Weekly report on human rights violations

Demolished home in Gaza (Photo: PCHR, 2003)

This week, Israeli occupying forces have perpetrated more violations of human rights against Palestinian civilians in the (OPTs), including extra-judicial and willful killings, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, incursions into Palestinian areas, house demolitions, land leveling and arrests. Israeli authorities also seized more Palestinian land for the purpose of the construction of the separation wall while maintaining a total siege on the OPTs. This week, 9 Palestinians, including a child, were killed and more than 30 others were wounded by Israeli occupying forces.

In a continuation of the policy of extra-judicial assassinations officially adopted by the Israeli political and security establishments, Israeli occupying forces carried out two assassinations in the West Bank this week. Four Palestinians were killed in these operations, including one non-targeted person.

On Thursday morning, 25 September 2003, Israeli occupying forces extra-judicially assassinated two Palestinians in the West Bank town of Hebron. They also wounded the brother of one of the victims as he was arrested. Israeli occupying forces claimed that they exchanged fire with the two victims, however, eyewitnesses denied this claim.

On Wednesday afternoon, 1 October 2003, an undercover unit of Israeli occupying forces assassinated a Palestinian in Tulkarm refugee camp, claiming that he was wanted for being a member of the Islamic Jihad Movement. In addition, 5 Palestinian civilians were wounded, one of whom died at hospital one hour later.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces conducted 5 incursions into Palestinian areas, destroying a number of Palestinian houses. The largest incursion was in Rafah refugee camp near the Egyptian border on 1 October 2003. During this incursion, Israeli occupying forces destroyed 13 Palestinian houses completely and 5 others partially. About 270 Palestinian civilians were left homeless. On Thursday morning, 25 September 2003, Israeli occupying forces encroached into al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The incursion left 3 Palestinians dead, including a 3-year-old child who died from a heart attack. 6 other civilians were wounded, including a 13-year-old child.

This week, Israeli occupying forces shelled Palestinian residential areas in Rafah and Khan Yunis, injuring 11 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children.

Israel continues to implement plans to annex even more Palestinian land in violation of international law. In one example, Israeli occupying forces continue construction of the separation wall in the West Bank. According to Israeli media reports, on Monday, 29 September 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon informed the Likud Party block in the Knesset that the tract of the separation wall currently being planned will be built east of “Ariel” settlement (south of Nablus) and east of “Qidumim” settlement (southwest of Nablus). This tract of the separation barrier encroaches approximately 30km into Palestinian territory in the West Bank. The result is inevitable Israeli annexation of large areas of Palestinian land in Tulkarm and Qalqilya Districts as these areas are cut off from the rest of the West Bank. In the meantime, the UN Special Rapporteur, John Dougard, issued his report on the human rights situation in the OPTs. The report states that Israel is determined to create a situation on the ground that can result in the de facto annexation of Palestinian land, and that the separation wall will isolate about 210,000 Palestinians living in areas between the wall and the Green Line from their lands, schools, work places and hospitals.

Israeli archaeologists warned of the damage to historical sites incurred by land leveling for the purpose of the construction of the wall. According of inhabitants of al-Sawahra village, southeast of Jerusalem, on Friday, 26 September 2003, they saw staff members of the Israeli archaeologist authority removing a number of ancient monuments from the area. While PCHR remains concerned for the consequences of the construction of the wall, it calls upon the international community, particularly the UNESCO to immediately intervene to protect Palestinian historical sites from destruction and robbing by Israeli occupying forces.

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.

Israeli occupying forces have maintained a strict siege on the OPTs, particularly in the West Bank, restricting movement of Palestinian civilians. In the Gaza Strip, this week, 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. They also obstructed travel procedures at Rafah Terminal on the Egyptian border.

In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces continued to tighten their military siege on Palestinian communities. They have denied Palestinian farmers attempting to access their agricultural lands in order to cultivate their olives and other crops. Also this week, a Palestinian woman died from a heart attack as ambulances were not able to attend her on time.

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