Weekly report on human rights violations

9 - 15 October 2003

This week, Israeli occupying forces have escalated violations of human rights against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTa), including extra-judicial and willful killings, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, incursions into Palestinian areas, house demolitions, land leveling, unlawful transfers, and arbitrary arrests and detentions.  They have also imposed a comprehensive siege on the OPT.  This week, 10 Palestinians, including 3 children, were killed by Israeli occupying forces.

 On Friday morning, 10 October 2003, Israeli occupying forces conducted a large scale incursion into the Rafah refugee camp, adjacent to the Egyptian border in the southern Gaza Strip. Under cover of intense shelling and gunfire from tanks and helicopters, Israeli forces invaded the area which is one of the most densely populated in the Gaza Strip.  During this incursion, which lasted for two days, 8 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 3 children, were killed and 56 others were wounded, including 20 seriously. Israeli occupying forces destroyed 170 Palestinian houses, a number of civilian facilities and civilian infrastructure in the area.  More than 2000 Palestinians, mostly children and women, have been rendered homeless.  This number is added to hundreds of families whose homes were destroyed in the same area by Israeli occupying forces in previous incursions. 

 Two days after they had withdrawn from Rafah refugee camp, Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Brazil and al-Salam neighborhoods in Rafah, adjacent to the Egyptian border.  At time of writing, one Palestinian has been killed and 10 others, including 6 children, have been wounded by Israeli shelling.  Israeli forces also arrested 3 Palestinians, demolished a number of houses and razed areas of agricultural land.  They have also damaged the infrastructure in the two neighborhoods.

 In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces moved into Qalqilya and Tulkarm.  They also moved into Nablus and arrested a number of Palestinians.  Israeli forces have continued to impose a curfew on Jenin and its refugee camp for the 11th consecutive day (see PCHR’s press release issued on 11 October 2003), on Qalqilya for the 5th consecutive day, on parts of Hebron for the 4th consecutive day and on Tulkarm and its refugee camp for the 2nd day. 

 On 15 October 2003, in an apparent willful killing, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian civilian in Tulkarm.  They claimed that he did not obey orders to stop.  Israeli soldiers did not offer him any medical assistance and delayed access for an ambulance for about an hour, during which time he died. 

Further confirming Israel as “a state above law,” the United States used its veto on Wednesday, 15 October 2003, to oppose a UN Security Council resolution that calls upon Israel to stop construction of the “separation wall.”  The United States was the only state that rejected the resolution.  Four other states; Bulgaria, Cameron, Germany and the United Kingdom; abstained.  The resolution stated that the construction of a fence inside the OPTs is illegal and violates international law.  The resolution further called for the immediate cessation of construction.  The resolution further stated that “the UN Security Council rejects the settlement activities in the OPTs and any confiscation of land that may affect sources of income.”  PCHR is concerned that this the US veto serves to encourage Israel to perpetrate further violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes, in the OPTs. 

 In addition to restrictions imposed by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians as a result of the construction of the “separation wall” in the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces have maintained a total siege on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem.  Israeli occupying forces imposed a total internal and external closure on the Gaza Strip from early morning on Sunday, 5 October 2003.  All main internal roads were closed, segregating the Gaza Strip into 4 isolated zones.  In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces have declared some areas closed military zones. 

 This week, there were a series of attacks on medical personnel and facilities by the Israeli occupying forces and restrictions on movement of ambulances.

 In violation of the prohibition on collective punishment, Israeli forces continued to take retaliatory measures against the families of Palestinians they allege were involved in attacks against Israeli targets.  In this context, they destroyed a Palestinian house in Nablus.

 On Tuesday, 14 October 2003, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, GOC of the Central Command of the Israeli Occupying Forces, issued a military order transferring 15 Palestinians, who were being held in administrative detention, from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.  On Wednesday morning, 14 October 2003, Israeli Occupying Forces transported a further three Palestinian detainees to the Erez military compound under a similar procedure.  All 18 are currently detained in Erez pending an appeal against the transfer order.

To download the full report click here.