Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)
Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law continued in the OPT during the reporting period (10 - 16 May 2007):
Shooting: During the reporting period, IOF killed six Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and a baby in his mother’s womb in the West Bank. They also wounded 36 Palestinians and a French solidarity activist.
In the Gaza Strip, on 15 May 2007, IOF positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel shot dead an officer of the Palestinian National Security Forces who got close the border when he fled from armed clashes between Fatah and Hamas movements the were taking place at al-Mentar (Karni) crossing. On 16 May 2007, three members of the Executive Force of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior were killed and 27 persons, including two journalists and civilian bystander were wounded when IOF warplanes attacked a site of the Executive Force in Rafah. On the same day, two members of Hamas were killed and three others were wounded by an IOF aerial attack in the northern Gaza Strip. On 10 May 2007, IOF positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Khan Yunis, opened fire at Palestinian agricultural land in Khuza’a village. Large areas of agricultural land were burnt.
On Thursday morning, 10 May 2007, IOF killed a baby in the womb of his woman who was also seriously wounded. This attack took place when IOF moved into ‘Ein Beit al-Maa’ refugee camp, west of Nablus. IOF soldiers took position atop of a building overlooking ‘Ein Beit al-Maa’ refugee camp. They opened fire at Palestinian houses in the camp. As a result, a woman who was pregnant in the 7th month was wounded by a gunshot the back, which killed her baby in the womb. The gunshot hit the baby in the head.
On 11 May 2007, IOF used force against a peaceful demonstration organized by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli solidarity activists against the construction of the Annexation Wall in Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah. As a result, three demonstrators, including a child and a Swiss solidarity activist, were wounded.
On 13 May 2007, a Palestinian taxi driver was wounded by a gunshot to the buttock when a guard of an Israeli settlement near Salfit fired at him from a zero range.
Incursions: During the reporting period, IOF conducted at least 26 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those incursions, IOF arrested 41 Palestinian civilians, including seven children. Thus, the number of Palestinians arrested by IOF in the West Bank since the beginning of this year has mounted to 1,164. IOF also demolished a house belonging to the family of an allegedly wanted Palestinian in Bethlehem. In the Gaza Strip, IOF moved into al-Shouka village, northeast of Rafah, and arrested two Palestinian brothers.
Restrictions on Movement: IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
IOF have imposed a strict siege on the Gaza Strip. They have imposed severe restrictions at its border crossings as a form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians.
IOF have closed Rafah International Crossing Point since 25 June 2006, even though they do not directly control it. During the reporting period, the crossing point was reopened only for three separate days. IOF have partially reopened commercial crossings, especially al-Mentar (Karni) crossing, but many goods and medical supplies have been lacked in markets in the Gaza Strip. IOF have also continued to close Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have been prevented from traveling through this crossing. IOF have allowed international workers to pass through the crossing. With this closure, only few Palestinian patients have been able to travel to hospitals in Israel and the West Bank. In addition, IOF have continued to prevent Palestinian fishermen from fishing for approximately a year.
IOF have tightened the siege imposed on Palestinian communities in the West Bank. They have isolated Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. IOF positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. IOF also erected more checkpoints on the main roads and intersections in the West Bank. During the reporting period, IOF soldiers positioned at various checkpoints and border crossings in the West Bank arrested at least five Palestinian civilians, including a woman.
Settlement Activities: IOF have continued settlement activities and Israeli settlers living in the OPT in violation of international humanitarian law have continued to attack On 10 May 2007, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli Committee for Planning and Construction approved a plan to construct three settlement neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, which includes the construction of 20,000 housing units, in addition to 500 others in Abu Dis village, southeast of the city. The plan aims at creating territorial continuity between Jerusalem and “Gush Etzion” settlement bloc, south of Bethlehem, and between Jerusalem and “Beit Eil” settlement, north of Ramallah. In the same context, on 13 May 2007, the Israeli government decided to allocate approximately US$ 1.5 billion to develop settlement neighborhoods in Jerusalem out of a concern of the increase of the Arab population in the city. Also on 10 May 2007, IOF handed notices to Palestinian civilians in Salama and Fqaiqees villages to the east and south of “Noghohot” settlement, west of Hebron, to stop building 10 houses and a mosque. On 11 May 2007, Israeli settlers living in “Sousia” settlement, south of Hebron, resumed their attacks on Palestinian farmers on agricultural land located near the settlement.
Israeli Violations Documented during the Reporting Period (10 - 16 May 2007)
1. Incursions into Palestinian Areas and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
Thursday, 10 May 2007
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 00:20, IOF moved into Nablus and the neighboring refugee camps. A number of IOF soldiers took position atop of a nine story apartment building overlooking ‘Ein Beit al-Maa’ refugee camp, west of the city. At approximately 02:15, those soldiers opened fire at Palestinian houses in the camp. As a result, Maha Ibrahim Qatouni, 30, who was pregnant in the seventh month, was wounded by a gunshot the back, which killed her baby in her womb. The gunshot hit the baby in the head. She was evacuated to the hospital, where she underwent surgery to save her life. The woman was in her bedroom, when she was wounded. In addition, Mohammed Saleh Abu Hamdan, 17, was wounded by a gunshot to the left thigh and shrapnel to the left foot.
In his testimony to PCHR, the woman’s husband, 27-year-old Mohammed Ahmed Qatoiuni, stated:
“At approximately 02:15 on Thursday, 10 May 2007, IOF soldiers positioned atop of al-Sousa apartment building that overlooks ‘Ein Beit al-Maa’ refugee camp opened fire at houses in the camp. Gunshot penetrated the windows of the third floor of my house. My wife, who is pregnant in the seventh month got up to bring our three children who were crying in the adjacent room. As soon as she stood up, more gunshots penetrated the windows of our bedroom and she was wounded by one gunshot to the back. I rushed towards her and was able to hold her before falling onto the ground. I asked the neighbors to call for an ambulance, and one of my neighbors, who is a paramedic offered my wife first medical aid. Nearly 45 minutes later, an ambulance was able to attend us, and it evacuated my wife to the hospital, where we learnt that the baby in her womb was killed.”
IOF also raided and searched a number of houses in Nablus and arrested 2 Palestinian children:
1. Mohye al-Din al-Shahrouri, 14 and
2. Ahmed Hasan al-Tik, 17.
1. ‘Essam Waleed Saba’na, 23;
2. Ahmed Nasri Abu al-Rub, 19;
3. Ameen Taher Zakarna, 22; and
4. ‘Alaa’ ‘Essam Abu al-Rub, 20.
1. Nihad Mihawesh ‘Amru, 24; and
2. Yousef ‘Abdul Latif ‘Amru, 20.
1. Diaa’ Ghazi Qa’qour, 23;
2. ‘Alaa’ al-Din Ghazi Qa’qour, 21; and
3. Nadi Na’im Tannina, 26.
Friday, 11 May 2007
Saturday, 12 May 2007
1. Samer Wajeeh Abu Khalil, 28; and
2. Tha’er Ghassan Tahlawi, 18.
Sunday, 13 May 2007
Monday, 14 May 2007
1. Jihad Hamza Abu al-Rub, 19;
2. ‘Abdul Rahman Hamza Abu al-Rub, 22;
3. Hasan Abu al-Rub, 45; and
4. ‘Abdul Rahman Hasan Abu al-Rub, 19.
Later, IOF released the man and his son.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
1. Mohammed Yahia Ja’arim, 15;
2. ‘Alaa’ Taleb Maskawi, 16;
3. Saleh Darwish Hashash, 29;
4. Mohammed Shaker ‘Aassi, 16 (was released later);
5. Mohammed Tayseer ‘Aassi, 16; and
6. Hussin Mahmoud al-Nadi, 15.
1. Mohammed ‘Abdul Fattah Abu ‘Eisha, 45; and
2. Riad ‘Adnan Abu ‘Eisha, 20.
1. Najeh Khalil Abu Fakher, 32, hit by shrapnel throughout the body;
2. Lutfi Lutfi al-Barahma, 28, hit by shrapnel throughout the body; and
3. Hammad Hasan Mebrad, 23, hit by shrapnel throughout the body.
In addition, 21 members of the Executive Force were wounded (PCHR has a list of their names). Three civilian bystanders, including two journalists, and three members of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service, whose headquarter is located near the site, were also wounded:
1. Fadi ‘Omar al-Nahhal, 25, correspondent of the local Shabab Radio, wounded by shrapnel to the leg;
2. Sameer Mohammed al-Bouji, 22, a journalist, wounded by shrapnel to the back;
3. Hussein Jaber al-Nairab, 22, a civilian bystander, wounded by shrapnel to the left leg;
4. Rami Haidar al-Bouji, 21, wounded by shrapnel to the right shoulder;
5. Jamal Mohammed al-Shawi, 25, wounded by shrapnel to the chest;
6. Hasan Nabil Abu ‘Armana, 24, wounded by shrapnel to the right knee.
1. Rami Subhi Zaqzouq, 30, from Jabalya refugee camp;
2. Mohammed Fawzan Abu Jasser, 25.
The other three members were wounded:
1. Wissam ‘Essam Salem, 20, from Jabalya, wounded by shrapnel throughout the body;
2. Wassim Tariq Abu ‘Awad, 23, from Jabalya, wounded by shrapnel throughout the body; and
3. Baha’ al-Din Fat’hi al-Kahlout, 24, from Jabalya, wounded by shrapnel to the legs.
2. Continued Siege on the OPT
IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Occupied East Jerusalem.
IOF have continued to close all border crossings of the Gaza Strip for nearly one year. The total siege imposed by IOF on the Gaza Strip has left disastrous impacts on the humanitarian situation and has violated the economic and social rights of the Palestinian civilian population, particularly the rights to appropriate living conditions, health and education. It has also paralyzed most economic sectors. Furthermore, severe restrictions have been imposed on the movement of the Palestinian civilian population. As a consequence of the total siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, at least 73 percent of the families in the Gaza Strip live below the poverty line, and unemployment has been estimated at 55 percent. In addition, the living conditions in the Gaza Strip have further deteriorated with the non-payment of salaries for the public sector for nearly a year as international donors have frozen aids provided to Palestinians, and Israeli authorities have suspended the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian National Authority since March 2006. Moreover, the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip has severely impacted the flow of food, medical supplies and other necessities such as fuel, construction materials and raw materials for various economic sectors.
The closure of border crossings deprives the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip of their right to freedom of movement, education and health. IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on fishing in the Gaza Strip. Following the attack on IOF on 25 June 2006, IOF prevented fishing. Approximately 35,000 people in and around Gaza’s coastal communities rely on the fishing industry, including 2,500 fishermen, 2,500 support staff and their families. Fishermen have been subjected to intensive monitoring by IOF, which use helicopter gunships and gunboats to monitor the fishermen. The Oslo Accords allow Palestinian fishermen to go fishing up to 20 nautical miles away from the Gaza seashore.
The West Bank
IOF have imposed a tightened siege on the West Bank. They have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians and imposed curfews on a number of Palestinian communities.
Nablus: IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. On Thursday noon, 10 May 2007, IOF closed al-Bathan checkpoint, northeast of Nablus. The closure continued until the evening. IOF also closed Beit Eiba checkpoint, west of the city, for two hours, claiming that they discovered explosives devices carried by a young man who attempted to cross the checkpoint. On Wednesday morning, 16 May 2007, IOF erected a checkpoint at Yits’har intersection, south of Nablus. They stopped and searched Palestinian civilian vehicles.
Tulkarm: IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. They have continued to prevent Palestinians aged under 35 from passing through checkpoints around the town. On Thursday morning, 10 May 2007, IOF closed Wad al-Teen checkpoint, south of Tulkarm, until 10:00. IOF also erected a checkpoint at Bala’a intersection on Tulkarm - Nablus road. They stopped and searched Palestinian civilian vehicles. On Friday, 11 May 2007, IOF erected a checkpoint at Baqa intersection, north of Tulkarm. They stopped and searched Palestinian civilian vehicles. IOF also erected a checkpoint at Far’oun intersection, south of Tulkarm. They stopped and searched Palestinian civilian vehicles. On Saturday, 12 May 2007, IOF soldiers positioned at Ennab checkpoint, east of Tulkarm, imposed additional restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. On Sunday, 13 May 2007, IOF erected a checkpoint at the entrance to al-Ras village, south of Tulkarm. They stopped and searched Palestinian civilian vehicles.
Jenin: IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. IOF soldiers positioned at Tayaseer checkpoint at the entrance of the northern Jordan Valley, and al-Hamra checkpoint at the entrance of the central Jordan Valley, have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. They have prevented non-residents of the two areas from entering them. On Saturday, 12 May 2007, IOF imposed additional restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians through various checkpoints around Jenin. They also erected additional checkpoints around the town to further restrict the movement of Palestinian civilians.
On Tuesday morning, IOF soldiers positioned at a checkpoint established at the entrance of Kufor Ra’ei village, southwest of Jenin, arrested ‘Essam Khaled Melhem, 21.
Hebron: IOF have continued to imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians inside and around the town. IOF soldiers positioned at various checkpoints and iron gates inside and around the town have continued to stop, check and restrict the movement of Palestinian civilians. On Wednesday morning, 16 May 2007, IOF closed the northern entrances of Hebron, and prohibited the prohibited the movement of Palestinian civilians to and from the town for nearly 6 hours, allegedly to allow a convoy of Israeli settlers to travel from “Kiryat Arba” settlement, south of the town, to Jerusalem.
On Wednesday morning, 16 May 2007, dozens of Palestinian civilians from the villages of Raboud, Karza and Abu al-‘Asja and several international and Israeli solidarity activists demonstrated on the main road that links those villages with al-Zahiriya and al-Sammou’ villages, southwest of Hebron. As the soon as the demonstrators make a hole in the rock and sand barrier blocking the road established by IOF since 2000, IOF soldiers attacked the demonstrators and violently beat a number of them. Hmaid Hasan al-Nammoura, 22, and Nidal Mahmoud al-Fasfous, 18, sustained bruises. IOF soldiers also arrested four Israeli solidarity activists.
Ramallah: On Thursday, 10 May 2007, IOF soldiers positioned at the entrance of “Oufar” prison, west of Ramallah, arrested Sameera Ahmed al-Fawaghra, 25, from Jourat al-Sham’a village south of Bethlehem, when she was on her way to visit her brother who is detained in the prison.
At approximately 09:00 on Sunday, 13 May 2007, IOF soldiers positioned at Jaba’ checkpoint, south of Ramallah, arrested ‘Eid Mustafa Tazaz’a, 25, from Qabatya village southeast of Jenin.
Jericho: On Saturday, 12 May 2007, IOF soldiers positioned at checkpoint established at the southern entrance of Jericho arrested Maher ‘Aziz ‘Amru, 26, from Dura village southwest of Hebron.
Al-Karama International Crossing Point: On Sunday evening, 13 May 2007, IOF soldiers positioned at al-Karama International Crossing Point arrested Mo’tassem Ayoub Jaber, 22, from Beit Jala town near Bethlehem, when he was on his way back to the West Bank.
3. Construction of the Annexation Wall
IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall inside West Bank territory. During the reporting period, IOF used force against a peaceful demonstration organized by Palestinian civilian in protest to the construction of the Wall in Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah.
1. Adeeb Ahmed Abu Rahma, 35, wounded by two rubber-coated metal bullets to the thigh;
2. Mohammed Ahmed Yassin, 17, wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the shoulder; and
3. Asaf Parliv, 60, a Swiss solidarity activist, hit by a tear gas canister to the leg.
IOF also arrested 10 demonstrators, including four Israeli solidarity activists, but released them three hours later.
4. Settlement Activities and Attacks by Settlers against Palestinian Civilians and Property
Israeli settlers living in the OPT in violation of international humanitarian law have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
Recommendations to the International Community
1. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their legal and moral obligations under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. PCHR believes that the conspiracy of silence practiced by the international community has encouraged Israel to act as if it is above the law and encourages Israel continue to violate international human rights and humanitarian law.
2. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to convene a conference to take effective steps to ensure Israel’s respect of the Convention in the OPT and to provide immediate protection for Palestinian civilians.
3. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to comply with its legal obligations detailed in Article 146 of the Convention to search for and prosecute those responsible for grave breaches, namely war crimes.
4. PCHR calls for the immediately implementation of the Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice, which considers the construction of the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank illegal.
5. PCHR recommends international civil society organizations, including human rights organizations, bar associations and NGOs to participate in the process of exposing those accused of grave breaches of international law and to urge their governments to bring these people to justice.
6. PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that Israel must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel. PCHR further calls upon the EU states to prohibit import of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT.
7. PCHR calls on the international community to recognize the Gaza disengagement plan, which was implemented last year, for what it is - not an end to occupation but a compounding of the occupation and the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
8. In recognition of ICRC as the guardian of the Fourth Geneva Convention, PCHR calls upon the ICRC to increase its staff and activities in the OPT, including the facilitation of family visitations to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
9. PCHR appreciates the efforts of international civil society, including human rights organizations, bar associations, unions and NGOs, and urges them to continue their role in pressuring their governments to secure Israel’s respect for human rights in the OPT and to end its attacks on Palestinian civilians.
10. PCHR calls upon the international community to pressure Israel to lift the severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli government and its occupation forces on access for international organizations to the OPT.
11. PCHR reiterates that any political settlement not based on international human rights law and humanitarian law cannot lead to a peaceful and just solution of the Palestinian question. Rather, such an arrangement can only lead to further suffering and instability in the region. Any peace agreement or process must be based on respect for international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law.