Israeli forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians

August 26th, 2009 | Posted in Palestine
    Palestinian Center for Human Rights, August 13-19, 2009.


    Photo: Palestinian boy holds-up Israeli shell in occupied Palestine.

On 14 August 2009, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats opposite to Rafah beach. As a result, a 12-year-old Palestinian child, who was at the beach, was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the head.

During the reporting period, Israeli forces used force against peaceful demonstrations organized by Palestinian civilians in protest to the construction of the Annexation Wall in the West Bank. A number of demonstrators also suffered from the inhalation of an unknown substance used by Israeli forces in Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes bombarded the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt allegedly to destroy smuggling tunnels.

Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law in the OPT continued during the reporting period

Incursions: During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 26 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Israeli forces arrested 28 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and one woman. Israeli forces also demolished 5 workshops in Qalqilya.

On 18 August 2009, Israeli forces arrested two Palestinian fishers opposite to Rafah seashore. They interrogated the two fishers for several hours and released them later.

Gaza Strip

Israeli forces have continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The Israeli-imposed closure of the Gaza Strip, which has steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.

* 1.5 million people are being denied their basic rights, including freedom of movement, and their rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education.

* The main concern of 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip is to obtain their basic needs of food, medicines, water and electricity supplies.

* Israel has continued to prevent the entry of raw construction materials into the Gaza Strip for more than two years.

* Israel has not allowed fuel supplies into the Gaza Strip, excluding limited amounts of cooking gas, since 10 December 2008.

* The Rafah International Crossing Point has been opened for a few days for a number of patients who received medical treatment abroad and needed to return home to the Gaza Strip.

* Israel has continued to close Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing to Palestinian civilians wishing to travel to the West Bank and Israeli for medical treatment, trade or social visits.

* Poverty and unemployment rates stand at approximately 80% and 60% respectively in the Gaza Strip.

* Israel has continued to prevent the entry of spare parts form water networks and sewage systems. Losses incurred to this sector are estimated at US$ 6 million.

* Israel has imposed additional access restrictions on international diplomats, journalists and humanitarian workers seeking to enter the Gaza Strip. They have prevented representatives of several international humanitarian organizations from entering the Gaza Strip.

* Living conditions of the Palestinian civilian population have seriously deteriorated; levels of poverty and unemployment have sharply mounted.

* At least 900 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been denied family visitation rights for more than two years.

* Israeli forces continued to attack Palestinian fishers along the Gaza Strip coast.

West Bank

Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue to be denied access to Jerusalem.

* Israeli forces have established checkpoints in and around Jerusalem, severely restricting Palestinian access to the city. Civilians are frequently prevented from praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

* There are approximately permanent 630 roadblocks, and manned and unmanned checkpoints across the West Bank. In addition, there are some 60-80 ‘flying’ or temporary checkpoints erected across the West Bank by Israeli forces every week.

* When complete, the illegal Annexation Wall will stretch for 724 kilometers around the West Bank, further isolating the entire population. 350 kilometers of the Wall has already been constructed. Approximately 99% of the Wall has been constructed inside the West Bank itself, further confiscating Palestinian land.

* At least 65% of the main roads that leads to 18 Palestinian communities in the West Bank are closed or fully controlled by Israeli forces (47 out of 72 roads).

* There are around 500 kilometers of restricted roads across the West Bank. In addition, approximately one third of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, is inaccessible to Palestinians without a permit issued by Israeli forces. These permits are extremely difficult to obtain.

* Israeli forces continue to harass, and assault demonstrators who hold peaceful protests against the construction of the Annexation Wall.

* Palestinian civilians continue to be harassed by Israeli forces in Jerusalem, and across the West Bank, including being regularly stopped and searched in the streets by Israeli forces.

* During the reporting period, Israeli troops positioned at military checkpoints in the West Bank arrested 8 Palestinian civilians, including two children and two women.

Efforts intended to establish a Jewish majority in occupied east Jerusalem: Israeli forces have continued arbitrary measures against Palestinian civilians in East Jerusalem to force them to leave the city. On 15 August 2009, Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem organized a peaceful march in solidarity with Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem, whose houses are under threat of confiscation. The Israeli police prevented the march form moving towards the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. On 16 August 2009, dozens of Israeli settlers stormed and seized a 100-square-meter house belonging to ‘Imad Daoud Siam in ‘Ein Hilwa area in Silwan village to the south of the old town of Jerusalem. The settlers claimed that they have documents proving their ownership of the house.

On 17 August 2009, a number of Israeli police officers attacked al-Nazer Gate, one of the gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque, and removed its locks. They replaced the locks with new ones. Soon after, the Palestinian Islamic Endowments Department removed the new lock and put the old ones back. When the police were asked about the incidents, they claimed it happened by mistake. On the same day, Israeli forces conducted a military training to climb fences of the al-Aqsa Mosque using ladders. The training lasted for one hour. Also on the same day, at least 30 Israeli settlers attacked the Hanoun and al-Ghawi families, whose houses in Sheikh Jarrah are under threat of confiscation. When the families and other civilians in the area attempted to stop the attack, Israeli troops attacked them.

Settlement Activities: Israeli forces have continued settlement activities in violation of international humanitarian law and Israeli settlers living in the OPT have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

On 15 August 2009, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders gathered in the north of Safa Village, adjacent to Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron. They moved towards lands under threat of confiscation in the Abu al-Rish area in order to plough the lands and to pick plums and grapes. Israeli troops used force against the protesters and assaulted some of them. An international human rights defender was injured and two others were arrested by Israeli forces.

In Halhoul town, north of Hebron, land owners, the Public Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, and international human rights defenders organized a protest and a voluntary workday on the lands of Kherbet al-Hajj, northwest of Hebron, which are under threat of confiscation. The protesters arrived at the lands adjacent to “Kermi Tsur” settlement, and began to reclaim the lands that were damaged by the Israeli settlers during their latest attacks. Israeli troops chased the protestors and tried to force them to leave the location. They also arrested two international human rights defenders.

On 10 August 2009, Israeli forces moved into Salem village, east of Nablus. They handed written notices to the owners of 9 Palestinian houses to refer to “Beit Eil Court” on 10 September 2009; otherwise, the houses would be demolished. On the same day, the Municipality of Ya’bad village, southwest of Jenin, received a fax from the Palestinian civil liaison, which included a copy of a military order issued by Israeli forces confiscating 116 donums of land in the village allegedly for security necessities. These areas of land are planted with olives and belong to a number of Palestinian villagers.

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