This week, Israeli occupying forces continued to violate the human rights of Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Throughout the week, Israeli occupying forces conducted incursions into Palestinian areas; shot at Palestinian civilians, which included children; indiscriminately shelled residential areas and demolished houses; and leveled agricultural land. Israeli occupying forces have also continued construction of the “separation wall” inside the West Bank while imposing a tight siege on the OPTs.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces conducted 15 military incursions into Palestinian areas, which include 10 into Rafah. During the incursion into Rafah, Israeli occupying forces killed 1 Palestinian woman, destroyed 51 Palestinian houses and razed 9 donums of agricultural land. The civilian infrastructure of the affected areas was severely damaged. These Israeli military operations left behind around 800 Palestinians homeless. As a result of the indiscriminate Israeli shelling that accompanied these incursions, a Palestinian woman was killed and 6 other civilians were injured. These house demolitions in Rafah are aimed at facilitating the creation of a buffer zone along the border with Egypt. Israeli forces have also continued to construct a fortified iron wall along the border. Israeli occupying forces demolished 9 houses in Deir al-Balah and Khan Yunis.
Despite the fact that the International Court of Justice is preparing to consider the case of the “separation wall” in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution adopted on 8 December 2003, Israeli occupying forces have continued with the construction. PCHR’s field workers reported that construction is continuing in numerous areas from the Jordan Valley in the north, to Hebron in the south. Israeli occupying forces also continued to raze and confiscate areas of Palestinian land, particularly in Jerusalem, Salfit, Ramallah, Hebron and the northern Jordan Valley. It is worth noting that Israeli occupying forces have recently distributed maps, indicating that thousands of donums of Palestinian agricultural land surrounding Salfit will be confiscated. The construction of the wall in Salfit district will effectively cut off more than 52% of the total area of Salfit, including a number of wells.
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. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a strict siege on Palestinian communities and restrict movement of Palestinian civilians. Israeli troops have also maintained the closure of a number of main and branch roads in the Gaza Strip by stationing Israeli soldiers at Israeli military checkpoints. Such restrictions on the freedom of movement are in contravention of international human rights law to which Israel is a state party, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a strict siege on Palestinian villages, towns and cities. For the third consecutive week, they have continued to impose a tightened siege on Nablus and neighboring refugee camps and villages, denying movement of Palestinian civilians, including medical personnel and patients. Israeli occupying forces have continued to further impede the movement of Palestinian civilians, by erecting more military checkpoints and deploying infantry units on dirt roads, which Palestinian civilians often use when the main roads are closed. Israeli occupying forces also imposed curfews on some Palestinian communities. This week, Israeli troops positioned at military checkpoints arrested a number of Palestinians, claiming that they are wanted by Israeli occupying authorities.
Israeli occupying forces conducted several incursions into Palestinian areas, particularly in Nablus, Ramallah, Tulkarm, Hebron and Jenin. A number of Palestinian civilians were injured and dozens of others were arrested.
On Monday, 19 January, 2004, Israeli occupying forces issued written orders to 10 Palestinian families in Deir el-Balah ordering the confiscation of their land and homes located northeast of “Kfar Darom” settlement. According to the owners of these properties, Israeli soldiers informed them orally when they were handed the orders that the land will be used to establish additional Israeli security facilities. The total area subject to these confiscation orders is approximately 700 donums. The orders permit 7 days for appeal. PCHR is preparing to submit an appeal against these orders to the Israeli military legal advisor.
In the Gaza Strip, following the bombing carried out by a Palestinian woman at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing on 14 January 2004, Israeli occupying forces have tightened the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and imposed further restrictions at border crossings and military checkpoints. 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 stationed at these checkpoints regularly harass and humiliate Palestinians trying to pass. Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a tightened siege on al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip. On Thursday, 15 January 2004, one day after the bombing carried out by a Palestinian woman against Israeli soldiers at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, Israeli occupying forces prevented Palestinian women from crossing the checkpoints at the entrances to al-Mawasi area in Khan Yunis and Rafah. In an escalation of attacks against Palestinian workers, 25 Palestinians were injured on Tuesday morning, 20 January 2004, at Beit Hanoaun (Erez) crossing in northern Gaza when Israeli troops opened fire with live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at thousands of Palestinian workers waiting at the crossing.
In violation of international human rights law and humanitarian law, on 20 January 2004, Israeli occupying forces transferred Anwar ‘Abdul Latif Abu Zahu, 30, from Jenin, to the Gaza Strip. Abu Zahu had been detained by Israeli occupying forces since 11 April 2002. It is worth noting that Israeli occupying forces transferred 18 Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip in November and December 2003. These unlawful transfers constitute a war crime under article 85 of Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
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