Weekly report on human rights violations

22 - 28 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, house demolitions and agricultural land leveling. This week, 22-28 May 2003, 5 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and a handicapped man, were killed by Israeli occupying forces.

Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of incursions into Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip, during which they demolished a number of Palestinian houses and razed large areas of agricultural land. For the second consecutive week, Israeli forces have been positioned at the entrances of the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, imposing a strict siege on the area. They razed more areas of Palestinian agricultural land and destroyed a number of industrial facilities. Local residents have also had great difficulties moving in and out of the town and Israeli forces seized 4 Palestinian houses, using them as military sites. Israeli forces invaded Beit Hanoun on 15 May 2003 and the subsequent 5-day military operation left dead 7 Palestinians, including 3 children, dozens injured, a number of houses destroyed and large areas of agricultural land razed.

This week, Israeli occupying forces razed 341 donums of Palestinian agricultural land in the southeast of Gaza City and in the villages of Khuza’a and ‘Abasan, east of Khan Yunis. They also demolished 4 Palestinian houses and razed 34 donums of agricultural land in Rafah and Deir al-Balah.

This week, in a number of cases of apparent willful killing, Israeli occupying forces killed 5 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The victims included 3 children and a mentally handicapped man.

In violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, the head of the Israeli military central command ordered the expulsion of 5 Palestinians from Nablus and Hebron to the Gaza Strip. The individuals in question have already been placed under administrative detention. Israeli occupation authorities began to apply the policy of deportation on 10 May 2002, when they deported 13 Palestinians abroad and 26 others to the Gaza Strip, to end the siege on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. In September 2002, Israeli occupying forces expelled Intissar and Kifah ‘Ajouri from ‘Askar refugee camp in Nablus to the Gaza Strip, and last week, Mahmoud Suleiman al-Sa’di was expelled from Jenin refugee camp to the Gaza Strip.

This most recent decision to expel 5 Palestinians violates international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949: article 33 provides that “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed;” article 49 prohibits “individual or mass forcible transfers;” and article 147 considers “unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person” as a grave breach.

In another 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 7 houses in the West Bank.

Israeli occupying forces have maintained a total siege on the OPT. They have isolated Palestinian communities from one another and have partitioned the Gaza Strip into three separate zones, restricting the movement of people and goods. They have also maintained curfews on some areas in the West Bank. Israeli occupying authorities have prevented Palestinians aged 16-35 from traveling abroad. Israeli occupying forces have recently imposed severe restrictions on internationals leaving and entering the Gaza Strip and have also restricted their movement within Gaza.

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