

Israeli occupation forces also invaded several villages near Ramallah, Hebron and Jenin. They seized control over these villages and killed or arrested many Palestinians. In their offensive on Tubas, Israeli forces shot six Palestinians dead from a very close distance. In Arrbeh village, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian farmer and his two wives.

In Bethlehem, Israeli occupation forces have maintained a strict siege on the Church of Nativity and three other churches. On 5 April, Israeli forces intensely shelled the Church to force 250 Palestinians seeking refuge inside, to surrender. The bell ringer of the Church was killed by Israeli gunfire.

In Ramallah, Israeli occupation forces have maintained the siege on the compound of PNA President Yasser Arafat. They lift the curfew imposed on the city every three days for few hours. This week, seven Palestinians were killed in the city and bodies of a number of Palestinians killed last week were discovered.

In attempt to mislead the international community, the Israeli government declared that it withdrew its forces from the cities of Tulkarm and Qalqilya in the northern West Bank. However, Israeli occupation forces are still imposing a very strict siege on the two cities.

In violation of international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, Israeli occupation forces attacked medical personnel, including those of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and denied them access to the wounded, especially in Jenin and Nablus. They also raided a number of hospitals.

In the aftermath of repeated Israeli attacks on its personnel and vehicles, the ICRC issued a statement on 5 April announcing that it would limit its activities in the aftermath of repeated Israeli attacks, including shootings at ICRC ambulances in Nablus by Israeli soldiers and the destruction of two vehicles by Israeli tanks in Tulkarm.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation forces shelled and invaded Palestinian residential areas. On 6 April, Israeli occupation forces subjected a neighborhood in Rafah, on the border between the Gaza strip and Egypt, to indiscriminate heavy machine gun fire. Three Palestinian civilians, including two children, were killed and a number of civilians were wounded in the attack, which occurred for no apparent reason. Israeli forces also razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land and demolished a number of houses. They raided some houses in Rafah and Beit Lahia and damaged them.

Israeli forces also indiscriminately fired at Palestinian civilians, especially at military roadblocks, wounding 22, including seven children.

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 four isolated zones. They have also maintained a strict siege on al-Mawasi area in Khan Yunis.

Israeli forces also arrested many Palestinian civilians during house raids.

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