Despite the Palestinian commitment to cease hostilities, which was further emphasized by Palestinian resistance groups in Cairo last week, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have disregarded understandings concluded with the Palestinian side and launched more attacks against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
This week, human rights violations perpetrated by IOF included shooting at Palestinian civilians, incursions into Palestinian areas, house raids and arbitrary arrests. In violation of international law and humanitarian law, IOF have also continued to construct the annexation wall inside the West Bank territory and confiscated more areas of Palestinian land for this purpose. They have continued to expand existing settlements at the expense of Palestinian land, in an attempt to create irreversible facts on the ground that will complicate negotiations on the final status of the OPT. Contrary to Israeli official claims, IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians.
This week, IOF conducted a series of incursions into Palestinian areas in the West Bank, during which they opened fire at residential areas and raided and searched houses. Seven Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were wounded, and 16 others were arrested by IOF. A house was also burnt and a foreign journalist was injured in Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah.
In the Gaza Strip, IOF conducted 3 military incursions into Khan Yunis, Gaza City and Wadi al-Salqa village. They arrested 3 Palestinian children who apparently attempted to infiltrate into Israel to search for jobs. On 18 March 2005, IOF moved into the Israeli- controlled al-Mawasi area in Khan Yunis and arrested a Palestinian civilian.
IOF have continued to construct the annexation wall inside the West Bank territory. IOF resumed land leveling in the vicinity of Bilal Ben Rabah Mosque at the northern entrance to Bethlehem, for the purpose of the construction of a section of the wall, which will close the main entrance to the town and separate it from Jerusalem.
According to local sources, the construction of this section of the wall will isolate the northern part of the town and will restrict the movement of its residents. They also started to raze more areas of Palestinian agricultural land in Sourif village, northwest of Hebron, for the purpose of the construction of a section of the wall. On 22 March 2005, IOF moved into Dahiat al-Barid area, north of East Jerusalem, and resumed placing signs that determine the route of the wall.
Israeli settlers living in the OPT in violation of international humanitarian law have launched a series of attacks against Palestinian civilians and property. IOF have continued to confiscate areas of Palestinian land for settlement activities.
This week, Israeli sources revealed that the Israeli government approved two plans to build 3500 housing units between East Jerusalem and “Ma’ale Adomim” settlement to the east. These plans will practically expand the aforementioned settlement towards East Jerusalem and will prevent geographical contiguity of the future Palestinian state. On 17 and 18 March 2005, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian civilians and injured 4 of them, including 3 workers.
Contrary to Israeli claims, IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT, including Jerusalem. Since Wednesday morning, 23 March 2005, IOF have imposed a comprehensive closure on the OPT for the Jewish Purim. This closure will continue until Monday morning, 28 March 2005.
In the Gaza Strip, IOF have continued to completely or partially close all border crossings of the Gaza Strip, and impose severe restrictions on the internal movement of Palestinian civilians. They have also continued to close a number of roads and crossings in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the current Intifada. IOF have continued to impose a strict siege on Palestinian communities near Israeli settlements, causing more suffering to Palestinian civilians.
On 19 March 2005, IOF informed 16 Palestinian families living near “Kissufim” settler road, northeast of Khan Yunis, that they would establish an electronic gate in the area to control the movement of these families. Since the beginning of this month, IOF has used a special checking machine, which causes health problems, particularly for pregnant women. Although the Palestinian side rejected the use of this machine, IOF have continued to use it. On 22 March 2005, the Palestinian Ministry of Health issued a statement warning of health impacts of this checking set.
In the West Bank, IOF have continued to impose a strict siege on Palestinian communities. They have also imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. This week, they erected a number of sudden military checkpoints. They stopped and checked Palestinian civilians and arrested 3 of them. Two Palestinian civilians, including a woman, were also injured by IOF positioned at military checkpoints.
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