Weekly report on human rights violations

20 - 26 February 2003

Israeli occupying forces have continued their illegal military actions against Palestinian civilians and their property, using various kinds of weapons.

They have 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.

This week, 20 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 8 children, were killed by Israeli forces.

On Sunday morning, 23 February 2003, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced with military bulldozers and helicopters and covered by intense shelling, invaded the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. As a result of this Israeli military operation which continued until Monday morning, 24 February 2003, 7 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 3 children, were killed.

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 22 houses near the Egyptian border, south of the town. Also this week, Israeli forces indiscriminately shelled Palestinian residential areas in Khan Yunis.

In three cases of apparent willful killing, Israeli forces have shot dead 3 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In addition, two Palestinian children were killed and more than 10 other civilians were wounded by the Israeli shelling against Palestinian residential areas in Rafah and Khan Yunis.

In violation of 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 Israeli forces. In this context, they destroyed 6 Palestinian houses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including 5 houses in Beit Hanoun.

The 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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