Weekly report on human rights violations

07 – 13 August 2003

Israeli occupying forces continue to conduct illegal actions and human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including collective punishment measures and shelling of and incursions into Palestinian areas.  This week, Israeli occupying forces sustained the siege imposed on the OPTs, raided Palestinian houses and arrested more Palestinians.  Israeli forces also continued to establish the “security fence” in the West Bank.  Thus far, Israeli forces have confiscated large areas of Palestinian agricultural land, and have isolated 14 Palestinian villages in Tulkram and Jenin from their Palestinian surroundings in order to construct  the “fence”    This week, 7-13 August 2003, 4 Palestinians were killed and 10 others, including a number of children, were wounded by Israeli occupying forces. 

On Friday morning, 8 August 2003, in the most violent Israeli military operation since the beginning of a cease-fire against Israeli targets declared by Palestinian resistance organizations on 30 June 2003, Israeli occupying forces killed 4 Palestinians (two activists of the Hamas movement and two civilians) in the ‘Askar refugee camp, east of Nablus, and destroyed a 4-storey apartment building while one of the activists was still inside.  In addition, 6 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were wounded.

In a similar operation, this morning, Thursday, 14 August 2003, Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Sha’aba neighborhood in the northeast of Hebron, and began to shell the area.  During this incursion, Israeli occupying forces killed Mohammed Ayoub Seder, 25, an activist of the Islamic Jihad movement.  A number of shops and stores were also destroyed.  It is worth noting that Seder had survived an assassination attempt two years ago, in which two Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces.  Shortly after the assassination attempt Israeli occupying forces destroyed Seder’s house. 

This week, Israeli occupying forces continued to shell Palestinian residential areas in the Gaza Strip, especially in Khan Yunis.  While no casualties were reported, a number of houses were damaged, endangering the lives and causing fear among Palestinian civilians in the area.  Israeli occupying forces conducted 5 incursions into Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip, during which they razed areas of Palestinian agricultural land and raided Palestinian houses.  While searching the homes Israeli forces used Palestinian civilians as  human shields.  In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces have arrested more than 100 Palestinians during house raids since 7 August 2003.

As part of the continued denial of Palestinian children’s right of education, on Sunday, 10 August 2003, Israeli occupying forces issued a decision maintaining closure of Hebron University and Polytechnic Palestine University in Hebron for another month, starting on Monday, 11 August 2003.  Israeli occupying forces have closed the two universities since 11 January 2003.

Israeli occupying forces have maintained a strict siege on most of the OPT, especially in the West Bank.   While Israeli forces have partially withdrawn from the main roads in the Gaza Strip, they have continued to use checkpoints in order to restrict movement on these roads and at border crossings.  They often obstruct movement of people at al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints on Salah al-Din Street, north of Khan Yunis.  Israeli forces moved the military observation tower at al-Matahen junction approximately 20m to the west, and the observation tower at Abu Houli checkpoint approximately 20m to the northeast.  At al-Shuhada (Netzarim) junction, south of Gaza city, Israeli occupying forces established two iron gates, approximately 200m away from the junction.  They moved an Israeli military location in the area to the east of the junction. 

Israeli forces have also maintained the strict siege imposed on the  al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip, where more than 8,000 Palestinians live, as well as the al-Sayafa area in the northern Gaza Strip.  In the al-Sayafa area, Israeli occupying forces have begun to issue magnetic cards for residents of the area, to be used to move into and outside the area.

Israeli occupying forces have restricted the access of Palestinian fishermen to the sea and Palestinian workers continue to face humiliating measures at “Erez” (Beit Hanoun) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip on the way to their work in Israel.  Israeli occupying forces have continued to restrict the passage of goods through commercial crossings of the Gaza Strip.  Rafah terminal, on the border with Egypt, has recently witnessed a growing humanitarian crisis.

In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces have maintained a strict siege on Palestinian communities, isolating them from one another. They have continued to restrict movement of Palestinians at military checkpoints, despite Israeli claims that a number of military checkpoints were dismantled.  Palestinians under 35 are not allowed to cross Israeli military checkpoints without obtaining permits issued by the so-called “Israeli Civil Administration”.  For the 4th consecutive day, Israeli occupying forces have imposed a strict curfew on the center and south of Hebron.  They have beaten a number of Palestinian civilians, claiming that they violated the curfew.   

While the Israeli government, to create an illusion of Israel’s dedication to the current peace process, released a small amount of Palestinian prisoners whose sentences had almost expired, Israeli Prison Authoritys escalated repressive practices and arbitrary measures against the remaining 6,000 or more Palestinian prisoners, including 82 women and 406 children, still detained under inhuman conditions in Israeli jails. 

In another arbitrary action, on 12 August 2003, Israeli occupying forces expelled  a resident of Jaffa in Israel, Ahmed Mahmoud Ta’na, 21, from Tulkarm,  to the Gaza Strip.  Ta’ana, who is deaf and dumb was arrested in Jaffa, where he works as a street-hawker.  He was beaten by Israeli soldiers and was forced to pay a fine.   Israeli occupying forces then transferred him to the Gaza Strip and handed him to the Palestinian side on 13 August 2003. 

In violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits collective punishment, Israeli forces took retaliatory measures against the families of Palestinians whom Israel alleges have ordered, facilitated, or carried out attacks against Israeli targets.  In this context, they destroyed a Palestinian house in ‘Askar refugee camp, east of Nablus, on 13 August 2003.

To download the full report click here.