6 - 19 February, 2003
In the past two weeks, Israeli occupying forces have 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. The Israeli military 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. In the past two weeks, 32 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 6 children and a woman, were killed by Israeli forces, and 6 others were killed in a mysterious explosion which the Israeli army is suspected of being involved in.
In another illegal military action, on 18 February 2003, Israeli occupying forces killed 11 Palestinians, including two brothers and their cousin whose bodies were removed from the ruins of a house. In addition, 5 civilian facilities were destroyed and raided and a school was damaged, when Israeli forces, reinforced with heavy military vehicles and helicopters and covered by intense shelling, invaded areas of Gaza City. 15 Palestinians, including a physician, were injured by Israeli shelling.
Israeli forces shelled and moved into Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip. They shelled these areas, demolished dozens of Palestinian houses and razed large areas of agricultural land. In Rafah, Israeli forces demolished 36 houses near the Egyptian border, south of the town. They also razed approximately 200 donums of Palestinian agricultural land in Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.
According to PCHR’s documentation, in January and February 2003, in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military have demolished more than 200 Palestinian houses totally or partially, destroyed approximately 125 industrial workshops and razed more than 1000 donums of agricultural land, which marks an unprecedented escalation by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians and property.
In cases of apparent willful killings, in the past two weeks, Israeli army has killed 8 Palestinians, mostly civilians. In addition, 8 Palestinians, not including the victims in al-Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza city, were killed by the Israeli shelling against Palestinian residential areas. A woman died from a heart attack in Khan Yunis when she escaped from her house that was subjected to Israeli shelling.
In a continuation of the policy of assassination officially adopted by the Israeli political and military establishments, in the period covered by this report, Israeli forces committed two extra-judicial assassinations, which left dead two Palestinians. A Palestinian from ‘Ein Beit al-Maa’p, west of Nablus, was assassinated by Israeli forces on 10 February 2002, and another Palestinian from al-Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip was assassinated by Israeli forces on 17 February 2003. In addition, 6 Palestinians were killed in a mysterious explosion Israeli occupying forces are suspected to be involved in.
In violation of international and 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 Israeli forces. In this context, they destroyed 9 Palestinian houses, including 3 in Nablus and Qalqilya in the West Bank and 4 in Beit Lahia and Rafah in the Gaza Strip. They also destroyed two houses, which were under construction, in Beit Lahia.
In violation of recognized humanitarian and moral standards, on 10 February 2003, Israeli soldiers at al-Tuffah checkpoint - the entrance of al-Mawasi area west of Khan Yunis - forced a Palestinian woman, Fatema Mohammed Ahmed al-Najjar, to drink a poisonous liquid, while she was trying to cross the checkpoint to go to her house in al-Mawasi area in Rafah. As a result, she suffered from pains and infections in the throat and lungs.
Israeli occupying forces have maintained a total siege on the OPT. They have isolated Palestinian communities from one another. They have partitioned the Gaza Strip into three separated zones and restricted the movement of people and goods. They have also maintained curfews on some areas in the West Bank. The Israeli decision to prevent Palestinians aged 16-35 from traveling has remained in effect.
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