According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)'s Weekly Report, during the week of 15 – 21 May 2008, 4 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, including one child, and one Palestinian youth was killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank. In addition, a Palestinian child died from previous injuries in Khan Younis town in the southern Gaza Strip. 13 Palestinians, including 4 children and a farmer, were injured by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 27 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Israeli forces abducted 40 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children. To date, the number of Palestinian civilians abducted by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 stands at 1,183.
In addition, Israeli forces at Huwara checkpoint killed a Palestinian youth and then prevented ambulances from reaching him. Israeli forces claimed that a Palestinian in his 20’s approached the checkpoint and was “playing with his clothes”, refused to adhere to Israeli forces orders to stop, which, according to the Israeli forces, forced them to shoot at him. However, PCHR investigations refute these claims. Even according to the Israeli forces account of the shooting, Israeli forces could clearly have used less lethal force and detained the young man.
On Monday 19 May, a Palestinian from Jerusalem was injured after being shot by settler gunfire south of Hebron.
Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, have been denied access to Jerusalem, including occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces have established numerous checkpoints around and inside East Jerusalem. Israeli forces positioned at checkpoints across the West Bank have also continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. During the reporting period, the Israeli forces complete closure of the West Bank. For 26 of the last 32 days, a total closure has been imposed on the West Bank.
In addition, Israeli forces closed the “17” checkpoint north of Nablus from 14-17 May. Israeli forces also closed the road from Nablus to Jenin and Tulkarem, and maintained their presence on the Jeet and Yitzar checkpoints.
Israeli Annexation Wall:
Israeli forces have continued to construct the Annexation Wall inside West Bank territory. During the reporting period, Israeli forces used force against a peaceful demonstration organized by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders in protest to the construction of the Wall in Bil'in village, west of Ramallah, and al-Ma’sara village, south of Bethlehem.
Following the Friday Prayer on 16 May 2008, scores of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders demonstrated in Bil'in village, west of Ramallah, in protest to the construction of the Wall. The demonstrators moved towards the Wall, but Israeli forces closed all gates designed for crossing the Wall. The demonstrators then set fire to tires in protest to the closure of gates. Immediately, Israeli forces fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. As a result, dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Also following the Friday Prayer on 16 May 2008, scores of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders demonstrated in al-Ma’sara village, south of Bethlehem. The demonstrators moved towards Palestinian land which was confiscated by Israeli forces. Israeli forces placed barbwire near the land to prevent the demonstrators from moving forward. When demonstrators came close to the barbed wire, Israeli forces fired tear gas and sound charges at them; and also violently beat a number of demonstrators. As a result, 3 Palestinian civilians, including a journalist and a child, sustained bruises and 5 others suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Israeli settlement activity:
Israeli settlers living in the West Bank have, in violation of international humanitarian law, continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. During the reporting period, PCHR documented four attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and their property in Nablus and Hebron. As a result, one Palestinian was injured by gunfire and a second sustained bruising. In addition, several houses sustained damages from settler attacks.
In one example of the attacks this week, on Monday, 19 May, armed settlers from the Dov Nesher settlement outpost attacked farmers and herders on their land near the outpost. Several Israeli forces soldiers accompanied the settlers to protect them during the attack. The attack resulted in the injury of Emad Ali Rashid (18) with bruises. In additin, Abd El-Mohsin Hasan Rashid was detained. The settlers forced the farmers and herders out of the area.
Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:
During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, including a child and a farmer, in the Gaza Strip; and two other Palestinians died from previous injuries. In addition, Israeli forces wounded 13 Palestinians, including 4 children and a farmer.
On 15 May, a Palestinian died of wounds sustained 11 days earlier during an Israeli forces incursion east of Khan Yunis.
Israeli forces used excessive force on 20 May, killing one child and injuring a second by artillery fire near Beit Lahia. A Palestinian farmer was killed on 20 May, and two other Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces the same day. In addition, two members of the resistance were killed, and three injured, in Gaza City. Four other resistance members were injured in a second attack in the same area earlier in the same day.
On 21 May, Israeli forces injured two children when Israeli forces targeted a vehicle in the northern Gaza Strip. Another civilian was injured by indiscriminate Israeli forces gunfire east of Khan Yunis. Also on 21 May, a child died of wounds sustained on 11 April during an Israeli forces incursion into El-Bureij refugee camp.
Israeli forces conducted 3 incursions into Palestinian communities in the Gaza Strip. During these incursions, Israeli forces razed at least 121 donums of agricultural land. They also abducted three Palestinians.
In addition, Israeli forces started digging a large trench east of Khan Yunis inside the Gaza Strip. The trench extends from El-Farahin area east of Greater Abasan to the town of Khuza’a.
Israeli forces have continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for almost two years. The Israeli siege of Gaza which has tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and has violated the human, economic and social rights of the approximately 1.5 million Palestinian civilian population, particularly their rights to appropriate living conditions, health and education. The siege has also paralyzed the Gazan economy.
Recommendations to the International Community:
Due to the number and severity of violations of international law by Israeli forces this week, the PCHR made a number of recommendations to the international community. Among these was the reiteration 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.