12 - 18 February 2004
This week, Israeli occupying forces continued to commit human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), which include the continued use of extra-judicial assassinations and willful killings. Throughout the week, Israeli occupying forces also conducted incursions into Palestinian areas; shot at Palestinian civilians, including 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 in addition to the continuation of the tight siege on the OPTs. This week, 4 Palestinian civilians were killed and 2 others died from previous injuries sustained by Israeli occupying forces.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces conducted 4 military incursions into Palestinian areas, during which they razed areas of Palestinian agricultural land and destroyed a number of civilian facilities. In an excessive use of force, on Thursday, 12 February 2004, Israeli occupying forces shot dead a 12-year-old Palestinian child and injured another child in Rafah, then arrested the injured child and two other children. The four children apparently attempted to cross the border towards Egypt. Israeli occupying forces also continued to shell Palestinian residential areas, and as a result, a Palestinian civilian was killed in Rafah and a number of other civilians were injured. In addition, a Palestinian civilian died from an injury sustained by Israeli forces during an incursion into Rafah last week.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of military incursions into Palestinian areas, during which a Palestinian farmer was killed by the Israeli gunfire. In addition, a Palestinian died from an injury he sustained by Israeli forces during an incursion into Jericho last week. Israeli forces also arrested dozens of Palestinian civilians during house raids in various areas in the West Bank.
In a continuation of the policy of extra-judicial assassinations officially adopted by the Israeli government in violation of international human rights law and humanitarian law, an undercover unit of Israeli occupying forces killed Samer Jasser Fawzi ‘Arar, 29, from Qarawat Bani Zaid, northwest of Ramallah, on Thursday morning, 12 February 2004. Israeli forces claimed that the victim was allegedly wanted for his activities in the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).
Israeli occupying forces have continued construction of the “Separation Wall” deep inside West Bank territory. Israeli occupying forces have continued construction of the area of the wall linking between the Jordan River in the east and Jenin in the west, which will surround the West Bank from the north.
Palestinians living in Dahiat al-Barid village and al-Ram village, north of Jerusalem, stated that Israeli engineers surveyed lands in the area to determine the track of the wall. Israeli forces also ordered owners of a number of shops, opposite to “Atarot Industrial Zone” to evacuate their shops as soon as possible, claiming that the track of the wall in the area will pass near their shops. The wall in the area is expected to extend from Dahiat al-Barid checkpoint to the south of Qalindya checkpoint in the north. The construction of the wall has continued, while the international community remains silent on this serious issue. This failure to act including the European Union official position that rejects transfer of the case of the “Separation Wall” to the International Court of Justice serves to encourage Israel to continue construction of the wall and even boycott sessions of the court that address the “Separation Wall” on the case of the wall.
Despite Israeli government talks about dismantling settlements in the Gaza Strip in the context of the “Separation Plan”, Israeli occupying forces have nonetheless continued settlement activities in the OPTs. On Monday, 16 February 2004, the Israeli parliamentary finance committee decided to transfer 55 million NIS to settlement associations to establish new housing units, 36 million NIS to a rural settlement project, and 4 million NIS to guard settlers in occupied East Jerusalem.
In violation of article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 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 that Israel alleges have ordered, facilitated, or carried out attacks against Israeli targets. In this context, they destroyed 2 houses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
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, and have continued to impose a tightened siege on the Gaza Strip by adding more restrictions on movement at border crossings and military checkpoints. They have also maintained the closure of a number of main and branch roads in the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers stationed at Israeli military checkpoints. Such restrictions on 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.
This week, a Palestinian worker died from suffocation at Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip as the crossing was overcrowded due to prolonged Israeli military checking procedures. In another incident, a Palestinian woman died at Rafah Terminal on the Egyptian border, while on her way to the Gaza Strip after having undergone surgery in Egypt. Her health condition deteriorated due to prolonged Israeli military procedures at the terminal.
Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a strict siege on Palestinian communities by imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. They have blocked a number of roads using cement blocks, sand barriers, and trenches, erected temporary checkpoints, and arrested a number of Palestinians.
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