This week, Israeli occupying forces escalated their aggression against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces 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, 7 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were killed and more than 40 others were injured by Israeli occupying forces.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of aerial attacks against Palestinian residential areas and civilians facilities, and destroyed dozens of houses. On Wednesday, 17 March 2004, Israeli helicopter gunships launched missiles at Rafah refugee camp, killing 4 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, and injuring a number of others. Israeli occupying forces also destroyed 49 houses in the camp, rendering more than 80 families homeless. On 15 March 2004, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian civilian in Rafah, after they had surrounded the family’s house to arrest his brother.
In a continuation of the policy of extra-judicial assassinations officially adopted by the Israeli government, on Tuesday, 16 March 2004, Israeli occupying forces carried out an assassination attempt targeting a member of the Islamic Jihad, who survived the attempt. However, 2 other Palestinians were killed. An Israeli helicopter gunship attacked the targeted person’s house in al-Nasser neighborhood in Gaza city.
On the same day, Israeli occupying forces destroyed a branch campus of al-Aqsa University in Gaza. On 15 March 2004, Israeli occupying forces Israeli helicopter gunships destroyed 3 workshops in densely populated areas in Gaza city.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of military incursions into Palestinian areas. A number of Palestinian civilians were injured. Israeli forces also arrested 63 Palestinians.
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, and destroyed 4 houses in the West Bank.
Israeli occupying forces have continued construction of the “Separation Wall” inside the West Bank. They confiscated more areas of Palestinian land and demolished more homes for this purpose. Although the Israeli High Court issued a temporary injunction stopping the construction of the wall in certain villages, Israeli occupying forces accelerated the construction of the wall in other areas, including a part of the wall extending from “Alkana” settlement, southeast of Qalilqya, to “Ofar” detention center, southwest of Ramallah, an area north of Jerusalem and southeast of Qalqilya.
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 imposed more restrictions on movement at border crossings and military checkpoints following a bombing in an Israeli town on 14 March 2004. They also maintained the closure of a number of main and branch roads in the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers stationed at Israeli military checkpoints. In addition, they imposed further restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians living in areas adjacent to settlements and military locations. 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 also continued to impose a strict siege on Palestinian communities and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. They have also 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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