11 - 17 December 2003
This week, Israeli occupying forces continued to violate the human rights of Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Throughout the week, they conducted incursions into Palestinian areas; shot at Palestinian civilians, including children; indiscriminately shelled residential areas; demolished houses; and leveled agricultural land. They have continued with the construction of the “separation wall” inside the West Bank. Israeli occupying forces have also continued to impose a tight siege on the OPTs. This week, 10 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including a woman, were killed and a number of others were wounded by Israeli occupying forces.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces conducted 6 military incursions into Palestinian areas, during which they killed a number of Palestinians and destroyed civilian property. During an incursion into al-Salam neighborhood in Rafah on Thursday, 11 December 2003, Israeli occupying forces killed 5 Palestinians, including 4 civilians, injured 12 and destroyed 9 houses. On Monday, 15 December 2003, Israeli occupying forces moved into Khan Yunis refugee camp. They destroyed 22 houses, rendering approximately 200 Palestinian civilians homeless. On Wednesday, 17 December 2003, Israeli heavy military vehicles moved into Rafah refugee camp and opened fire in the area, killing a 16-year-old Palestinian child.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of incursions into Palestinian communities, such as Nablus, Qalqilya, Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. On Sunday, 14 December 2003, Israeli occupying forces made an incursion into Kufor Ne’ma village, west of Ramallah, killing 1 Palestinian. On Tuesday, 16 December 2003, Israeli occupying forces moved into Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus, during which time a number of Palestinian children were injured by Israeli gunfire. 1 of the children was later pronounced clinically dead. During the incursions, Israeli occupying forces used heavy military vehicles, undercover units and helicopters and arrested a number of Palestinians, who are allegedly wanted by Israeli occupation authorities.
On Saturday, 13 December 2003, Israeli soldiers at a military checkpoint near Nablus shot a Palestinian university student who was on her way to Ramallah. Israeli occupying forces claimed that the car, in which the victim was traveling, refused to stop at the checkpoint, but eyewitnesses refuted this claim.
On Sunday, 14 December 2003, in an excessive use of force, Israeli occupying forces killed 2 Palestinians near the northeastern border of the Gaza Strip. The victims were apparently attempting to infiltrate into Israel to find jobs and did not have any weapons with them.
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 took retaliatory measures against the families of Palestinians Israel alleges have ordered, facilitated, or carried out attacks against Israeli targets. In this context, they destroyed a house in Hebron.
Israeli occupying forces continued construction of the “separation wall” inside West Bank territory, in violation of international human rights law and humanitarian law. They have also continued to close iron gates established along the wall, denying Palestinian civilians access to communities and agricultural areas located beyond the wall. According to a recent report published by the Directorate of Agriculture in the Jenin district, for the purpose of the construction of the wall Israeli occupying forces razed 314,765 donums of agricultural land in the district, isolated 7580 donums, uprooted 16415 trees that were planted on 1965 donums, and isolated 6161 donums planted with 44702 olive and almond trees. According to the same report, Israeli occupying forces also destroyed 5 animal farms that stood on 1.14 donums of land.
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 the movement of Palestinian civilians. They have also maintained the closure of a number of main and branch roads in the Gaza Strip. Such restrictions on freedom of movement are in contravention of international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
This week, Israeli occupying forces imposed tighter restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians between the north and south of the Gaza Strip. Israeli occupying forces positioned at the Abu Houli and al-Matahen checkpoints on Salah al-Din Street, the main road between the north and south of the Gaza Strip, continued to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. Israeli soldiers routinely humiliate and harass Palestinian civilians at the checkpoints, which are only open for a few hours each day.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a strict siege on Palestinian communities and restrict the movement of Palestinian civilians. They have continued to close permanent military checkpoints and erected temporary ones on the main and branch roads. On more than one occasion, Israeli soldiers at military checkpoints fired at Palestinian civilians. For instance, on Saturday, 13 December 2003, they shot dead a Palestinian university student (see above). A number of Palestinians, who are allegedly wanted by Israeli occupation authorities, were arrested by Israeli soldiers at military checkpoints.
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