Amnesty International, the renowned human rights group, has slammed the actions of the Israeli administration in the Palestinian Territories throughout 2006, stating that “Palestinians in the Occupied Territories suffered wide-ranging human rights abuses and humanitarian conditions deteriorated significantly due to military and punitive economic actions by Israel, cuts in international aid and growing violence between rival Palestinian political factions.”
The organization’s 2006 report notes that the number of Palestinians killed increased threefold in comparison with 2005, with a total of 650 dying as a direct result of Israeli military action, over half of whom were civilians. In the same period, 27 Israelis were killed by armed Palestinian groups, of whom 21 were civilians.
The report also highlighted the deteriorating economic and social conditions in the Palestinian territories, citing Israel’s continued withholding of PA-owned money and the internationally-approved financial embargo placed on the national unity government as factors that have crippled the ability of the PA to pay its employees and provide the residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip with the most basic of human rights.
“Conditions for Palestinians in the OPT deteriorated throughout the year. Their economic situation was hit hard by Israel's confiscation of import tax duties… [and] by the cut in aid to the PA government by international donors […].The measures left the PA government, the largest employer in the OPT, unable to pay salaries or deliver health, education and other key services to three and a half million Palestinians.”
Amnesty reports that the already appalling situation was further exacerbated by Israeli attacks that deliberately targeted the Palestinian infrastructure. In addition to attacking bridges, roads, water networks, sewage networks and destroying various homes throughout the Occupied Territories and in the East Jerusalem area, an Israeli attack also severely damaged the only power plant in the Gaza Strip, cutting off the electricity supply to a great number of residents in the region.
In addition to producing the report, representatives of the organization, including the Secretary General Irene Khan, visited the West Bank and Gaza Strip, meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas and representatives of the Hamas-led unity government to discuss the ongoing human rights abuses and lawlessness within the Palestinian territories.
The Secretary General also met with the Israeli administration and urged them “to take concrete measures to end impunity and address continuing human rights abuses,” calling also for “investigations and reparations for victims of violations during the Hezbollah-Israel war.”