8 - 14 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, 8-14 May 2003, 15 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including a woman and two children, were killed by Israeli occupying forces.
In a serious escalation in military activity, on Tuesday, 13 May 2003, Israeli occupying forces invaded Khan Yunis refugee camp reinforced with more than 100 heavy military vehicles and supported by Apache gunships. The 4-hour military operation left 26 Palestinian houses totally destroyed and more than 30 others damaged, which made 36 Palestinian families (247 persons) homeless. The operation was accompanied by intense shelling of Palestinian residential areas, terrifying innocent Palestinian civilians, especially children, women and old and handicapped people, who escaped from their homes in search of refuge. Approximately 20 Palestinians, including 6 children, were also wounded. A store of foodstuffs was also destroyed by an Israeli shell.
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 10 Palestinian houses in the central Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah, and 9 others in Rafah. They also razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun and the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis.
In a continuation of the policy of extra-judicial assassination officially adopted by the Israeli political and military establishments against Palestinian political and field activists of the Intifada, on Thursday, 8 May 2003, Israeli occupying forces assassinated an activist of Hamas in Gaza city. Another Palestinian from Tulkarm died from an injury he had previously sustained during an assassination attempt carried out by Israeli occupying forces.
In various cases of apparent willful killing, this week, Israeli occupying forces shot dead 5 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Two of the victims bled to death. A child and woman also died from previous injuries inflicted by Israeli occupying forces. Six other Palestinians were killed while confronting Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas.
Israeli occupying forces have imposed severe restrictions on internationals entering the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This week, Israeli forces arrested two members of the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour. They have also imposed restrictions on entry of international into the Gaza Strip. Internationals have been required to submit to a number of measures before being allowed into Gaza, including signing a declaration exempting Israel from responsibility for death, injury or any damage that they may incur while in the Gaza Strip. Israeli authorities have restricted access to tourists, journalists, humanitarian and human rights workers and medical personnel, making some individuals wait up to 9 hours for access from the Gaza Strip into Israel and similar periods when traveling into Gaza as well. The policy’s objective is to prevent internationals from witnessing the daily crimes that are perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip. It is worth noting that Israeli forces killed an American solidarity activist and a British journalist in Rafah (see PCHR’s press releases of 17 March and 3 May 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 2 houses in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun and the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya.
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 and have also maintained curfews on some areas in the West Bank. Israeli occupying authorities have prevented Palestinians aged 16-35 from traveling abroad.
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