18 - 24 Sep 2003
As al-Aqsa Intifada approaches its 4th year, the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) continues to deteriorate due to ongoing assaults perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians. This week, Israeli occupying forces perpetrated more violations of human rights against Palestinian civilians in the OPT, including willful killings, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, incursions into Palestinian areas, house demolitions, land leveling and arrests. They also seized more Palestinian land for the purpose of the construction of the separation wall in the West Bank and they continue to maintain a total siege on the OPT. This week, 3 Palestinians, including 2 children, were killed and 28 others, including a number of children, were wounded by Israeli occupying forces.
This morning, Thursday, 25 September 2003, Israeli occupying forces killed 2 Palestinian activists in Hebron, during exchanges of fire. The brother of one of the activists was wounded and arrested. Also, this morning, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced with heavy military vehicles and 2 helicopters, moved into al-Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. A Palestinian was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces after they raided his house and another was killed when he confronted the Israeli forces. Palestinian medical sources also declared that a 3-year-old child died from a heart attack, after heavy Israeli shelling of the area. 6 Palestinians, including a child, were wounded by the shelling (see press release for further details.)
On Monday morning, 21 September 2003, Israeli occupying forces surrounded a Palestinian home in Hebron, forcing the residents to evacuate the building. The troops then demolished the house, killing 1 Palestinian, who was wanted by Israeli occupying forces for alleged participation in attacks against Israeli targets. On the same day, medical sources at the Women’s Union Hospital in Nablus declared that 16-year-old Shadi ‘Awni Mansour succumbed to a wound he sustained by Israeli occupying forces last year in Nablus.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces conducted 13 incursions into Palestinian areas, during which they destroyed a number of Palestinian houses. This week, Israeli occupying forces completely or partially destroyed 22 Palestinian houses in Rafah and Khan Yunis. They also razed large areas of agricultural land and destroyed a number of greenhouses. On Tuesday, 23 September 2003, Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Manara neighborhood near the Egyptian border, south of Rafah. During the operation that was claimed to be aimed at uncovering tunnels in the area, Israeli occupying forces killed 1 Palestinian child, injured 8 civilians and destroyed 14 Palestinian houses. In another incident at approximately 08:00 on Tuesday, 23 September 2003, the residents of 4 houses in Khan Younis were notified by Israeli forces through megaphones that their homes were to be demolished by the evening of the same day. The homes, in which 30 people live, are located in Gizan Abu Rashwan area in the southwest of the town. PCHR submitted an appeal to the Israeli military legal advisor on behalf of the families to stop the demolition. In his response, the Israeli military legal advisor claimed that Israeli military activities in the area were aimed at exploding landmines, rather than demolishing houses and if the Israeli military was to demolish the homes, the owners would be sent official notification to allow them to appeal the order.
In the latest attack on Palestinian educational institutions, on Tuesday morning, 23 September 2003, Israeli occupying forces opened fire at 3 UNRWA schools in Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in Rafah. A teacher and a student were wounded by Israeli gunshots.
On the same day, Israeli soldiers at a military location in the vicinity of “Dogit” settlement in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at 4 PCHR staff members, including 2 internationals, who were in al-Sayafa area to investigate the living conditions of Palestinian civilians in the area. The Israeli gunfire continued for several minutes and the staff members were forced to take shelter to avoid being injured.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of incursions into Palestinian controlled areas, accompanied by indiscriminate shelling and shooting. They raided houses and arrested a number of Palestinians. On Thursday morning, 18 September 2003, Israeli occupying forces invaded the northern West Bank town of Jenin. They imposed a curfew on the town and raided houses claiming to search for allegedly wanted Palestinians. They opened fire at Palestinian civilians wounding 5, including 2 children. On Monday evening, 22 September 2003, an undercover unit of Israeli occupying forces raided a café in Nablus. They assaulted several people in the café, arresting 27; 22 of whom were later released. The 5 others remained in custody.
In violation of international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, article 33 of which prohibits punishing any protected person for “an offence he or she has not personally committed,” Israeli forces continued to take retaliatory measures against the families of Palestinians Israel alleges have ordered, facilitated, or carried out attacks against Israeli targets. In this context, they destroyed 2 Palestinian houses in Jenin and Hebron.
While the media has focused on the alleged debate between the Israeli government and the US administration on the issue of the separation wall, Israel continues to execute plans to annex yet more Palestinian land in violation of international law. Israeli occupying forces have continued to build the separation wall in the West Bank, issuing new orders concerning the confiscation of land privately owned by Palestinians. This week, Israeli occupying forces issued a military order confiscating 150 donums of land from Artah and Far’oun villages, south of Tulkarm, located east of the wall, to use as a station for Israeli trucks and vehicles that participate in the construction of the wall.
Israeli occupying forces have maintained a strict siege on the OPTs, particularly in the West Bank, restricting movement of Palestinian civilians. This week, in the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces at Abu Houli and al-Matahen checkpoints, north of Khan Yunis, on Salah al-Din Street (the main road between the north and south of the Gaza Strip) restricted movement of Palestinian civilians traveling between the north and south of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli occupying forces have also restricted movement at border crossings of the Gaza Strip. Since 14 September 2003, al-Mentar crossing has been closed; the only commercial crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Although Israeli occupying forces reopened the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, 23 September 2003, after a 2-week closure, they continue to restrict the access of Palestinian workers to their places of work in Israel. They have stipulated that only individuals over the age of 35, with a valid work permit will be permitted to cross the border. Workers from Rafah and Khan Yunis have been totally prevented from working in Israel.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces continued to tighten their military siege on Palestinian communities. Since Thursday, 18 September 2003, Israeli occupying forces have imposed a strict siege on Jenin.
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