19 - 25 September, 2002
This report coincides with the second anniversary of the beginning of the al-Aqda Intifada, which broke out on 28 September 2000 after the visit by the current Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to the Holy Sanctuary in occupied East Jerusalem, a visit which provoked feelings of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims throughout the world.
During this period, Israeli occupying forces committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians in an unprecedented manner since 1967. The second year of the Intifada witnessed a significant escalation of war crimes committed by Israeli occupying forces, while the international community has kept silent, which has encouraged Israel and its occupying forces to escalate its human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Throughout the past 12 months, Israeli occupying forces launched a full-scale offensive throughout the OPT, using all kinds of weapons, including fighter jets, combat helicopters, tanks, and infantry and special units. Israeli war crimes in the second year of the Intifada included:
In this last week of the second year of the Intifada, 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, 20 Palestinians, 19 civilians and a security man, including 6 children, a handicapped man and a journalist, were killed and dozens were wounded by Israeli occupying forces.
For the third 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 killed a number of Palestinians. On 19 and 23 September 2002, Israeli occupying forces committed grave breaches (war crimes), when they invaded al-Tuffah, al-Zaytoun and al-Shojaeya neighborhoods in Gaza City. They shelled these areas using combat helicopters and tanks. They raided houses and transformed a number of them into military bases. They destroyed a number of workshops and took retaliatory measures against families of Palestinians who carried out military attacks against Israeli forces and settlers in the Gaza Strip.
As a result of this invasion, 11 Palestinians, including a child and a handicapped man, were killed and dozens were wounded, and a number of workshops were destroyed. A number of houses were also damaged.
In Ramallah, on Thursday, 19 September 2002, Israeli occupying forces launched a military campaign against the Palestinian presidential compound. Israeli heavy military vehicles, supported by combat helicopters, moved towards the compound. They imposed a strict siege on the compound and opened fire at its building and guards. They destroyed a number of buildings surrounding the office of President Arafat. A Palestinian security man was killed by the Israeli gunfire.
On Sunday morning, 22 September, Israeli occupying soldiers on tanks that were patrolling in the streets of Palestinian towns, over which they had already seized complete control, opened fire at Palestinian civilians who marched in the streets expressing solidarity with the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat who had been under Israeli military siege in his compound in Ramallah since Thursday, 19 September 2002. Four Palestinian civilians, including a journalist, were killed by the Israeli gunfire.
This week, Israeli occupying forces continued to shell Palestinian residential areas, especially in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Two Palestinian civilians were killed by the Israeli shelling and more than 10 were wounded, while a number of houses were severely damaged. Also in the Gaza Strip, dozens of Palestinian civilians were wounded when Israeli occupying forces fired at peaceful demonstrations that were organized in solidarity with President Arafat.
For the second consecutive month, Israeli occupying forces have continued their campaigns of retaliation against families of wanted Palestinians and those who carried out military attacks against Israeli targets. This week, Israeli forces destroyed and demolished seven houses of those families in the West Bank.
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 closed Abu Houli and al-Matahen military checkpoints since 19 September, preventing the passage of thousands of students and employees to Gaza City. They also checked and interrogated Palestinians who were waiting at those checkpoints. On Monday morning, 23 September, a newly born infant died in Hebron, as Israeli occupying soldiers at military checkpoints obstructed her evacuation to hospital for long hours.
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