Israeli occupying forces have escalated violations of human rights against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). This week, 19 Palestinians, 15 of whom are civilians, including 5 children, were killed by Israeli forces. Israeli occupying forces continued their full-scale offensive on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces also included willful and extra-judicial 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 continued to impose a tight siege on the OPTs.
This week, Israeli occupying forces continued their full scale offensive on the city of Rafah and Rafah refugee camp. This week, Israeli troops killed 10 Palestinians, including 6 civilians. Two of the victims were 3-year-old children; one of whom died from a heart attack due to extreme fear and the other one was killed by an Israeli sniper. Israeli forces destroyed 142 houses completely and 103 partially, 22 shops, a number of civilian facilities and the civilian infrastructure of these areas.
Israeli forces started their offensive on Rafah on 13 May 2004 and withdrew on 15 May 2004. However, they relaunched a full scale offensive on the town and refugee camp on 17 May 2004. This offensive continued for one week and left large destruction. The outcome of the Israeli military campaign against Rafah in the period of 13 – 24 May 2004 was:
The declared goal of this operation, according to the Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and the Israeli military Chief of Staff Moshe Yalon, was to destroy 600 Palestinian houses along the Egyptian border, south of Rafah. However, when the Israeli High Court issued a temporary injunction stopping this destruction, in response to a petition submitted to PCHR on 14 May 2004 (later to be rejected by the court) Yalon claimed that the goal of the operation would be to search for Palestinian activists and the destruction of tunnels. Investigations conducted by PCHR refute these claims and suggested that the real goal was retaliation against Palestinian civilians and the creation of a buffer zone along the Egyptian border according to Israeli set plans. The following data gives evidence to this:
This week, 6 other Palestinian civilians, including a child, were killed. Four of the victims died from previous injuries they had sustained by Israeli forces. In addition, Israeli forces razed at least 100 donums of Palestinian agricultural land.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupying forces launched a series of attacks against Palestinian civilians, killing 3 of them, including 2 children. The two children were killed as Israeli troops used excessive force against civilian demonstrations. On 20 May 2004, one Palestinian was killed in an extra-judicial assassination perpetrated by an undercover unit of Israeli occupying forces. A number of other civilians were also injured. Israeli troops also arrested dozens of Palestinians throughout the West Bank.
Israeli occupying forces have continued construction of the “Annexation Wall” inside the West Bank, especially around Jerusalem. They razed more areas of Palestinian land and began constructing some sections of the wall around Jerusalem. Israeli occupying authorities also issued a military order seizing 484 donums of Palestinian land in Hebron for the purpose of wall construction.
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. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces have continued to close all border crossings and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians inside the Gaza Strip, especially in the areas located near Israeli settlements and military posts. 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. Israeli forces have also continued to prohibit Palestinians who are under 45 from praying at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and have isolated the city from the rest of the West Bank.
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