Weekly report on human rights

13-19 March 2003

This week, Israeli occupying forces have perpetrated more illegal military actions against Palestinian civilians and civilian property in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, killing 27 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 7 children.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces conducted a series of large encroachments into Palestinian areas, using heavy military vehicles and combat helicopters. 

On Monday, 17 March 2003, 11 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including three children, were killed when Israeli occupying forces moved into Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip and Beit Lahia in the north.  More than 30 people were injured during the incursions.  Israeli forces destroyed a house in Nusseirat refugee camp, even though they knew well that its owner, who is allegedly wanted by these forces, was still inside the house.  A number of neighboring houses were severely damaged. 

In two cases of apparent willful killing in less than 24 hours, undercover units of Israeli occupying forces killed 5 Palestinians in Tammoun village and 4 others, including two children, in Jenin refugee camp on Thursday evening, 13 March 2003, and Friday morning, 14 March 2003, respectively.  An tenth Palestinian was killed when he and other Palestinian gunmen confronted Israeli forces that moved into Jenin refugee camp. 

Undercover units of Israeli occupying forces are usually described as “death teams” due to the nature of killings they perpetrate against allegedly wanted Palestinians.  On its Arabic web site, the Israeli daily Yediot Aharanot quoted the commander of those units as saying that his units killed 79 Palestinians in 2002. 

Israeli occupying forces also shelled Palestinian residential areas, killing two Palestinian civilians, including a child, in Khan Yunis and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.  In two cases of apparent willful killing, Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian civilians, including a child.  Two other civilians died from previous injuries they sustained by Israeli forces. 

In addition, an American peace activist was killed on Sunday, 16 March 2003, by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. She and eight of her colleagues from the International Solidarity Movement were trying to stop Israeli occupying forces from bulldozing a number of houses in al-Salam neighborhood of Rafah.

In violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits collective punishment, Israeli forces took retaliatory measures against families of Palestinians who have carried out attacks against Israeli targets in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and those wanted by Israeli forces.  In this context, they destroyed 5 Palestinian houses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including one in Nusseirat refugee camp.

Israeli occupying forces have maintained a total siege on the OPT.  They have isolated Palestinian communities from one another.  They have partitioned the Gaza Strip into three separated zones and restricted the movement of people and goods.  They have also maintained curfews on some areas in the West Bank.  Since Saturday, 15 March 2003, Israeli occupying authorities prevented Palestinians aged 16-35 from traveling abroad.  A similar decision was in effect between 17 January and 3 March 2003.  On Monday, 16 March 2003, Israeli occupying forces closed Sofa and Beit Hanoun crossings in the Gaza Strip, and denied access of Palestinian workers to their work places in Israel.   

To access the full report click here.