Weekly report on human rights violations

10- 16 April  2003

Israeli occupying forces have continued to perpetrate more illegal actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  These actions are in compliance with measures adopted by the Israeli political, military and judicial establishments. 

On 13 April 2003, the Israeli High Court concluded a session without a final judgment on a petition submitted by PCHR in Gaza and Physicians for Human Rights - Israel to prohibit the use of flechette anti-personnel tank shells by the Israeli military in the OPT.  Judges indicated that they would avoid issuing a decision on types of weaponry used by the Israeli military. 

In the past two weeks, Israeli occupying forces continued the policy of extra-judicial assassinations.  They also conducted a series of incursions into Palestinian areas, during which they shelled residential areas, killed some Palestinians and arrested others, and destroyed public and private property.  This week, 10-16 April 2003, 10 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed and dozens of others were wounded by Israeli occupying forces.

In a continuation of the policy of extra-judicial assassination officially adopted by the Israeli government against political and field activists of the Intifada, and with disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, on 10 April 2003 Israeli occupying forces conducted two extra-judicial assassinations. 

In Tulkarm, Israeli occupying forces attempted to assassinate three Palestinian activists, but the attempt killed only a passing Palestinian civilian.  In Gaza city, Israeli helicopters assassinated Mahmoud Saqer Ragheb al-Zatma, 47, who was allegedly wanted by Israeli occupying forces as a prominent leader of the military wing of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.  In addition, two Palestinians died from previous injuries they sustained on 8 April 2003, when Israeli occupying forces assassinated two Hamas activists in an attack that left dead five other civilians.  The number of victims of that attack increased to nine.  Some of the injured in that attack remain in a critical condition.

As a result of the Israeli indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian residential areas, 5 Palestinians, including 3 civilians, were killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  A Palestinian from Jabalya refugee camp died from an injury he sustained during an Israeli incursion into al-Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza city on 19 February 2003. 

In another apparent targeted attack on activists of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Israeli occupying forces at the Egyptian border, south of Rafah, fired at ISM activist, Thomas Peter Hurndall, 22, a British citizen, who was trying to protect a Palestinian child from Israeli shelling.  The activist was seriously wounded by a live bullet in the head.  He was declared clinically dead. This was the second time activists of ISM having been attacked by Israeli occupying forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the past two weeks. 

On 16 March 2003, Israeli occupying forces killed Rachel Corrie, an American activist of ISM, when she tried to prevent Israeli military bulldozers from demolishing houses in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. 

In violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits collective punishment, Israeli forces took retaliatory measures against families of Palestinians who are alleged to have carried out attacks against Israeli targets in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and those wanted by Israeli forces.  In this context, they destroyed 3 Palestinian houses in Ramallah and Hebron in the West Bank.

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 separate zones and have restricted the movement of people and goods.  They have also maintained curfews on some areas in the West Bank.  Israeli occupying authorities prevented Palestinians aged 16-35 from traveling abroad. 

On Wednesday, 16 April 2003, Israeli occupying forces imposed a total closure on Palestinian areas.  They prevented Palestinian boats from sailing and denied access of Palestinian workers to their work places in “Erez” industrial zone and “Sofa” area in the Gaza Strip.  Since Tuesday, 15 April 2003, Israeli occupying forces have erected checkpoints and roadblocks in occupied Jerusalem and intensified checking at the entrances of the city.

To access the full report click here.