26 February - 3 March 2004
This week, Israeli occupying forces continued to violate the human rights of Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Human rights violations included the 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 and have continued to impose a tight siege on the OPTs. This week, 14 Palestinian civilians were killed and more than 20 others injured by Israeli occupying forces.
In a continuation of the policy of extra-judicial assassinations officially adopted by the Israeli government, Israeli occupying forces carried out 3 assassinations this week in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These assassinations left dead 7 Palestinians and injured 13 others. PCHR asserts that the policy of extra-judicial assassinations officially adopted by the Israeli government serves to increase tension in the region and threatens the lives of Palestinian civilians.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of military incursions into Palestinian areas. These incursions left dead 8 Palestinian civilians. Israeli forces also arrested dozens of allegedly wanted Palestinians. On Friday, 27 February 2004, Israeli occupying forces attacked Palestinians while praying in al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In violation of article 33 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, 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 2 houses in the West Bank.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces conducted 2 military incursions into Beit Hanoun. On Friday, 27 February 2004, they moved into the town and destroyed 84 Palestinian shops.
From the beginning of the current Intifada until the end of 2003, Israeli occupying forces destroyed 333 Palestinian economic facilities in the Gaza Strip. On 3 March 2004, Israeli forces moved into the town again. They raided and searched a number of Palestinian houses.
Israeli occupying forces have continued construction of the “Separation Wall” inside the West Bank. In an attempt to evade a ruling by the Israeli High Court that ordered temporarily stopping construction of a part of the wall near Beit Sourik village, southwest of Ramallah, Israeli occupying forces began constructing another part of the wall north of Bethlehem. The court’s ruling has been the first since the construction of the wall started. The Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz criticized any legal decision that may interrupt the construction of the wall, and ordered intensifying works of construction.
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 tightened siege, and imposed 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.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a strict siege on Palestinian communities. They have also imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. They have blocked a number of roads using cement blocks, sand barriers, and trenches. They have also erected temporary checkpoints and arrested a number of Palestinians.
In violation of international humanitarian law, this week, Israeli occupying forces transferred two Palestinian detainees from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. On 26 February 2004, they transferred Ra’ed ‘Abdul Muhsen Zaghloul Hassan, 38, from Dura al-Qare’ village in Ramallah to the Gaza Strip for a period of 5 years. On 3 March 2004, Israeli forces transferred Mohammed Ahmed Taqatqa, 52, from Bethlehem to the Gaza Strip for an unspecified period. In the past two years, Israeli occupying forces transferred dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.
The following is a summary of gross Israeli violations of international law perpetrated against Palestinian civilians in February 2004:
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