17- 23 April 2003
Israeli occupying forces have continued to conduct illegal actions and human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, including collective punishment, willful killings, shelling of and incursions into Palestinian areas and agricultural land leveling. This week, 17-23 April 2003, 9 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were killed, and dozens were wounded by Israeli occupying forces.
Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of incursions into Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, during which they attacked Palestinian civilians and property. On 19 April 2003, during a wide-scale incursion into Rafah refugee camp, Israeli occupying forces killed 5 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, and wounded 30 others. The condition of 10 of the wounded is said to be critical and the number of wounded included 7 children. During this full-scale incursion into Rafah, Israeli occupying forces dynamited a house owned by a Palestinian family – a member of which is allegedly wanted for suspected activities against Israel. 4 other houses were completely destroyed by bulldozers and some 20 other houses were damaged. The electricity and telephone supplies were also damaged.
This week also witnessed an escalation of Israeli military attacks against the press, characterized by not only the excessive and indiscriminate use of force against journalists, but also the specific targeting of media personnel and institutions in an attempt to silence the press and prevent public reporting of Israeli military actions. On Saturday, 19 April 2003, Israeli occupying shot dead Nazeeh ‘Aadel Darwaza, 42, from Nablus, a cameraman for Palestine Television and Associated Press, when they deliberately fired at a group of Palestinian journalists who were reporting on clashes that erupted between Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers in the center of Nablus. The journalists were clearly marked and were carrying their cameras. This brings the total number of journalists killed by Israeli occupying forces whilst carrying out their work since the beginning of the current Intifada to 6: 5 Palestinians and 1 Italian national. A further 94 journalists have been injured by the Israeli occupying forces.
In violation of articles 16 and 18 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, on Wednesday morning, 23 April 2003, Israeli occupying forces raided Dr. Suleiman Khalil and al-Shifa’ hospitals in Jenin and arrested 2 Palestinians who were receiving medical treatment for previously sustained injuries.
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 threatened 7 Palestinian families from Tulkarm, informing them that their houses would be demolished if their sons, who are allegedly wanted for activities against Israeli forces, did not surrender. They also destroyed a house in Rafah refugee camp when they invaded the camp at the beginning of this week. 10 neighboring houses were severely damaged as a result of this destruction.
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. Since Saturday, 15 March 2003, Israeli occupying authorities prevented Palestinians aged 16-35 from traveling abroad. Israeli occupying forces imposed further restrictions on the entry of Palestinian workers into Erez industrial zone in the northern Gaza Strip, stipulating that workers must be at least 28 years old, married and have children. These restrictions have deprived more than 50% of the workers their source of income and the border crossings have remained closed for over a week. Also this week, Israeli forces fired at Palestinian civilians moving through Israeli military checkpoints and on 22 April 2003, Israeli forces arrested a number of Palestinians near al-Matahen military checkpoint, north of Khan Yunis.
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