Israeli Human Rights organization

From: Sandra Olewine [mailto:solewine@compuserve.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 07, 2000 4:53 AM

Dear Friends,

B'Tselem, one of the finest Israeli Human Rights organizations, has just
completed a report on human rights violations in the Occupied Territories
over the last two months.  The full 40-page report can be obtained on their
web site, www.btselem.org.  However, below is the summary statement which
they released yesterday.

The full report is worth reading and making available to study groups,
congregations and media resources. No doubt people from both communities
will find disagreements with details, descriptions and language.  But, I
believe it is a good starting point for discussion and understanding.

I hope you find it helpful as you continue to pray and work for a just and
sustainable peace in this region.


Rev. Sandra Olewine
United Methodist Liaison - Jerusalem


Illusions of Restraint

B'Tselem has completed research and fieldwork and is releasing a report
addressing human rights violations in the Occupied Territories over the
past two months. The report concludes that, in spite of claims to the
contrary, Israel has not adopted a policy of restraint in its response to
events in the Occupied Territories.

This report, like the report addressing events on the Temple Mount on
September 29, constitutes one in a series of reports addressing human
rights during the "Al-Aqsa Intifada." The report is devoted primarily to
the issue of the use of force by the IDF and the Palestinian Authority,
attacks on medical teams and journalists, and restrictions imposed on them.
In addition, the report touches on restrictions on freedom of movement and
settler violence. B'Tselem will produce separate reports addressing these
two issues more comprehensively.

Since the beginning of these events on September 29, until December 2, 264
people were killed in the Occupied Territories, and over 10,000 were

  a.. 204 Palestinian civilians were killed by IDF forces, of them 73
minors aged 17 and under.

  b.. 24 members of the Palestinian security forces were killed by IDF

  c.. 4 foreign nationals were killed by IDF forces.

  d.. 3 Palestinian civilians (at least) were killed by Israeli settlers.

  e.. 13 Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinian civilians.

  f.. 11 members of the Israeli security forces were killed by Palestinian

  g.. 5 members of the Israeli security forces were killed by members of
the Palestinian security forces.

The principle findings of B'Tselem's report are as follows:

  a.. Israel uses excessive and disproportionate force in dispersing
demonstrations of unarmed Palestinians;

  b.. Israel did not develop non-lethal methods to disperse demonstrations
or train its soldiers to confront such demonstrations. This in spite of the
fact that Israel was prepared for the events of the past few weeks. As a
result, soldiers only had at their disposal rubber-coated metal bullets and
live ammunition, which caused many Palestinian casualties, and many
injuries to medical teams and journalists.

  c.. Collective punishment, in the form of Israel's severe restrictions on
Palestinians' movement in the Occupied Territories, makes life unbearable
for hundreds of thousands with no justification. These restrictions are
also imposed on medical teams and ambulances.

  d.. Curfew is imposed on tens of thousands of people for the convenience
of settlers (in Hebron, Hawara and Silat a-Daher), constituting blatant
discrimination. Such a severe injury to a large population, for the welfare
of another population, represents a grave human rights violation.

  e.. Over the past few weeks there have been many incidents of settler
attacks on Palestinians. In some of these incidents, IDF soldiers were
present but did nothing to protect Palestinians, as they are obliged to do
as the occupying force. This phenomenon is not new, and B'Tselem has warned
in the past that Israeli authorities do not take sufficient measures to end
this phenomenon.

  f.. The Palestinian Authority does not make serious efforts to prevent
children from participating in demonstrations, in spite of the grave

  g.. The Palestinian Authority does almost nothing to prevent Palestinians
from attacking Israeli civilians. The establishment of settlements is a
violation of international law and therefore illegal; however, this does
not justify attacks on settlers or on settlements. Intentional attacks on
civilians are absolutely prohibited, regardless of the circumstances.

  h.. The Palestinian Authority does not prevent armed Palestinians from
shooting from within populated areas, thereby exposing its civilian
population to the IDF's response.

  i.. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority prevent journalists from
freely covering the events, thereby restricting freedom of speech. This is
done in various ways, including physical attacks and property damage.

In light of B'Tselem's findings, and the scope of the events, B'Tselem
calls for the establishment of an independent and professional,
international commission of inquiry to examine these events. Only such a
commission can conduct a serious investigation of all human rights
violations that have taken place in the past weeks.