12 - 18 June 2003
Israeli occupying forces have escalated hostile military actions against Palestinians, especially extra-judicial assassinations and 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 12-18 June 2003, 17 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 2 children and a woman, were killed by Israeli occupying forces.
In a continuation of the policy of extra-judicial assassination officially adopted by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian political and field activists of the Intifada, this week in the space of 24 hours, Israeli occupying forces carried out 3 assassinations, which left dead 11 Palestinians, including 3 who were allegedly wanted by Israeli authorities. One of the victims was killed together with his pregnant wife and child. Two of the assassinations took place on Thursday, 12 June 2003. In addition, 3 civilians, including a child, died from wounds they had sustained in previous assassination attempts. This brings the number of Palestinians killed in assassination attempts carried out by Israeli occupying forces in the past two weeks to 30, including 23 civilian bystanders. In addition, dozens of others were wounded. Despite international criticism and condemnation of Israeli war crimes, in particular extra-judicial assassinations, the Israeli government and its occupying forces escalated these crimes, claiming that they would deter Palestinian armed attacks against Israeli targets. The Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Yalon confirmed this escalation and was quoted on the Arabic website of the Israeli daily Yediot Aharanot’s, as saying that in order to bring about security, Israel has been forced to act pre-emptively and that the policy would increase political pressure on the various Palestinian factions, leading to enhanced security for Israel.
This week, Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of incursions into Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces conducted 9 incursions into Palestinian areas, during which they destroyed 29 Palestinian houses and razed more than 140 donums in Rafah. They also razed more than 50 donums of agricultural land in Beit Hanoun and Deir al-Balah. These actions have caused further deterioration in the economic situation in the Gaza Strip.
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 3 houses in the West Bank.
In 2 cases of apparent willful killing, 2 Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli occupying forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A third civilian also died from a previous wound inflicted by Israeli occupying forces a week earlier.
Israeli occupying forces continue to maintain a total siege on the OPTs. They have isolated Palestinian communities from one another and this week Israeli occupying forces restricted movement of Palestinians on Salah al-Din Street (the main road between the north and south of the Gaza Strip). They repeatedly closed Abu Houli and al-Matahen checkpoints on this road for several hours, during which they checked Palestinians and searched their vehicles. They also restricted the movement of journalists and medical personnel and closed the coastal road linking the central and northern Gaza Strip. On 16 and 17 June 2003, Israeli forces closed Rafah Terminal on the Egyptian border, prohibiting the movement of travelers and goods. In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces erected more checkpoints and roadblocks, further restricting the movement of Palestinians.
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