AI Index MDE 15/027/2002 - News Service Nr. 56
Embargoed for :  02/04/2002 09:00 GMT
Statement to the UN Commission on Human Rights, Israel and Occupied  Territories

Commission on Human Rights, 58th Session, 18 March - 26 April 2002
Agenda item 8: Question of the violation of human rights in the
occupied Arab territories, including Palestine

Tuesday 2 April 2002
In the recent negotiations for a ceasefire in Israel and the Occupied
Territories there has been much mention of "security", little or none
of human rights. Yet human rights are at the heart of this conflict
and if human rights are not firmly on the agenda of the ceasefire
talks there can be no durable ceasefire and no sustainable peace.
Palestinians and Israelis will continue to be slaughtered in the
alleyways of refugee camps and the streets of Israeli towns.

        Armed Palestinians have breached fundamental principles of
international humanitarian law on numerous occasions. It is not
acceptable to deliberately target civilians, to let off a bomb where
women and children are standing, to shoot a girl on a street, to
arbitrarily target cars on roads or to kill people who are held as
These actions are shocking. Yet they can never justify the human
rights violations and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions which,
over the past 18 months, have been committed daily, hourly, even
every minute, by the Israeli authorities against Palestinians.
Israeli forces have consistently carried out killings when no lives
were in danger. The Israeli authorities' failure to carry out proper
investigations into unlawful killings sends the message that
Palestinian lives are cheap. More than 600 Palestinian homes have
been systematically demolished, making thousands homeless, the vast
majority children. More than 100 checkpoints throughout the West Bank
and Gaza have not stopped suicide bombings. The closures of towns and
villages deny freedom of movement and appear to be set up to harass,
collectively punish, intimidate and humiliate the Palestinian people.
Two weeks ago Amnesty International delegates investigated the
Israeli army's recent attacks on towns, including refugee camps. In
each instance tanks had entered the area, rolling over cars, running
over walls, breaking down house and shop fronts. Heavy fire was used
against densely-populated residential areas.  Homes  of  the families
of "wanted" men or suicide bombers were blown up, causing severe
structural damage to houses all around.
In the camps curfews were imposed and electricity, water and
telephones cut off for up to nine days. In several camps male
Palestinians between 15 and 45 were ordered to report to an assembly
point and hundreds were arrested. For the first 24 hours they were
handcuffed, blindfolded, given no food, no blanket, and not allowed
to go to the toilet.  Ten days afterwards about 100 of more than
2,500 arbitrarily arrested remained in detention. Again, in treatment
apparently intended to hurt and degrade the population, Israeli
soldiers who occupied apartments had systematically trashed them:
clothes were torn, cupboards emptied on the floor, TV sets hurled
down stairs, and a copy of the Qur'an was torn into pieces and
scattered on the floor. An independent military advisor, one of
Amnesty International's delegates, said: "Either the Israeli army is
totally undisciplined or they have been ordered to disobey the law s
of war".

This language would have been even stronger if we were describing the
present incursions.
During the incursions the IDF unlawfully killed six medical aid
workers, including two doctors. Ambulances, including those of the
ICRC, have been consistently shot at. Such attacks on the fundamental
principle of medical neutrality are flagrant violations of the Geneva
Conventions. The director of the Red Crescent at Tulkarem told
delegates that it was now safer to transport patients by taxi than by
the Commission on Human Rights must send a strong message to all
governments involved in the peace process that human rights can not
be neglected. It is more than a year since the findings of the UN
Commission of Inquiry called for urgent deployment of international
human rights monitors. With more than 1,000 Palestinians and more
than 300 Israelis killed, including hundreds of Palestinian and
Israeli children, it is now clearer than ever that the paralysis of
the international community in delaying the setting up of such
protection is sacrificing the lives and human rights of Palestinians
and the lives of Israelis. Amnesty International urges members of the
Commission to make every effort to reach a consensus on all
resolutions.  Security can only be achieved through full respect for
human  rights, not at their expense.
public document
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