In its weekly summary of Israeli attacks for the week of 17 – 23 July 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli attacks in the West Bank:
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 32 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces abducted 80 Palestinian civilians, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. In Nablus alone, Israeli forces abducted 74 Palestinian civilians. Israeli forces also abducted the father of a young girl who filmed an Israeli soldier firing at Palestinian civilian in Ne;lin village, west of Ramallah, on 7 July. The number of Palestinian civilians who have been abducted by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of this year now stands at 1,628. For the second consecutive week, Israeli forces have continued their campaign against Palestinian civil institutions. During the reporting period, Israeli forces raided and searched a charity and a kindergarten in Jericho. They confiscated computers and documents.
Since the Egypt-brokered truce between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel entered into force in the Gaza Strip on 19 June 2008, Israeli forces have escalated attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the West Bank. This escalation led the Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayad, to suspend the security plan being implemented by the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank. Dr. Fayad stated in a press conference in Ramallah on Tuesday, 22 July 2008, that “The Palestinian National Authority may suspend the security plan it is implementing in Palestinian town due to the escalation of Israeli attacks.”
On 17 July 2008, Israeli forces wounded 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, during an incursion into Nablus and neighboring refugee camps.
Contrary to Israeli claims of easing restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians, 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. Israeli forces have established many checkpoints around and inside the city. Restrictions of the movement of Palestinian civilians often escalate on Fridays to prevent them from praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli forces often violently assault Palestinian civilians who attempt to bypass checkpoints and enter the city. Israeli forces have also tightened the siege imposed on Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 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.
Israeli Annexation Wall:
During the reporting period, dozens of Palestinian civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces used force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized in protest to the construction of the Annexation Wall in Bal’ein and Ne’lin villages, west of Ramallah. In the same context, a footage filmed by a young Palestinian girl in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah, on 7 July, which appeared on the screen of several television channels, showed an Israeli soldier firing a rubber-coated metal bullet, at extremely short range, at a Palestinian detainee who was cuffed and blindfolded.
Following the Friday Prayer on 18 July, scores of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders demonstrated in Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah, in protest at 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 also suffered from tear gas inhalation.
On Friday noon, 18 July, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders gathered in the center of Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah. They moved towards the area where Israeli forces were razing land to construct a section of the Wall in the village. 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.
On Sunday morning, 20 July, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders gathered in the center of Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah. They moved towards the area where Israeli forces were razing land to construct a section of the Wall in the village. 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.
Footage filmed by a young Palestinian girl in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah, on 7 July, which appeared on the screen of several television channels, showed an Israeli soldier firing a rubber-coated metal bullet, at extremely short range, at a Palestinian detainee who was cuffed and blindfolded.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, on Monday, 7 July, about 50 Palestinian civilians from Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah, and international and Israeli human rights defenders, headed towards Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah, to support residents of the village who were under a curfew imposed by Israeli forces. Israeli forces used force to disperse them and abducted 2, including Ashraf Ibrahim Abu Rhma, 27. Israeli forces detained the two for several hours. While detaining Abu Rahma, an Israeli forces soldiers fired a rubber-coated metal bullet from about one meter away at his foot. Abu Rahma, who is known in his village as al-Dabe’ (hyena) has become a popular local figure as he is the only person who spends nights in a room built by the Palestinian Public Committee against the Wall behind the Wall. Israeli forces have repeatedly threatened him. He was wounded twice and has also been abducted twice in the past 3 years.
In his testimony to PCHR, Ashraf Abu Rahma stated:
“At approximately 11:00 on Monday, 7 July, I was one in a group of residents of Bal’ein village and international and Israeli solidarity activists who headed towards Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah. When we arrived at al-Muhallal area in the east of Ne’lin village, 4 military jeeps chased us. Two soldiers from each jeep got out and fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs at us. We fled and the soldiers chased us. They abducted me and Bassel Mansour, 31, and placed us in separate jeeps. Once the jeep in which they placed moved, the soldiers violently beat me. Later, they took me out of the jeep and handcuffed and blindfolded me. They left me exposed to the hot sun. At approximately 14:00, a soldier made me stand up. I heard soldiers saying “goomi”, a Hebrew word which means rubber. I then heard and explosion between my feet. I fell down not knowing what happened to me. Two minutes later, they untied my hands unfolded my eyes. I looked at my left foot. My thumb was swollen and blue. An hour later, they released me after having threatened to send me to hell next time.”
Israeli settlement activities:
Israeli forces have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attacks Palestinian civilians and property. Israeli settlers launched 5 attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in Hebron and Qalqilya.
On Thursday evening, 17, Israeli settlers living in “Kiryat Arba” settlement and al-Rujbi building in al-Ras neighborhood, southeast of Hebron, renewed their attempt to seize a tract of land belonging to Mahmoud al-Bouti Jaber in Wad al-Nassara neighborhood. The settlers stormed the land in the presence of Israeli forces, and set up tents. Israeli forces reinforced their presence in the area and prevented Palestinian civilians from getting close to the seized land.
On Friday evening, 18 July, Israeli forces positioned in the vicinity of “Sousia” settlement, south of Hebron, abducted Mahmoud Mohammed al-Nawaj’a, 27, in response to a request by Israeli settlers. According to al-Nawaj’a’s brother, Israeli forces, accompanied by settlers, raided the family’s land and abducted his brother, in response to a request by Israeli settlers.
At approximately 18:00 on Monday, 21 July, Israeli settlers from “Gilad” settlement, east of Qalqilya, set fire to olive fields in Wad Abu al-Joud area between Ematin and Far’ata villages, northeast of Qalqilya. According to Palestinian farmers, Israeli settlers fired at them to prevent them from extinguishing fire. Later, Israeli forces arrived at the area and fired tear gas canisters, sound bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets at Palestinian civilians. A number of civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Late in the evening on the same day, Israeli settlers from “Kiryat Arba” settlement, southeast of Hebron, attacked Palestinian houses in Wadi al-Nassara neighborhood, using stones and empty bottles. A number of houses were damaged. The settlers also attempted to break into a house belonging to attorney Munther Shukri Da’na.
Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:
On 23 July, at approximately 10:45, Israeli forces positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel north of Beit Hanoun town fired at Mohammed ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Hamdan, 22, from Beit Hanoun. He was wounded by a gunshot to the right leg. Hamdan was collecting scrap metal almost 300 meters away from the border, when Israeli forces fired at him. This attack is the sixth of its kind since the Egypt-brokered truce between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel entered into force on 19 June 2008.
Israeli forces have continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The Israeli forces 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. In addition, the siege has severely impacted the flow of food, medical supplies and other necessities such as fuel, construction materials and raw materials for various economic sectors. Israeli forces have continued to prevent the entry of raw materials into the Gaza Strip, and many factories have been forced to close. Severe restrictions have been imposed on the movement of the entire Palestinian civilian population. Regarding civilian movements, Israeli forces permit very few Palestinian civilians to pass through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in order to travel to the West Bank or Israel. Rafah International Crossing Point in the southern Gaza Strip is the sole outlet for the Gaza Strip to the outside world via a country other than Israel.
The continued Israeli ban on fuel supplies required for civilian life in the Gaza Strip has led to the near paralysis of the educational sector. In addition, the health sector is on the verge of collapse due to the stoppage of many ambulances from operating for lack of fuel. Healthcare facilities have registered a 25% drop in clients due to the transport crisis, and hundreds of healthcare professionals have been unable to reach their work places. Furthermore, the transportation sector has almost ceased functioning throughout the Gaza Strip, resulting in massively reduced essential services, including the delivery of drinking water delivery, sewage water disposal, and garbage collection.
During the reporting period, the Egypt-brokered truces between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel continued. Under the agreement, the Israeli forces imposed siege of the Gaza Strip is apparently to be eased gradually. However, no tangible change has been noticed with regard to the movement of persons and goods, excluding the increase in the number of containers of foods and humanitarian aid allowed into the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces are allowing a very limited number of seriously ill patients and staff of international organizations to pass through Beit Hanoun (Erez) checkpoint. Israeli forces have however prevented families of at least 900 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails from visiting them since 6 June 2007.
The tightened siege has led to the collapse of the Gaza Strip economic sectors. Most production facilities have ceased to operate due to the siege and restriction on movement of goods and individuals.
Recommendations to the International Community:
Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights made a number of recommendations to the international community. Among these were a recommendation that the international community 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.
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.
For the full text of the report, click on the link below: