Weekly report on human rights violations

Israeli forces demolished a number of homes in Ramallah (Photo: PCHR, 2003)

20 November - 3 December 2003

During the period covered in this report, particularly in the past 10 days, violations of the human rights of Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) carried out by Israeli occupying forces have escalated, including incursions into Palestinian areas, shooting at Palestinian civilians, especially children, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, house demolition and leveling of agricultural land. Israeli occupying forces have also continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPTs.

During the last two weeks, 12 Palestinians, including 4 children, were killed and a number of others were injured by Israeli occupying forces. As demonstrated by the ongoing investigations carried out by PCHR, Israeli occupying forces continue to carry out a systematic policy of extrajudicial killing. During the period under consideration this policy was demonstrated by the unlawful killing of 3 Palestinians during an Israeli military incursion into Ramallah.

In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of incursions into Palestinian controlled areas including Jenin, Tulkarm, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah, al-Bireh, and Hebron. The largest incursion during this period was into Ramallah and al-Bireh on Monday, 1 December 2003, which left dead 4 Palestinians, 3 of whom were killed when Israeli occupying forces demolished a building while they were inside.

In total, 8 Palestinians, including 4 children, were killed by Israeli occupying forces during these incursions. Israeli occupying forces carried out operations in these areas using tanks, armored personnel carriers, military jeeps, helicopters, and civilian cars used by undercover units to infiltrate into Palestinian communities. Also during these incursions, dozens of Palestinians were arrested and a number of houses were destroyed as a form of collective punishment against families of alleged Palestinian activists.

Israeli occupying forces have continued construction of the “separation wall” inside the West Bank. This week, Israeli occupying forces razed approximately 500 donums[1] of Palestinian agricultural land in the Tulkarem district for the construction of the “separation wall.” Occupying forces also confiscated 22 donums of land in Zeita village. According to the planned tract of the wall, Zeita village will be isolated from the rest of the West Bank by the wall, while the neighboring Nazlat ‘Eissa and Nazlat Abu Nar villages will be trapped between the wall and an Israeli military fence.

In the Gaza Strip, 4 Palestinian civilians, including 3 members of a single family, targeted while they were on their way to visit relatives during the Eid, were killed by Israeli occupying forces. Israeli occupying forces have acknowledged that the three relatives were killed by mistake. The fourth victim was killed by Israeli soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli occupying forces also indiscriminately shelled Palestinian residential areas, especially in the southern Gaza Strip. As a result, more than 10 Palestinian civilians, including several children, were injured.

Israeli occupying forces conducted 7 incursions into Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip. They razed 63 donums of Palestinian agricultural land in Khan Yunis and the central Gaza Strip, and destroyed 4 houses in Rafah.

In violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, Israeli forces took retaliatory measures against the families of Palestinians Israel alleges have ordered, facilitated, or carried out attacks against Israeli targets. In this context, Israeli occupying forces destroyed 8 Palestinian houses in Ramallah, Hebron and Jenin.

In a punitive measure against Palestinian detainees, on Sunday, 23 November 2003, Israeli occupying forces transferred 3 Palestinian detainees from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. They left the three at three different locations in the Gaza Strip. On Thursday, 20 November 2003, the Israeli High Court held a session to consider appeals submitted by the three detainees concerning the transfer orders issued by the head of the Israeli military central command to transfer 18 Palestinian detained by Israeli occupying forces from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. Israeli occupying forces implemented the original transfer orders against the three detainees before the Israeli High Court had issued a ruling in their cases. The number of Palestinian detainees transferred by Israeli occupying forces from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip in November 2003 increased to 5. These measures constitute unlawful transfers within the meaning of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The unlawful transfer of a protected person also constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law, as detailed in article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a war crime, as further clarified in article 85 of the First Additional Protocol. PCHR is gravely concerned about the role played by the Israeli judicial system in providing legal approval for those Israeli military practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that contradict international humanitarian law.

Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Jerusalem.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a strict siege on Palestinian communities and restrict movement of Palestinian civilians. They have also continued to impose a closure on a number of main and branch roads in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian civilians also continue to be subject to humiliating and degrading treatment at Israeli military checkpoints and border crossings. The restrictions on movement and the fragmentation of the OPTs, through the use of checkpoints and barriers, carried out by Israeli forces systematically violate Palestinian economic, social and cultural rights. Recently, Israeli occupying forces have imposed more restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians between the north and south of the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, despite claims by Israel that they eased the siege imposed on Palestinian communities in the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces have continued to restrict movement of Palestinian civilians.

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