Weekly report on human rights violations

1 - 7 May 2003

Israeli occupying forces have continued to conduct illegal actions and human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, including collective punishment, shelling of and incursions into Palestinian areas and agricultural land leveling.  This week, 1-7 May 2003, 19 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 5 children, an old man and a handicapped male, were killed by Israeli occupying forces.

In another military attack on Palestinian civilian areas, Israeli occupying forces killed 13 Palestinians, including a toddler, three children, a handicapped man and three brothers, in Gaza City.  At least 40 others were wounded when Israeli occupying forces invaded Gaza City’s al-Shojaeya neighborhood, supported by helicopter gunships.  Israeli forces destroyed a house while two brothers remained inside and an old man died from a heart attack when his family was unable to evacuate him to hospital.  Israeli forces claimed that the operation was aimed at arrested a wanted Palestinian. This operation reflects a systematic policy adopted by the Israeli government and its occupying forces aimed at killing innocent civilians and destroying civilian property.  In two similar operations in March, Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinian civilians in Jabalya and al-Boreij refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and destroyed dozens of houses and civilian facilities. 

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.  This week, Israeli occupying forces demolished 18 Palestinian houses in Rafah, leaving more than 100 Palestinian civilians homeless.  This brings the total number of houses destroyed by Israeli forces in Rafah since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada to more than 600- the highest number throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  This total does not include the thousands of houses that have been damaged. 

On Friday, 2 May 2003, Israeli occupying forces shot dead a 34-year-old British journalist, while he was filming a documentary with 5 other journalists, on the lives of Palestinian children in Rafah, near the border with Egypt. It is reported that Israeli forces even hesitated in offering him medical aid when he was injured.  James Miller and his colleagues had been in the Gaza Strip for several weeks, filming a documentary for HBO on the lives of Palestinian children in Rafah. This brings the total number of journalists killed by Israeli occupying forces since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000 to 7 -  5 Palestinians and 2 foreigners.

This week, Israeli forces razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land in Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis. 

As a result of the indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian residential areas by Israeli occupying forces, 5 Palestinians, including a child and an infant, were killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One of the victims was killed when an Israeli military vehicle hit his car and then obstructed his evacuation to hospital.  A sixth Palestinian civilian died from a previous injury he sustained during an Israeli incursion into Jabalya refugee camp on 11 March 2003. 

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 5 houses in the West Bank towns of Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus.

Israeli occupying forces continue to maintain their total siege of the OPT and 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 have prevented Palestinians aged 16-35 from traveling abroad.  On 6 May 2003, Israeli occupying forces closed Rafah terminal at the border with Egypt for no apparent reason.  They also maintained the closure of Beit Hanoun crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, denying Palestinian workers access to their places of work in Israel.  Also this week, Israeli forces blocked cars between al-Matahen and Abu Houli military checkpoints, north of Khan Yunis, checking Palestinian civilians traveling between the south and north of the Gaza Strip, which resulted in a number of arrests. 

To access the full report click here.