Weekly report on human rights violations

23 - 29 January, 2003

This week, Israeli occupying forces escalated their illegal military actions against Palestinian civilians and property, using various kinds of weapons. They invaded Palestinian areas and destroyed private and public property, while they have maintained full control over many Palestinian areas in the West Bank for several weeks.

Israeli occupying forces have perpetrated more illegal actions and human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, including willful killings, shelling of and incursions into Palestinian areas, house demolitions, and agricultural land leveling. This week, from 23-29 January 2003, 25 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 3 children and a woman, were killed by Israeli forces.

On Saturday, 25 January 2003, Israeli occupying forces killed 13 Palestinians, including 2 children, and destroyed nearly 20 civilian facilities in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in Gaza City, when they invaded the neighborhood, reinforced with heavy military vehicles and combat helicopters. In addition, about 40 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were injured, 6 of them remain in a serious condition. On Friday, 24 January 2003, Israeli heavy military vehicles moved into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. Israeli forces, covered by intense shelling and supported by helicopters, blocked the main road leading to the town. They also destroyed 4 bridges that linked the town with its surroundings to isolate it and restrict movement of Palestinian civilians.

Israeli combat helicopters opened fire at a number of Palestinian boys who were throwing stones at the Israeli forces. A Palestinian civilian was killed and 14 Palestinians, including 9 children were wounded. Earlier on the same day, Israeli combat helicopters launched 5 missiles, 3 of which struck a blacksmith¡Çs workshop in a densely populated area in Gaza City. The workshop was totally destroyed and a number of adjacent houses were severely damaged. A fourth missile hit a church inside al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City. The missile penetrated the roof of the church and caused severe damage. The adjacent pediatric and gynecologic clinics of the hospital were also damaged.

This week, Israeli occupying forces demolished a number of Palestinian houses and razed large area of agricultural land in the Gaza Strip. In Rafah, they demolished 25 houses totally and 6 others partially. On 28 and 29 January 2003, Israeli occupying forces razed approximately 400 donums of Palestinian agricultural land east of Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip.

In 9 cases of apparent willful killing, this week, Israeli occupying forces and settlers killed 10 Palestinians, including a child and a woman. Israeli forces also shelled Palestinian residential areas, killing a child and young man in Rafah on 26 January 2003 in two separate incidents and wounding dozens of civilians.

In violation of international law and international humanitarian law, which prohibits collective punishment, Israeli forces took retaliatory measures against families of Palestinians who have carried out attacks against Israeli targets in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and those wanted by the Israeli forces. In this context, they destroyed 2 houses in Hebron and Gaza city.

Israeli forces have maintained the total siege imposed on the OPTs, collectively punishing the Palestinian people. Israeli forces have partitioned Palestinian areas, transforming them into cantons, violating Palestinian civilians’ economic, social and cultural rights. They have also imposed curfews on several different areas. This week, Israeli occupying authorities continued to prevent Palestinians aged 16-35 from traveling abroad. The Israeli forces prevented 400 Palestinian pilgrims from traveling to Saudi Arabia through Rafah Terminal. From 26 to 29 January 2003, Israeli occupying forces imposed a strict comprehensive closure on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, prohibiting movement of about 2 million Palestinians inside the West Bank, during the Israeli elections.

To access the full report click here.