The heavy price of Israeli incursions
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have shown
widespread disregard for life, law and property in
their incursions into towns and villages in the West
Bank and Gaza. AI has condemned the horrific human
rights abuses committed in Israel and the Occupied
Territories and has renewed its call on the
international community to take immediate action.
AI delegates who visited five refugee camps in March
saw a trail of destruction: homes, shops and
infrastructure demolished or damaged; apartments
trashed and looted; cars crushed and lamp-posts,
walls and shopfronts smashed. Actions taken by the
IDF often had no clear or obvious military necessity;
many of these, such as unlawful killings, destruction
of property and arbitrary detention, torture and
ill-treatment, violated international human rights and
In mid-April, AI delegates managed to reach Jenin.
They interviewed scores of refugees who described
massive bombardments with missiles from Apache
helicopters, houses crumbling or being bulldozed with
people still inside, and mass arrests accompanied by
inhuman and degrading treatment as detainees had
to squat handcuffed and blindfold for hours without
food or water. On 16 April AI called on the UN
Security Council to immediately deploy an
independent investigation into human rights abuses
Since 27 February 2002 the IDF have launched two waves of incursions into
the Palestinian areas
occupied by Israel in 1967, using tanks, armoured
personnel carriers and Apache helicopters.
The first incursions were ended by a partial Israeli pull back
after the arrival of US envoy Anthony Zinni on 14 March.
However, a second wave started on 29 March 2002
with an attack on President Yasser Arafat's
headquarters in Ramallah. The IDF spread through
West Bank towns and villages, declaring them closed
military areas. People from outside the invaded
areas, including journalists, UN agencies, other
humanitarian workers and diplomats, were prevented
from gaining access to offer aid or report on what
was going on.
In the six weeks to 11 April 2002, hundreds of
Palestinians were killed, many unlawfully, and
thousands injured. More than 4,000 were in
detention, including hundreds in administrative
detention. Reports of unlawful killings by the IDF,
especially from Jenin and Nablus, continue at the
time of writing.
The declared aim of the incursions was to "destroy
the terrorist infrastructure" and the IDF have killed
and wounded armed Palestinians. But they have also
killed and targeted medical personnel and
journalists, and have fired randomly at houses and
people in the streets. Mass arbitrary arrests have
been carried out in a manner designed to degrade
those detained. Ambulances have been prevented
from reaching the injured and AI has received many
eyewitness reports of people being left to bleed to
AI unreservedly condemns the deliberate targeting of
civilians by Palestinian armed groups, but no abuses
can justify Israel's gross violations of human rights
and humanitarian law.
There is no hope of a durable peace in the region
unless it is based on the human rights of all. As a
first sign of concrete commitment, international
observers must be deployed in the region.
Moreover, all transfers of the arms used to abuse
human rights should be immediately suspended and
Israeli military units implicated in human rights
abuses should be barred from receiving military
assistance or training from other countries, including
the USA, Israel's main supplier of military aid.
The international community cannot turn its back on
the suffering of thousands of men, women and
children both on the Palestinian and the Israeli side.
Human rights observers may be a means to save the
lives of both Palestinians and Israelis.
For further information, see: Israel and the Occupied
Territories: The heavy price of Israeli incursions AI
Index: MDE 15/042/2002.