As the US-British War on Iraq Began, Israeli Human Rights Violations in the OPT Continued


 

· 7 Palestinians, including 3 children, were killed by Israeli forces

· Four
of the victims, including a child, were killed in an assassination

· Israeli
forces conducted a series of incursions into Palestinian areas, accompanied by
indiscriminate shelling

· The
Israeli retaliatory campaign continues against families of wanted Palestinians
and those who allegedly have carried out armed attacks against Israeli
targets 

· A
number of Palestinians have been detained

· The
severe siege of the OPT has continued


Introduction


For the past three months, amidst anticipation of war
on Iraq, Israeli occupying forces dramatically escalated their illegal military
actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Since the beginning of the US-British war on
Iraq, PCHR has closely monitored Israeli violations of human rights in the
Occupied Palestinian Territories, concerned that Israeli occupying forces may
exploit the current circumstances to escalate violations while the world is
busy observing the war. Although these
forces relatively decreased their pressure on the Occupied Palestinian
Territories, the past three months have shown that this week of
"relative" calm is an anomaly.

 

Israeli occupying forces have perpetrated more
illegal actions and human rights violations against Palestinian civilians,
including willful killings, shelling of and incursions into Palestinian areas
and agricultural land leveling
This week, 20-26 March 2003, 7 Palestinian
civilians, including 3 children, were killed by Israeli occupying forces.

 

In a continuation of the policy of
extra-judicial assassination officially adopted by the Israeli political and
military establishments against Palestinian field and political activists, on
Tuesday, 25 March 2003, an undercover unit of the
Israeli occupying forces
shot dead 4 Palestinians, including two targeted persons and a child, and
injured two other civilians. Less than
two weeks earlier, undercover units of
Israeli occupying forces
killed 10 Palestinians in Tammoun village and Jenin refugee camp
.

 

In an excessive use of lethal force,
Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinian boys in Jenin, when a number of boys
threw stones at Israeli tanks that had moved into the town and imposed a
curfew. 

 

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces
conducted a series of large encroachments into Palestinian areas, using heavy
military vehicles and
combat helicopters, during which they arrested a
number of Palestinians. A Palestinian
civilian died from a heart attack when Israeli soldiers attacked him while they
were raiding his house. Israeli
occupying forces also razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land in
Deir al-Balah, and destroyed a concrete factory in the eastern part of Gaza
city. 

 

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 two Palestinian houses in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip.

 

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 separate zones and have
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. Israeli occupying forces have also maintained a strict siege on
al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip for several months, which has caused
a deterioration of the living conditions of Palestinians civilians in the
area.  

 

The Shelling of and Encroachment
into Palestinian Areas

 

Thursday, 20 March 2003

 

At approximately 02:30, Israeli
occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and helicopters, and
covered by intense gunfire, moved from "Kfar Darom" settlement,
southeast of Deir al-Balah, into al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza
Strip. They surrounded the house of
‘Abdul Nasser ‘Ali al-Mana’ama, 31, who is allegedly wanted by Israeli
forces. A number of Israeli soldiers
broke into the house, searching for al-Mana’ama, but he was not there. Israeli soldiers searched the house
thoroughly. An hour later, Israeli
forces withdrew from the area. 

 

Friday, 21 March 2003

 

At approximately 13:30, Israeli occupying
forces, reinforced by 6 heavy military vehicles, including two bulldozers,
covered by intense gunfire, moved approximately 800m into Palestinian
agricultural areas north of "Kfar Darom" settlement, southeast of
Deir al-Balah. They razed 46 donums of
Palestinian agricultural land, as follows:

 

 1. They razed a 2-donum area of
agricultural land, on which two greenhouses planted with vegetables stood,
destroyed a 10-meter-long water pipeline and uprooted two trees owned by
Mohammed Humaid Abu Qassem
. 

 2. They razed a 500-square-meter area of
agricultural land planted with olives and palms owned by Anwar ‘Abdul Qader Abu
Salim
.

 3. They razed a 500-square-meter area of
agricultural land planted with olives and palms and destroyed a 10-meter-long
fence owned by Jamal ‘Abdul Qader Abu Salim.

 4. They razed a 500-square-meter area of
agricultural land planted with olives and palms and destroyed a 50-meter-long
fence owned by Jamal ‘Abdul Qader Abu Salim
.

 5. They razed a 6-donum area of
agricultural land, on which 4 greenhouses planted with tomatoes stood, while
the remaining two donums were planted with cabbages, and destroyed an
irrigation network and a water pump, owned by Ibrahim Yahia Abu Salim. 

 6. They razed a 6-donum area of
agricultural land, on which 3 greenhouses planted with vegetables stood, while
the remaining 3 donums were planted with cabbages and cauliflowers, owned by
‘Atiya Suleiman al-‘Attar.

 7. They razed a 4-donum area of
agricultural land, on which 4 greenhouses planted with vegetables stood, and
destroyed a 400-square-meter bird farm owned by Yahia ‘Abdul Karim Abu
Salim. 

 8. They razed a 2-donum area of
agricultural land, on which two greenhouses planted with tomatoes stood, and
destroyed a 400-square-meter bird farm owned by ‘Abdul Rahman ‘Abdul Karim Abu
Salim.

 9. They razed a 6-donum area of
agricultural land, on which 6 greenhouses planted with tomatoes stood, owned by
Mohammed Hassan Abu Jaber
. 

10. They
razed a 1-donum area of agricultural land, on which a greenhouse planted with
peppers stood, owned by Mohammed ‘Abdul Salam al-Fallit
. 

11. They
razed a 1-donum area of agricultural land, on which a greenhouse planted with
peppers stood, owned by Ibrahim ‘Abdul Salam al-Fallit
.

12. They
razed a 1-donum area of agricultural land, on which a greenhouse planted with
peppers stood, and destroyed some agricultural equipment owned by Hassan ‘Abdul
Salam al-Fallit.

13. They
razed a 1-donum area of agricultural land planted with wheat owned by Aamena
Yousef al-Fallit and brothers
.

14. They
razed a 2-donum area of agricultural land planted with wheat owned by ‘Atiya
Suleiman Abu Jarir and brothers
. 

15. They
razed a 3-donum area of agricultural land planted with wheat owned by Saber
‘Atiya al-Fallit
.

16. They
razed a 2-donum area of agricultural land planted with olives owned by Zayed
Mohammed Shahin
. 

17. They
razed a 3-donum area of agricultural land planted with olives owned by Mahasen
Sha’ban al-Najjar
.

18. They
razed a 2-donum area of agricultural land planted with vegetables and wheat
owned by Suleiman Khalil al-Fallit
. 

19. They
razed a 3.5-donum area of agricultural land, on which a greenhouse planted with
vegetables stood, while the remaining two donums were planted with wheat
. 

20. They
destroyed a well owned by Mejalli Yahia Abu Salim and partners
. 

21. They
destroyed a 6-meter-long fence of the National Animal Feed Company owned by
Kahder Hasan Rabah Abu ‘Ajwa
.

22. They
destroyed a 25-meter-long fence of al-‘Awda Factory owned by Mohammed ‘Oliyan
al-Tilbani
.

23. They
destroyed an 8-meter-long fence surrounding a 2-donum area of agricultural land
owned by Mahmoud ‘Oliyan al-Masri
.

 

Saturday, 22 March 2003

 

At approximately 09:00, Israeli
occupying forces, accompanied by two military bulldozers, moved approximately
200m west of a settler road linking al-Mentar crossing and al-Shuhada’
junction, southeast of Gaza city. They
demolished some Palestinian civilian facilities and tracts of agricultural
land, as follows:

 1. They
destroyed a 170-square-meter concrete factory owned by Yahia Fadhel
Hussein. They also destroyed all of the
facilities belonging to the factory, including wells, guardrooms and
machines. The factory was subject to
repeated partial destruction by Israeli occupying forces, and on each occasion,
the owner rebuilt the factory as it served as a source of income for dozens of
Palestinians. 

 2. They
razed a 5-donum area of agricultural land planted with olives, owned by
Mohammed Nasser Hammad Kishku
. 

 3. They
razed a 5-donum area of agricultural land planted with olives, owned by Samir
Walid Hammad Kishku
.

 4. They
demolished a 160-square-meter house, under construction, owned by Yousef
Qaddoura Malaka
. 

 5. They
destroyed a 300-square-meter, tin-roofed empty bird farm owned by Mohammed
Yousef Qaddoura Malaka
.

 6. They
razed a 5-donum area of agricultural land planted with olives and destroyed an
empty animal farm owned by Yousef Qaddoura Malaka and brothers
. 

 

At night, Israeli occupying forces moved
into a Palestinian residential area southeast of Deir al-Balah. They surrounded the house of Ibrahim Mohammed
Khalil al-Fallit, 61. When the owner
tried to open the door after repeated attempts by Israeli soldiers to break
into the house, Israeli soldiers pushed the door violently. As a result, al-Fallit fell onto the ground
and died. In his testimony to PCHR, the
owner’s son, Sa’id, said:

"At approximately 23:00 on Saturday, 22 March 2003, I and my 12-member family, including my parents, were
inside our 360-square-meter, 3-storey house. I heard violent knocking on the door. I got down from the third floor of the house to open the door. I saw my father trying to open the door, as
we realized that those who were knocking on the door were Israeli soldiers who
repeatedly raided the area. Soon, 6
Israeli soldiers kicked in the door. My
father was blocked between the door and the wall behind it. I hurried towards my father to check his
condition. He lost consciousness. I asked the Israeli soldiers to help me
provide him with first medical aid, but they refused and started searching the
house. Approximately 10 minutes later,
they left the house. Immediately, I
evacuated my father to an ambulance that was waiting on the main road. The ambulance traveled to al-Aqsa Martyrs
Hospital in Deir al-Balah. Soon after
our arrival, my father died. According
to medical sources, he suffered from an acute heart attack. There were also bruises on his head and
leg. My father was suffering from some
diseases, including heart disease."

 

Sunday, 23 March 2003

 

At approximately 01:00, Israeli
occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles, moved from Sofa
crossing, northeast of Rafah
, approximately 3km into
al-Shouka neighborhood. They moved
towards Salah al-Din Street linking between Khan Yunis and Rafah and closed
it. Then, they moved approximately 1km
south and surrounded the house of Subhi Mohammed Saleh Abu Shousha. They broke into the house and arrested Abu
Shousha. During this incursion, Israeli
occupying forces fired at 5 members of the Palestinian National Security Force,
wounding two of them, as follows:

 1. Ammar Khalil Darwish, 25, wounded by two live bullets in the right arm
and thigh and by shrapnel in the left thigh; and

 2. Mohammed
Salem Subaih Abu al-Husain, 31, wounded by a live bullet and shrapnel in the
left thigh
. 

 

Monday, 24 March 2003

 

At approximately 00:15, Israeli
occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and a helicopter,
covered by intense shelling, moved into Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in the west
of Rafah. Immediately, they raided the
house of Hamed Hamdan Hassanain Abu Lebda to arrest his son, ‘Abdullah, 28, who
is allegedly wanted by Israeli forces. They could not arrest him, so they arrested his two brothers, Isma’il,
43, and Suleiman 24, but released them later. At the same time, other forces raided the house of Mohammed Ayoub
al-Akhras to arrest his son, Joma’a, 40, who is allegedly wanted by Israeli
forces. They searched the house, but did
not find him, so they arrested his three brothers; Zuhair, Zuhdi and
Ussama. The latter remained in custody,
while the other two were released later. According to owners of the two houses, Israeli forces stole some money
and jewelry while raiding their houses. 

 

During the incursion, Israeli forces
destroyed the door and a wall of a 100-square-meter, asbestos-roofed house, in
which 6 people live, owned by Miriam Mohammed Khalil Abu Jazar. They also destroyed a number of electricity
towers and parts of a road in the southern part of the neighborhood. 

At approximately 01:00, Israeli
occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles, moved approximately
1km into Um Dhuhair area in southern part of Deir al-Balah. Immediately
, using
dogs, they raided the house of Ragheb Suleiman Abu Nusair, 28, allegedly wanted
by these forces. They forced Nusair and
his wife and two children out, searched the house, and later arrested him
. 

 

Tuesday, 25 March 2003

 

At approximately 03:00, Israeli
occupying forces surrounded al-Rouj area in Jenin refugee camp and opened fire
at Palestinian houses. A Palestinian
civilian, Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Shadouf, 20, from Bourqin village, was wounded
by a live bullet in
the neck. Israeli forces arrested 3 Palestinians, including a child. 

 

 

 

 

Assassination

 

In a continuation of the policy of
extra-judicial assassination officially adopted by the Israeli political and
military establishments, on Tuesday, 25 March 2003, an
undercover unit of
Israeli occupying forces shot dead 4 Palestinians, including two targeted
persons and a child, and injured two other civilians
. Less than two weeks earlier, undercover units of
Israeli occupying forces killed 10 Palestinians in Tammoun village and Jenin
refugee camp
.

 

According to information available to
PCHR, at approximately 18:50, Mo’affaq ‘Abdul Raziq Badwan, 45, from Beit Jala,
Nader Ibrahim Salama Jawarish, from ‘Aaida refugee camp, northwest of
Bethlehem, and ‘Alaa’ al-Din Hassan Mohammed ‘Ayad, 25, also from ‘Aaida
refugee camp, were traveling in a civilian car in Jamal ‘Abdul Nasser
Street. When they arrived at Shepherd
Hotel, members of an undercover unit of Israeli occupying forces got out of a
car they had parked in the area and opened fire at the civilian car. The three Palestinians were killed. Then, a civilian car, in which George Antoine
Sa’ada, 38, his wife, Najwa Fu’ad Marar Sa’ada, 35, and their daughter,
Kristine, 10, were traveling, arrived in the area. Immediately, Israeli soldiers opened fire at
the car. The child was killed by several
live bullets in the head and the chest, while the father was wounded by a live
bullet in the neck, and the mother was wounded by shrapnel throughout her
body. 

 

Soon, two military jeeps and an armored
truck belonging to Israeli occupying forces arrived and imposed a curfew on the
area. Israeli forces took bodies of
Jawarish and ‘Ayad, while Badwan’s body was evacuated to al-Hussein Hospital in
Beit Jala
. According
to medical sources, Badwan was shot by 15 explosive live bullets throughout the
body
. 

 

Later, the Israeli daily Yediot
Aharanot
quoted Israeli military
sources on its Arabic web site, claiming:

 

"An undercover unit of the Border Guard moved into
Bethlehem to arrest members of a cell of Hamas movement. Members of the unit got out of their
car. Then, a car, in which three
Palestinians, including two gunmen, were traveling, arrived in the area. The gunmen fired at the unit, so the unit
returned fire. The two gunmen were
killed. The third passenger, Mowaffaq
Badwna, 40, attempted to escape so Israeli soldiers shot him dead. During the exchange of fire, a car, in which
the family of Sa’ada, from Beit Jala, was traveling, arrived. Israeli soldiers opened fire at the car,
killing 10-year-old Kristine and injuring her parents." 

 

The newspaper further claimed that
"according to an initial investigation, Israeli soldiers thought that the
driver was going to run over them, while another testimony revealed that the car
arrived in the area, where an exchange of fire took place, by
coincidence." The newspaper added
that "initial investigation revealed that Israeli soldiers thought that
gunmen were traveling in the second car, so they opened fire at it." 

 

Shooting at Palestinian Civilians

 

Friday, 21 March 2003

 

At approximately 03:00, Israeli
occupying forces surrounded a deserted house near Palestine Bank in the center
of Qalqilya. Israeli soldiers opened
fire at the house without prior warning. Approximately 15 minutes later, Israeli soldiers broke into the house
and removed two young men who were wounded. Later, the two young men were identified as:

 

 1. Ra’ed Ahmed al-Houtari, 31; and

 2. Anis Fahmi Mohye al-Din Shuraim, 27. 

 

At approximately 13:00, after the Friday
prayer, Israeli soldiers fired at Palestinian civilians who challenged the
curfew imposed on Qalqilya and went to mosques. Four civilians were wounded, as follows
:

 1. Ayman Ahmed Mustafa Hashaika, 11,
wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the left leg
;

 2. Odai Kamel Nazzal, 11, wounded by a rubber-coated
metal bullet in the left foot
;

 3. Ahmed Humaida Hijaz al-Ra’ei, 18,
wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the abdomen; and

 4. Yousef Hassan Nassar, 17, wounded by a
rubber-coated metal bullet in the left leg
. 

 

Saturday, 22 March 2003

 

At approximately 13:00, Palestinian
civilians in the Nazzal neighborhood of Qalqilya, which had been under a curfew
since Thursday, 20 March 2003, left their homes to purchase food supplies. Immediately, Israeli soldiers fired at those
civilians without prior warning. Two
civilians we wounded:

 

 1. Nidal Ahmed ‘Abdul Ra’ouf Nazzal, 20,
wounded by a live bullet in the right shoulder; and

 2. Mo’tassem Ahmed Mo’ein Qawas, 16,
wounded by a live bullet in the left foot
. 

 

Sunday, 23 March 2003

 

At approximately 08:30, Israeli soldiers
at a military checkpoint on the coastal road between Deir al-Balah and Khan
Yunis, fired at Khalil Ibrahim Braham al-Aqra’, 76, while he was on his way to
work, located approximately 1km south of the checkpoint. Al-Aqra’ was wounded by a live bullet in the
left thigh. 

 

At noon, Israeli occupying forces
erected a roadblock at the southern entrance of Ramallah and al-Bireh. Israeli soldiers stopped and searched
civilian cars. A number of Palestinian
school children gathered in the area and threw stones towards the Israeli
soldiers. Immediately, Israeli soldiers
fired at the stone throwers wounding two:

 

 1. Ali Nu’man Mustafa ‘Abdul Qader, 13, from Bitounia, wounded by a
rubber-coated metal bullet in the face; and

 2. Ahmed
‘Abdul Rahman Mahmoud Nemer, 17, wounded by several rubber-coated metal bullets
throughout the body
. 

 

Monday, 24 March
2003

 

At approximately 14:00,
a number of Palestinian boys gathered in the al-Marah neighborhood in southeast
Jenin. They threw stones towards Israeli
tanks as the town had been under a curfew. Israeli soldiers in tanks opened fire at the boys who did not pose any
threat to the lives of those soldiers. Ahmed ‘Emad ‘Abahra, 15, was killed by a live bullet in the head, and
Nawaf Sinan Hindawi, 17, was wounded by a live bullet in the right leg. 

 

 

Tuesday, 25 March
2003

 

At approximately 17:00,
a number of Palestinian boys gathered in the al-Marah neighborhood in southeast
Jenin. They threw stones towards Israeli
tanks, as the town had been under curfew since Sunday, 23 March 2003. Israeli soldiers in tanks opened fire at the
boys who did not pose any threat to the lives of those soldiers. Mahmoud Bassam Nassar, 13, was seriously
wounded by a live bullet in the abdomen. He was evacuated to hospital, but all efforts made to save his life
failed and he was pronounced dead at approximately 18:00. 

 

On Monday, 24 March
2003, in an attempt to justify the two killings in Jenin on Monday and Tuesday,
the Israeli daily Yediot Aharanot quoted Israeli military sources on its Arabic
web site, claiming that "the Israeli military shot dead a Palestinian boy
in Jenin when he climbed onto a tank and tried to steal weapons." On Tuesday, 25 March, the newspaper quoted
Israeli military sources claiming that "the Israeli military shot dead a
Palestinian boy and injured his colleague when they climbed onto an armored
personnel carrier to steal a machine gun." However, eyewitnesses refuted these Israeli claims and asserted that Israeli
soldiers fired at the two boys from a distance of approximately 70m. 

 

Collective Punishment Measures against Families of
Wanted Palestinians and Those Who have Carried out Armed Attacks against
Israeli Targets

 

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.

At approximately 02:30 on Thursday, 20
March 2003, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced by heavy military vehicles and
a helicopter, and covered by intense gunfire, moved from "Kfar Darom"
settlement, southeast of Deir al-Balah, approximately 3km into al-Zawaida
village in the central Gaza Strip. They
surrounded the house of Murad ‘Abdullah Isma’il Abu Rikab, 22, who is allegedly
wanted by Israeli forces. They broke
into the 140-square-meter, asbestos-roofed house, where 12 people live, and
arrested Abu Rikab, his brother, Eyad, 23, and his father. Then, they forced the family out and
destroyed the house. A neighboring house
was severely damaged. Later, Israeli
forces released the father and his other son, while Murad remained in
custody. 

 

At approximately 02:30 on Friday, 21
March 2003, 4 Israeli military jeeps moved into al-Doha village, southwest of
Bethlehem. They surrounded the house of
Tawfiq Mohammed Dar Yassin. They forced out
the 5 residents of the
150-square-meter house and destroyed it. The owner is the father of Mohammed Dar Yassin, who carried out an armed
attack against "Efrat" settlement, south of Bethlehem, on 22 February
2003
. 

 

********

PCHR calls:

1. Upon the
international community to provide immediate and independent international protection
for the Palestinian
people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
.

2. Upon the
High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to reconvene
to take effective measures to protect Palestinian civilians in the Occupied
Palestinian Territories
, in accordance with their obligations under
article 1 and article 146, to ensure the respect of the Convention
.

3. Upon the
international community to investigate and prosecute those believed to have
committed war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories before
international courts.

4. Upon the
ICRC to enhance its presence, expand its activities, and intensify its field
operations throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories
.

5. Upon the
European Union to activate Article 2 of the Euro-Israeli Association Agreement,
which provides that Israel must respect human rights.

6. Upon the
international community to provide humanitarian and medical assistance for the
Palestinian people, whose living conditions are continuing to deteriorate as a
result of the continued siege imposed by Israeli occupation forces on the
entire Occupied Palestinian Territories.