Weekly report on human rights violations

12-18 September 2002

In an interview with the Israeli daily, Yediot Aharonot, on Sunday 15 September 2002, the Israeli Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya’alon, confessed that his soldiers committed acts of stealing, extortion and damage against Palestinian property during their operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). He said, ‘in fact, I discovered that, during the Defensive Wall Operation, there were unjustified acts of stealing, extortion and damage in the daily military work. Junior officers are young people who lack sufficient culture, so they commit acts of tyranny that contradict orders and values of the IDF.’ Ya’alon used this statement in an attempt to show that the acts against Palestinian property contradict the ‘orders and values of the Israeli army’. However, this does not correspond with the facts on the ground. Instead it confirms what human rights organizations have published regarding such violations during the past two years.

Israeli occupying forces have perpetrated more human rights violations against Palestinian civilians and their property in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). They have been using all kinds of weapons and adopting a policy of collective punishment against all Palestinians. This week, Israeli occupying forces carried out a series of limited incursions into Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip, while continuing to invade Palestinian areas in the West Bank. The human rights violations against Palestinian civilians have included willful killings, shelling of, and incursion into Palestinian areas, house demolition, and agricultural land leveling. This week, three Palestinians were killed and dozens were wounded by Israeli occupying forces.

For the second consecutive week, Israeli occupying forces have carried out a series of incursions into Palestinian towns and refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, during which they destroyed houses and civilian facilities and arrested dozens of Palestinians. The largest incursion took place on Tuesday 17 September, when Israeli occupying forces, supported by combat helicopters, invaded al-Satar al-Sharqi and al-Satar al-Gharbi - areas in Khan Yunis. They raided houses and destroyed one of them. They also destroyed two workshops, damaging a number of neighboring houses and civilian facilities. They arrested dozens of Palestinian civilians, more than 10 of who remain in custody.

On Friday 13 September, Israeli occupying forces, supported by combat helicopters, invaded al-Salam and al-Brazil neighborhoods in the south of Rafah. A Palestinian policeman was killed, six civilians were wounded, three workshops were totally destroyed and 17 houses were partially destroyed.

On Thursday 12 September, as part of their retaliatory campaign against families of Palestinians who have carried out attacks against Israeli targets, Israeli occupying forces destroyed a house owned by the family of a Palestinian who carried out an attack on an Israeli settlement in the southern Gaza Strip in November 2001. Ten neighboring houses were severely damaged. Such actions took place with support from the Israeli judiciary.

In this context, the Israeli High Court rejected a petition submitted by the families of Nabil Halbia and Ussama Bahar, from Abu Dis, who carried out a bombing in Jerusalem in December 2001. The petition challenged the military order to demolish their houses. By rejecting it the Israeli High Court appeared to be legalizing the demolition of the houses. By accepting retaliatory acts and collective punishment, prohibited under international humanitarian law, the Israeli judiciary appears to be protecting war crimes committed by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians.

Hundreds of Palestinian students were in great danger when a bomb, apparently planted by extremist settlers, exploded in an elementary school in Zeif village, south of Hebron. Two other bombs were discovered and were inactivated by Israeli occupying forces. As a result of the explosion, nine students were wounded, while hundreds of students were in shock. Approximately 400 students were having classes at school when the explosion occurred.

Israeli occupying forces have maintained the total siege imposed on the OPT, collectively punishing Palestinian people. Israeli forces have partitioned Palestinian areas, transforming them into cantons, violating Palestinian civilians’ economic, social and cultural rights.

Thousands of Palestinians continue to be subjected to a tight military curfew imposed by Israeli occupying forces, especially in Nablus. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces have checked Palestinian civilians and their cars at Abu Houli and al-Matahen military checkpoints, north of Khan Yunis. In a new step to tighten the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, on Monday, 16 September, Israeli occupying forces informed the Palestinian side that Palestinians are to be prevented from using the road parallel to Salah al-Din Street, east of Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, at night. This road is the only one used by Palestinian farmers to reach their agricultural land in the area.

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