Wednesday May 30, 7:10 PM

Amnesty says Israel used "excessive lethal force" against Palestinians

LONDON, May 30 (AFP) -
Israeli forces killed 300 Palestinians last year, most of them "unlawfully"
during the intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation, and used
"excessive lethal force," Amnesty International charged Wednesday.

In its report on global human rights in 2000, Amnesty said Israeli security
services also wounded more than 10,000 Palestinians.

The majority of the dead and wounded were demonstrators throwing stones or
using slings, Amnesty said, with at least 100 of those killed being children
under the age of 18.

The Israelis "used excessive lethal force, firing rubber-coated metal
bullets and live ammunition, including high-velocity bullets at
demonstrators," the report said, and "deliberately targeted and
extrajudicially executed" some Palestinians.

The report also said the Israeli air force and navy used "heavy weaponry,
including helicopter gunships, tanks and naval vessels, to shell randomly
Palestinian areas" from which gunfire had come.

The Palestinians also came under scrutiny, with Amnesty noting that
paramilitary groups linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had carried
out attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the occupied territories.

It said armed opposition groups, such as Islamic Jihad, had placed bombs
that killed 16 Israeli citizens.

Amnesty said its members from around the world had called for the killings
to stop and for the investigation of those that had occurred.

However, by year-end, "not a single killing had been properly investigated,
and few autopsies had been conducted by either side to determine how
individuals had been killed."

Amnesty reiterated its call for an international investigation into serious
rights abuses in both Israel and the occupied territories, including areas
under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.

In just about every other way, Amnesty's report on the Middle East could
have been a carbon copy of the one written a year earlier, just changing
dates and numbers.

The catalogue of abuses and abusers was unchanged, and the picture was one
of hundreds of people tortured and summarily executed, and thousands of
others held without charge or trial in inhumane conditions.

Iraq was cited again for executing hundreds of political prisoners and for
the disappearance of hundreds of others suspected of planning to overthrow
the government.

It was also slammed for the forcible expulsion of non-Arabs, mostly Kurds,
from their homes in the Kirkuk area of the country to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Saudi Arabia continued to be singled out for its "severe discrimination"
against women and its arbitrary arrest and conviction of political activists
under "secretive" procedures.

The Saudi government also continued to enforce a ban on political parties
and trade unions and to impose restrictions on access to the country by
non-governmental human rights organizations.

Kuwait was also cited for discriminating against women, with a campaign to
secure women's voting rights having suffered a severe setback from the

Iran drew fire not only for continuing to hold political prisoners in its
jails and of conducting unfair trials, but also for a clamp-down on freedom
of expression, with the closure of at least 30 publications and the arrest
and imprisonment of numerous journalists.

Syria was cited for the hundreds of political prisoners still held in its
jails and for the fact that the fate of hundreds of others who disappeared
in the 1970s and 1980s was still unknown.

However, Amnesty noted that hundreds of other political prisoners in Syria,
including prisoners of conscience, were released last year, mostly as the
result of a presidential amnesty in November.

Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Egypt continued to be widespread,
Amnesty said. And while hundreds of suspected supporters of banned Islamist
groups were released last year, thousands of others, including possible
prisoners of conscience, remained held without charge or trial.

The report also criticised Lebanon for its summary trials by military courts
of hundreds of former members of the Israeli-proxy militia, the South
Lebanon Army, saying those trials had fallen short of international