This week, Israeli occupying forces have continued to perpetrate violations of human rights against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Human rights violations committed by Israeli occupying forces included willful killings, incursions into Palestinian areas, indiscriminate shelling and house demolitions. Israeli occupying forces have also continued construction of the “Annexation Wall” inside the West Bank and have continued to impose a tight siege on the OPTs. This week, 7 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children, were killed by Israeli occupying forces. An eighth civilian died from an injury he sustained in a previous extra-judicial assassination committed by Israeli forces.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupying forces conducted 4 military incursions into Palestinian areas. On Friday, 2 April 2004, Israeli occupying forces moved into al-Salam and al-Brazil neighborhoods in the south of Rafah. They killed a Palestinian civilian and destroyed a house. The destruction of the house tore down 37 neighboring houses. As a result, 64 families counting 433 people have become homeless. Since the beginning of 2004, Israeli forces have destroyed 199 houses in Rafah under the pretext of searching for tunnels, which in fact they have been creating a buffer zone along the Egyptian border on the expense of Palestinian houses in the area.
In an excessive use of force, on Sunday, 4 April 2004, Israeli occupying forces killed 3 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, near the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, east of al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The three apparently attempted to infiltrate into Israel to search for jobs. An Israeli military spokesman stated that the three did not have any kind of weapons and that an investigation into the incident would be initiated. On 5 April 2004, a Palestinian civilian died from an injury he sustained in an extra-judicial assassination perpetrated by Israeli forces in Gaza city last month.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces conducted a series of military incursions into Palestinian areas and fired at Palestinian demonstrations. On 2 and 3 April 2004, Israeli forces conducted a major incursion into Nablus, during which they arrested 29 Palestinian civilians, including a woman and 2 journalists. This week, Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinian children in the West Bank, and arrested dozens of Palestinian civilians.
In a blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits attacks on hospitals, in the early morning, on 1 April 20004, Israeli occupying forces raided the Mental Health Hospital in Bethlehem after having opened fire at it. Israeli forces arrested 13 Palestinians. On 2 April 2004, the Israeli police and “Border Guard” broke into the yards of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. They used excessive force against thousands of Palestinian worshippers immediately after the Friday prayer. At least 45 Palestinian civilians were hurt, either by being hit by rubber-coated metal bullets or by inhaling tear gas.
Israeli occupying forces have continued construction of the “Annexation Wall” inside the West Bank, especially in the Jerusalem district, although the Israeli High Court issued a temporary injunction stopping the construction of the wall in some villages. Israeli forces used force against Palestinian civilians who organized peaceful protests against the wall construction.
This week, Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPTs and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Jerusalem. The Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated that the closure will continue until 26 April 2004, “the independence day of Israel.” Since Monday, 22 March 2004, following the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin that day, Israeli occupying forces have imposed a total siege on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They have closed all border crossings into the Gaza Strip, and divided it into 3 isolated zones. They have also closed all entrances to Palestinian areas located near Israeli settlements and prevented Palestinian civilians from moving freely. 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.
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