16 - 22 October 2003
This week, Israeli occupying forces escalated violations of human rights against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), including extra-judicial and willful killings, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, incursions into Palestinian areas, house demolitions and land leveling. They have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and 21 Palestinians, including 2 children, a woman and a doctor, were killed by Israeli occupying forces.
In a continuation of the official Israeli policy of extra-judicial assassination, Israeli occupying forces carried out 2 assassinations in the Gaza Strip on Monday, 20 October 2003, which left 11 Palestinians dead, including 9 non-targeted individuals. Among the victims were a child and an on-duty doctor and dozens of Palestinian civilians were wounded, including a number of children.
This week, Israeli occupying forces continued military operations in the al-Salam and al-Brazil neighborhoods of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Salam neighborhood on Tuesday morning, 14 October 2003 and into al-Brazil neighborhood the following day and withdrew from the areas on Monday, 20 October 2003, leaving behind wide-spread destruction. 5 Palestinians, including a woman, were killed during the incursions and 29 were wounded, including 13 children. 3 brothers were among the injured, after sustaining serious wounds while attempting to evacuate an injured person, who later died. During these operations, Israeli occupying forces razed areas of agricultural land, destroyed a foodstuff factory and completely demolished 13 Palestinian houses and 43 partially.
In a continuation of incursions into Palestinian areas in the West Bank under the pretext of searching for allegedly wanted Palestinians, on Tuesday evening, 21 October 2003, Israeli occupying forces moved into Ramallah and al-Bireh and imposed a curfew. In Ramallah, Israeli forces surrounded a mosque, at which they fired concussion grenades (sound bombs), and wounded 12 Palestinians during an operation which lasted for more than 4 hours.
On 16 October 2003, Israeli occupying forces withdrew from the Morag-Sofa road between Rafah and Khan Yunis following operations that left widespread destruction to Palestinian property. During the operation, Israeli forces razed 616 donums of Palestinian agricultural land and destroyed 136 greenhouses, 8 houses, 17 privately owned buildings and facilities and a mosque. A number of houses were also damaged. Field investigations conducted by PCHR concluded that the widespread destruction was not carried out for reasons of security, as the targeted area lies several kilometers away from the nearest Israeli military area.
This week, in another instance of excessive use of force, Israeli occupying forces shot dead 3 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. The first victim was a 14-year-old school child from Tulkarm, and the second was shot dead from close range, as he attempted to escape from Israeli forces after they moved into Qalqilya. Israeli forces have not returned the body of the second victim. The third Palestinian civilian was killed in Hebron.
Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Jerusalem. Although Israeli forces reopened military checkpoints erected along Salah al-Din Street (linking the north and south of the Gaza Strip) on the morning of Friday 17 October 2003, they have continued to harass civilians traveling on the road. They have maintained the closure of a number of branch roads in the Gaza Strip and the Erez border crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip has been closed for the 4th consecutive week, denying thousands of Palestinian workers access to their places of work in Israel. Israeli forces have also restricted travel at the Rafah terminal on the Egyptian border. In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces continue to impose a strict siege on Palestinian communities and have maintained the closure of military checkpoints and erected a number of temporary checkpoints. Israeli forces also declared a number of areas closed military zones and imposed curfews.
This week, Israeli occupying forces continued construction of the “separation wall” on West Bank territory, seizing more areas of Palestinian land. On Sunday, 19 October 2003, Israeli occupying forces razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land in al-Swahra al-Sharqia village, east of occupied Jerusalem, where they uprooted approximately 500 olive trees. Israeli occupying forces have so far expropriated most of the Palestinian land in the Jerusalem villages of Abu Dis, al-‘Eizaria and al-Swahra. Israeli occupying forces have also continued to close iron gates established along the “separation wall” in the north of the West Bank, denying Palestinian farmers access to their agricultural lands.
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