According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)'s Weekly Report, during the week of 24- 30 January 2008, 6 Palestinians were killed and 13 were injured by the Israeli military. In addition, 4 international and Israeli human rights defenders were wounded by Israeli forces this week. Â Of those killed, one was a child. Four of the deceased were killed by extrajudicial assassination, in direct violation of international law.
Israeli attacks in the West Bank:
Israeli forces conducted 26 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those invasions, the troops killed two Palestinians. Troops abducted 42 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children. In addition, Israeli troops positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank abducted at least 11 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children.
On 24 January, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 3 others in Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron. Israeli forces moved into the village in order to arrest the fathers of 2 Palestinians who had been killed the previous day by Israeli settlers, allegedly because the fathers attempted to launch an armed reprisal attack.
Israeli forces also injured another two civilians during the funeral procession of one of the Palestinians who was killed by settlers. On 28 January, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child and injured 5 civilians in Bethlehem. Israeli forces moved into the town in order to arrest an activist of Islamic Jihad. They opened fired indiscriminately. At approximately 14:50, Israeli forces moved into Ma’ali neighborhood in the center of Bethlehem. They besieged a 3-storey house belonging to ‘Eissa ‘Aabda, 70. They raided a number of neighboring houses and forced their residents out. They threatened to destroy ‘Abada’s house. They forced its residents out. They then called on Mohammed ‘Eissa ‘Aabda, 42, a member of the Islamic Jihad, to get out and surrender. Israeli troops opened fire at the house and prevented journalists from reaching the area.
As a result of the Israeli gunfire, Qussai Suleiman Mohammed al-Afandi, 16, from al-Duhaisha refugee camp, was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the abdomen. He was evacuated to Beit Jala Hospital, but medical efforts to save his life failed. According to the child’s uncle, the child was on his way to his father’s shop when he was shot. Another 5 civilians were also wounded. At approximately 17:00, Israeli troops started to shell ‘Aabda’s house. They also brought a bulldozer to the area, which started to demolish the fence. At approximately 19:20, Israeli forces abducted Mohammed ‘Eissa ‘Aabda. Israeli forces had already ‘Aabda’s brother Mousa. During this military operation, Israeli troops detained a number of journalists in a shop and prevented them from reporting on the operation.
Israeli forces positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. Israeli forces also erected more checkpoints on the main roads and intersections in the West Bank.
In one example of the daily invasions and abductions, on 29 January, at approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved in Shwaika suburb, north of Tulkarm. They raided and searched a number of houses and abducted Lu’ai ‘Abdul Fattah Mustafa, 30, a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces. Also at approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Nour Shams refugee camp, east of Tulkarm. They raided and searched a number of houses and abducted ‘Ali Yousef Fouda, 22. At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Kufor Qallil village, southeast of Nablus. They raided and searched a number of houses and abducted ‘Odai Nasser Mansour, 16. Also at approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Balata refugee camp. They raided and searched a number of houses and abducted Jamal Mohammed Harb, 28. At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Bireh, near Ramallah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Samer Nemer Hassarna, 48, Head of the Academic Council of Rashed Al Maktoum School, and representative of the Qatari Red Crescent in Palestine.
Israeli settlement activities:
Israeli forces have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attacks Palestinian civilians and property.
An Israeli settlement outpost to the north of Hebron was expanded. On Thursday, 24 January 2008, Israeli troops, in cooperation with Israeli settlers, added 5 mobile homes to a settlement outpost located to the west of “Karmi Tsur” settlement, north of Hebron. The mobile homes were placed on a tract of land belonging to the Abu Yousef clan in Halhoul town, north of Hebron.
Israeli Annexation Wall:
Three Palestinian civilians and 4 international and Israeli human rights defenders were injured when Israeli forces used force to disperse a peaceful demonstration organized in protest at the construction of the Annexation Wall in Bil’in village, west of Ramallah. Israeli forces have continued to construct the Annexation Wall inside West Bank territory.
Following the Friday Prayer on 25 January 2008, scores of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders demonstrated in Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah, in protest to the construction of the Wall. Israeli troops had placed barbwires in the area to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the Wall. The demonstrators attempted to move forward. Immediately, Israeli troops fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators, and violently beat them. As a result, 7 demonstrators were wounded. Four international activists were abducted by Israeli forces.
Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:
Israeli forces have continued to impose a total siege on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian newspapers have not been allowed into the Gaza Strip for the 2nd consecutive week. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed 4 Palestinians. In addition, one Palestinian was injured.
On 25 January, Israeli forces extra-judicially executed 4 members of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) in 2 separate attacks within a few hours in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. A fifth brigade member was seriously injured.
To date, Israeli forces have closed all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for almost 18 months continuously. The total siege imposed by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and has violated the economic and social rights of the Palestinian civilian population, particularly their 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. The siege of 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. During the reporting period, Israeli forces cut off food and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip.
As a result of the Israel's economic and humanitarian stranglehold on the Gaza Strip, on 23 January, hundreds of thousands of Gazans poured crossed the border into Egypt after Palestinian resistance activists blew up entire sections of the fortified border in Rafah. In addition to residents of Gaza crossing into Egypt en masse, hundreds of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who had been stranded in Egypt, due to the enforced closure of Rafah International Crossing Point, also returned home to Gaza. The Egyptian authorities responded positively and with restraint, allowing Palestinian civilians to purchase foods, medicines, and other supplies which are not available in Gaza due to the escalating Israeli forces siege and closure of the Gaza Strip. However, opening the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip did not meet all the basic needs of the civilian population of Gaza. Civilians across the Gaza Strip still suffer from severe shortages, or total unavailability, of many essential items, including domestic fuel and industrial fuel for Gaza's single power plant.
In addition, hundreds of students, patients and Gazans living abroad remain in effective limbo; many have been waiting for permission to leave the Gaza Strip legally since June 2007. PCHR has learned that approximately 1,500 Gazans have gathered in the Egyptian town of al-Arish, and have asked the Egyptian authorities to allow them to travel via Cairo to third countries, where they can pursue their work, study or medical treatment. They are currently awaiting an official decision from the Egyptian authorities.
PCHR reiterates its position that the chaos on the Rafah border during the past week is an inevitable consequence arising from the Israeli forces siege and closure of the entire Gaza Strip. The Israeli forces have deliberately deprived the entire civilian population of the Gaza Strip of their human right to safe movement and unrestricted travel. In addition, the closure has prevented essential goods and medicines reaching the civilian population. PCHR notes that Israeli forces have tightened the closure of the Gaza Strip since June, 2007. Since then, all border crossings into and out of Gaza have been effectively sealed, including the Rafah Crossing.
Among other recommendations, the 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.
In addition, the 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 occupied Palestinian Territories.