Received, NMay 6, 2002
Amnesty International
The Wire
May  2002


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
humanitarian law.

Jenin

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
in Jenin.

                                 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.

                                 Closures

                                 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
                                 death.

                                 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.

                                 Peace

                                 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.