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Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories 13 - 19 Mar 2003

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Israel
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PCHR
Publication date

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Consultative Status with the ECOSOC of the United Nations
Affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists - Geneva
Member of the International Federation for Human Rights - Paris
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network
The International Community Remains Silent While Israeli Human Rights Violations in the OPT Continue

  • 27 Palestinians, including 7 children, killed by Israeli forces

  • An American peace activist killed by Israeli forces in Rafah

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

  • Israeli forces continued to use Palestinian civilians as human shields

  • 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

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.

Israeli offensive on Nusseirat and Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip

On Monday, 17 March 2003, 11 Palestinians, 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 Palestinians were also injured during the incursions.

According to PCHR's investigation and eyewitness reports, at approximately 03:30 on Monday, 17 March 2003, around 35 heavy Israeli military vehicles, reinforced with two combat helicopters and covered by intense shelling, moved from "Netzarim" settlement, south of Gaza City, into Nusseirat refugee camp. They surrounded a 300-square-meter, 3-storey house, in which 5 families, counting 34 people, live, owned by the family of al-Sa'afin. Through loudspeakers they called on residents of the house to get out, which they did, except for 34-year-old Mohammed Rajab al-Sa'afin. Israeli forces arrested two of his brothers and his nephew when the family got out of the house.

Al-Sa'afin apparently remained inside the houses and a one-hour exchange of fire erupted between him and the Israeli soldiers. Then, the soldiers ordered the residents of the neighboring houses to get out of their houses. At the same time, some soldiers broke into al-Sa'afin's house and planted explosives inside it. Mohammed al-Sa'afin was still inside. At approximately 06:15, while they were withdrawing from the area, Israeli soldiers destroyed the house. Al-Sa'afin's body was found distorted under the ruins. Four neighboring houses were severely damaged:

1. A 280-square-meter, 2-storey house, in which 4 families counting 14 people live, owned by Mervat Fadhel Hassan Abu 'Ataya;

2. A 240-square-meter, 3-storey house, in which 4 families counting 16 people live, owned by Sa'id Mohammed 'Awadh;

3. A 400-square-meter, asbestos-roofed house, in which two families counting 12 people live, owned by Nasser Khalil Abu Sharar; and

4. A 150-square-meter house, in which 6 people live, owned by Ahmed 'Abdul Qader Ibrahim.

As a result of the Israeli indiscriminate shelling, 6 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were killed:

1. Ilham Ziad Hassan al-'Assar, 4, shot by two live bullets in the abdomen and the left foot while at home;

2. 'Omar Tawfiq Salama Abu Yousef, 17, hit in the head by shrapnel from a shell;

3. 'Omar Hassan Suleiman Darwish, 17, shot by a live bullet in the head;

4. Sa'id Husni Sa'id al-Tawil, 30, shot by a live bullet in the neck;

5. Eyad Bashir Zuraiq, 18, shot by a live bullet in the head; and

6. Nabil Mohammed Edwiedar, 40, shot by a live bullet in the head and was pronounced dead in the evening.

In addition, 15 other civilians were injured, 3 of them seriously.

A number of Palestinian gunmen confronted the invading Israeli forces, which opened fire at them, killing 25-year-old Ibrahim Yousef al-'Othmani with two live bullets in the head and the chest.

During the incursion, Israeli forces raided and searched 4 houses of the Qudaih family. They then arrested 4 brothers: 'Omar, Jamal, Jamil and Sharif Mohammed Mahmoud Qudaih, who are all members of the Palestinian police.

At approximately 06:20, while the Israeli forces were withdrawing from Nusseirat refugee camp, other Israeli forces moved approximately 3km into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. They moved into al-'Atatra area, where they seized a number of Palestinian houses, from which they opened fire in all directions. Then, they called through loudspeakers on male residents of the area between 15 and 40 years old to gather in a yard near the American School and held them there. At approximately 09:00, a number of Palestinians, including members of the Palestinian Naval Police went to the streets, thinking that Israeli forces ware pulling out of the area. Immediately, Israeli soldiers in the houses they had already seized opened fire at the people. Two members of the Palestinian Naval Police were killed:

1. Ramez Mansour Hassan al-Sidoudi, 19, from al-Shojaeya neighborhood in Gaza City, shot by a live bullet in the head; and

2. Shadi Mohammed 'Abdullah Khurais, 22, from Khan Yunis, shot by a live bullet in the head.

At noon, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian civilian, 'Alaa' Mohammed al-Kahlout, 22, with a live bullet in the head. In addition, 15 other Palestinians were injured. At approximately 15:30, Israeli occupying forces released male residents of the area and withdrew.

The Shelling of and Encroachment into Palestinian Areas

Thursday, 13 March 2003

In the evening, undercover units of Israeli occupying forces killed 5 Palestinians, allegedly wanted by these forces, in Tammoun village in Jenin. According to information available to PCHR, at approximately 18:00, 6 Palestinian young men, allegedly wanted by Israeli occupying forces, moved from Tammoun village, which is under full Palestinian control, southeast of Jenin, to al-Batta Mount, west of the town, where they used to hide at night to avoid being arrested by Israeli forces. When they were approximately 20m away from Tammoun secondary school, they saw 4 persons wearing civilian clothes on the roof of the school. One of those persons shouted on the young men, and they all fired at the young men, who were also fired at from the directions of the mount and the western entrance of the village. They were only 30m away from the sources of fire. Five of the young men were killed:

1. Baker Nayef 'Atiya Bani 'Ouda, 21, from Tammoun village;

2. 'Emad Nayef 'Atiya Bani 'Ouda, 28, from Tammoun village, the first victim's brother;

3. Amin 'Ali Sa'ad Bisharat, 18, from Tammoun village;

4. Sami Fathi Bisharat, 22, from Tammoun village; and

5. Mohammed 'Aaref Mahajna, 23, from al-Taybeh village, west of Jenin.

The sixth young man was wounded by 7 live bullets in the limbs and was able to escape. A few minutes later, about 20 Israeli heavy military vehicles, accompanied by a bulldozer and two ambulances, arrived in the village. Ten heavy military vehicles, the ambulances and the bulldozer moved towards the place of the incident and imposed a curfew on the village, while the rest of vehicles imposed a siege on the western entrance of the village. At approximately 03:00 on the following day, Friday, 14 March 2003, Israeli occupying forces withdrew from the village and took bodies of the victims. In the morning, villagers went to the place of the incident, where they found clothes of the victims and their blood on the ground.

Friday, 14 March 2003

At approximately 04:00, an infantry unit of Israeli occupying forces moved approximately 200m into Abu Haddaf area in al-Qarara village, north of Khan Yunis. Israeli soldiers deployed on agricultural land and raided the house of Hammad Saleh Salem Abu Haddaf, where 4 families counting 30 people live. They held male residents of the house in one room and detained female ones in another room. They also got on the roof and transformed it into a military site. Four hours later, Israeli soldiers left the house, while reinforcements of Israeli heavy military vehicles moved into the area and imposed a curfew. Israeli soldiers raided a number of houses. During this incursion, which continued until 13:45, Israeli occupying forces razed 8 donums of Palestinian agricultural land:

1. They razed a 5-donum area of agricultural land planted with olives and citrus and destroyed an irrigation network owned by Ahmed Salem Nasser al-Sumairi.

2. They razed a 3-donum area of agricultural land planted with vegetables and destroyed an irrigation network owned by 'Abdul Rahim Salem al-Sumairi.

In the morning, an undercover unit of Israeli occupying forces killed 4 Palestinians, including two children, who were sleeping in an uninhabited house in Jenin Refugee camp. Israeli forces claimed that the victims were wanted. This killing came less than 24 hours after a similar killing in Tammoun village, which left dead 5 Palestinians.

According to information available to PCHR, at approximately 06:30, an undercover unit of Israeli occupying forces wearing civilian clothes infiltrated into al-Hawashin quarter in Jenin refugee camp. Immediately, Israeli soldiers broke into the house of Mazen al-Adib, which has been uninhabited since the Israeli onslaught on the camp last April. Israeli soldiers shot dead 4 Palestinians who were sleeping in the house. Soon, about 30 Israeli heavy military vehicles, reinforced with two helicopters and covered by intense gunfire, moved into the camp to cover the withdrawal of the undercover unit. A number of Palestinian gunmen confronted Israeli forces. One of the gunmen, Yousef Ahmed Masharqa, 20, from Jenin refugee camp, was killed by two live bullets in the chest and the right leg, which were fired from an Israeli helicopter. When Israeli forces withdrew from the camp, Palestinian ambulances moved towards the house that was attacked by Israeli forces. The four bodies were evacuated to hospital, where the victims were identified as:

1. Wathiq Ahmed Besher Eghbariya, 17, from Jenin refugee camp, shot by 6 live bullets in the head and the chest;

2. Rabi' Hassan Masharqa, 20, from al-Zababda village, southeast of Jenin, shot by 5 live bullets in the head and the chest;

3. Ussama Rebhi Abu Khalil, 15, from 'Attil village, north of Tulkarm, shot by 6 live bullets in the head, the chest and the hands; and

4. Ibrahim Khalil Munaizel, 20, from 'Attil village, north of Tulkarm, shot by 6 live bullets in the head, the chest and the hands.

At approximately 23:20, medical sources at Shifa' Hospital declared that Samir Saleh Muhra, 27, succumbed to an injury he sustained by Israeli occupying forces on 6 March 2003, when these forces invaded the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya and its refugee camp. In that invasion, 11 Palestinians were killed and more than 50 others were injured, one of whom died later. So, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupying forces during that invasion had increased to 13. According to medical sources, Muhra was hit throughout the body by shrapnel from an artillery shell.

At the same time, medical sources at Soroka Hospital in Israel declared that Saleh D'iab Salim Abu 'Otaiwi, 46, from Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, died from burns he sustained on 2 March 2003, when a flare bomb fired by an Israeli helicopter as Israeli occupying forces that invaded al-Boreij refugee camp, fell onto the roof of his house, which is located at the crossroads between the two camps. Abu 'Otaiwi was watching the movement of Israeli heavy military vehicles into al-Boreij refugee camp.

At approximately 23:40, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced with heavy military vehicles, moved from Rafah Terminal approximately 700m into al-Shouka neighborhood in the southeast of Rafah. Immediately, they surrounded the house of 'Awad Mohammed al-Mahmoum, and 12 Israeli soldiers, whose faces were colored in black and were accompanied by dogs, raided the house. Israeli soldiers used a woman in the house, Maziouna al-Mahmoum, 27, as a human shield while searching the house. When they finished searching the house, Israeli soldiers arrested two twins of the family; 'Ouda and 'Abdul Karim 'Awad Mohammed al-Mahmoud, 27. According to the owner of the house, Israeli soldiers stole an amount of money, a mobile phone and some jewelry.

At approximately 19:00, Israeli occupying forces opened fire at Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in the west of Rafah. Two Palestinian civilians were wounded:

1. Do'aa' 'Essam al-Kurdi, 4, wounded by a live bullet in the left elbow; and

2. Ahmed 'Abdul Qader Salama, 26, wounded by shrapnel in the left foot.

Sunday, 16 March 2003

At approximately 17:30, Israeli occupying forces in a military location called "al-Nouria", west of Khan Yunis, opened fire at al-Amal neighborhood, approximately 150m east. Three Palestinian civilians were wounded while they were on a playground in the area. Ambulances were not able to reach them due to the intense Israeli gunfire, so the wounded were forced to crawl on the ground behind sand barriers. A few minutes later, a Palestinian civilian, Mohammed 'Eissa 'Abdul Rahim 'Abdul Hadi, 17, got out of his house and tried to offer help to the wounded, while the Israeli gunfire continued. 'Abdul Hadi was shot dead by a live bullet in the abdomen. Approximately an hour later, the wounded could reach the main road, where ambulances were waiting for them. The wounded were identified as:

1. Walid 'Abdul Hamid Ibrahim Killab, 34, seriously wounded by two live bullets in the abdomen and the foot;

2. 'Ali Mohammed Mohammed Enshassi, 31, wounded by two live bullets in the back and the left thigh; and

3. Ashraf Yousef Jaber Abu Khudair, 27, wounded by a live bullet in the left leg.

Similarly, at approximately 19:00, Israeli occupying forces in a military location at the entrance of al-Mawasi area in the west of Rafah opened fire at Tal al-Sultan neighborhood. A Palestinian civilian, Ahmed Ahmed Mahmoud al-Najjar, 45, was seriously wounded by three live bullets in the chest, the back and the left knee, while he was sitting near his house, approximately 400m away from the source of fire. He was evacuated to hospital, but medical efforts to save his life failed. The Israeli gunfire continued until 20:00, wounding two other Palestinian civilians:

1. 'Abdul Nasser Fathi Abu 'Armana, 32, wounded by shrapnel in the head; and

2. Mohammed Jamal Dukhan, 38, wounded by a live bullet in the left leg.

At approximately 21:00, Israeli occupying forces, accompanied by a military bulldozer, moved approximately 400m into Wadi al-Salqa village, southeast of Deir al-Balah. Immediately, they razed areas of Palestinian agricultural land:

1. They razed a 1-donum area of agricultural land planted with palms and citrus, and demolished a room and a 200-meter-long fence owned by Mahmoud Shaker Abu Taha.

2. They razed a 1-donum area of agricultural land planted with guavas and demolished a 200-meter-long fence owned by Fawzi Abu Nahia.

3. They uprooted 12 olive trees and demolished a 100-meter-long fence owned by Ahmed 'Ali Sa'id.

Tuesday, 18 March 2003

At approximately 05:00, an infantry unit of Israeli occupying forces moved approximately 300m into al-Hamra area in the southeast of Deir al-Balah. Israeli soldiers deployed in the area. They raided a 3-storey house owned by 'Ali Mahmoud Abu 'Amra, and held its 6 residents in one room. Some Israeli soldiers got onto its roof and transformed it into a military site. Approximately an hour later, three Israeli heavy military vehicles, including a bulldozer, arrived at the area. They razed areas of Palestinian agricultural land:

1. They razed an 8-donum area of agricultural land, on which 7 greenhouses planted with vegetables stood, while the remainder was planted with onions and garlic, and destroyed a water pump, a 16-square-meter room, an agricultural pool and a 20-square-meter store owned by Ahmed Isma'il Abu Bashir and brothers.

2. They razed a 1.5-donum area of agricultural land, on which a greenhouse planted with vegetables stood, owned by Miriam Ibrahim Bashir.

3. They razed a 2-donum area of agricultural land, on which two greenhouses stood, owned by Rushdi Salem Abu Samra.

Shooting at Palestinian Civilians

Friday, 14 March 2003

At approximately 18:30, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced with heavy military vehicles, moved into 'Azzoun village, east of Qalqilya. A number of Palestinian boys gathered in the center of the village and threw stones towards Israeli forces. Immediately, Israeli soldiers fired at the stone throwers, who did not pose any threat to the lives of those soldiers. Mohammed Nizar Ibrahim Salim, 17, was seriously wounded by a live bullet that entered the shoulder and settled in the abdomen. He bled to death as ambulances were not able to reach him until approximately 21:30. Two other boys were also wounded and arrested:

1. Murad Kamal Sa'id Suleiman, 17, wounded by two live bullets in the feet; and

2. 'Abdul Hadi Ahmed 'Othman Radwan, 17, wounded by two live bullets in the feet.

Monday, 17 March 2003

At approximately 13:20, Israeli occupying forces in military locations in the vicinity of "Neve Dekalim" settlement, west of Khan Yunis, opened fire at Palestinian civilians who were participating in the funeral procession of a Palestinian civilian who was shot dead by Israeli forces on the preceding day. A Palestinian civilian, Wa'el Joma'a Hamdan al-'Azzami Barhoum, 27, was seriously wounded by two live bullets in the chest. He was evacuated to hospital, but all medical efforts to save his life failed and he was pronounced dead at approximately 19:30. PCHR's field worker in Khan Yunis reported that Barhoum was suffering from disability in one of his feet.

It is worth noting that Israeli occupying forces repeatedly fired at Palestinian civilians in Khan Yunis during the funeral processions, which left dozens of casualties among these civilians.

Tuesday, 18 March 2003

At approximately 13:00, Israeli occupying forces in military locations in the vicinity of "Neve Dekalim" settlement, west of Khan Yunis, fired at Palestinian civilians who were participating in the funeral procession of Shadi Khureis and Wa'el Barhoum, who were killed by Israeli forces on the preceding day. A Palestinian child, Mohammed Kamel al-Hindi, 10, was seriously wounded by two live bullets in the right shoulder and the left side.

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.

After Israeli occupying forces had encroached into Sida village, northeast of Tulkarm, on Wednesday, 12 March 2003, and the confrontation between these forces and Palestinian men, which an Israeli soldier and a gunman were killed, on the following day, 13 March 2003, Israeli forces destroyed 3 houses belonging to families of Palestinian who are wanted or detained by these forces.

At approximately 11:00, Israeli forces surrounded a 140-square-meter, 2-storey house, in which two families counting 12 people live, owned by Ahmed Mustafa Yassin Hamad, who has been detained by these forces. Israeli forces forced residents of the house out and destroyed it.

At approximately 15:30, Israeli forces surrounded a 135-square-meter, 2-storey house, in which two families counting 11 people live, owned by 'Eissa 'Ali 'Eissa Ashqar. Israeli forces forced residents of the house out and destroyed it. Israeli forces claim that the owner's son, Zaher, is wanted.

At approximately 19:00, Israeli forces surrounded a 160-square-meter, 2-storey house, in which two families counting 10 people live, owned by Subhi Ahmed Mahmoud 'Ajaj. Israeli forces forced residents of the house out and destroyed it. Israeli forces claim that one of the owner's sons is wanted.

In the three cases of destruction, Israeli occupying forces did not allow residents of the houses to evacuate their belongings.

At approximately 11:00 on Tuesday, 18 March 2003, after an exchange of fire between a Palestinian gunman, 'Ali Mousa Ahmed 'Allan, 28, and Israeli occupying forces in Marah Rabah area, south of Bethlehem, in which 'Allan and an Israeli soldier were killed, Israeli forced broke into the house where 'Allan took shelter, planted explosives inside and destroyed it. Ten people we living in the 1200-square-meter, 3-storey house owned by Ibrahim Yousef Faqih.

An Israeli Military Bulldozer Kills an American Peace Activist in Rafah

On Sunday afternoon, 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist and college student from Olympia, Washington, was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Rachel Corrie and eight of her colleagues from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), five Americans and three British, were trying to stop Israeli occupying forces from bulldozing a number of houses in the al-Salam neighborhood of Rafah.

According to eyewitness reports, at around 16:45, Rachel Corrie was standing in front of a house waving at the driver to stop. She was wearing a bright orange jacket and communicating with the driver through a megaphone. The rest of the ISM group was standing approximately 15-20 meters away from her and were witnesses to the incident. From eyewitness reports, it appears that Rachel walked up the small pile of earth that had been created as the bulldozer advanced towards her. As the bulldozer did not stop, she turned around and as she moved to get away she fell over and was covered by earth as the bulldozer continued to move forward. The bulldozer stopped after a few meters, then raised its plow and reversed. At this point, Rachel again became visible to her colleagues, who had been screaming, shouting and gesturing at the driver to stop the bulldozer. Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli forces did not offer assistance. A Palestinian ambulance arrived shortly after and took Rachel to the Najar Hospital in Rafah where she was pronounced dead.

Rachel Corrie was the first international peace activist to be killed whilst protesting against an Israeli military house demolition operation. However, Rachel's death is only one of the latest killings by Israeli occupying forces of unarmed civilians. During the Intifada, at least 2000 Palestinian have been killed by Israeli occupying forces and settlers. Between the 29th of September 2000 and the 5th of March 2003 a total of 995 houses in the Gaza Strip have been totally demolished by the Israeli military; 225 of these were destroyed in 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 internatio