For immediate release
20 October 2001

ref: 0026/01

ISRAELI SIEGE CONTINUES:

Two Palestinian Children Killed, Tens Wounded

DCI/PS views with extreme concern the gross deterioration in the human
rights situation on the ground resulting from the ongoing Israeli invasions
into Palestinian cities and villages. Beginning Thursday, 18 October,
Israeli military forces have launched an unprecedented military attack
against Palestinian areas throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The
affects of the siege on the Palestinian civilian population have been
extensive.

Two Palestinian children have been killed and tens wounded. In addition,
hundreds of children have been exposed to repeated violent attacks against
their communities from Israeli live ammunition and tank fire. Moreover,
hundreds of school children have been prevented from attending schools that
lie in areas now occupied by Israeli military forces. The most recent child
deaths bring the total of Palestinian children killed since September 2000
to 163.

On 18 October 2001, 10-year old Riham Nabeel Ward was killed by live
ammunition to the chest while attending school in the German Area, Jenin.
According to DCI/PS sources in Jenin, Riham and other students of the
Shahidayn Al Ibrahmiyyeh Basic Girls School arrived for class in the
morning and found Israeli tanks and soldiers positioned near the school
following an Israeli incursion into the area the previous night. Israeli
soldiers opened fire while the students were attempting to take cover on
the floor of one of the classrooms. Riham died in her older sister's arms
while five other students and a teacher were also injured.

Basil Saleem Mohammed Al-Mubasher, 14 years old from Khan Yunis, was killed
by an Israeli tank-shell that landed near his house following Israeli
shelling of residential areas during the night of 18 October. Basil
discovered the unexploded shell the following morning and was killed when
it exploded. Basil is the second Palestinian child to have been killed by
unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the year
2001. Additionally, six children have sustained injuries from UXO
explosions.

The deaths of these two children fully demonstrate the consequences of
Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the
devastating effects of the continuing attacks against the Palestinian
civilian population. Backed by war planes and helicopters, Israeli tanks
and soldiers have surrounded and entered almost every major Palestinian
area in the occupied territories over the last three days. These invasions
have left whole swathes of Palestinian residential areas under the direct
occupation of Israeli forces and have led to the deaths of at least 18
Palestinians. As is to be expected, Palestinian children - as the most
vulnerable group within Palestinian society - have borne the brunt of these
attacks.

These attacks have been the latest show of force in what has been an
ongoing siege against the Palestinian civilian population of the Occupied
Palestinian Territories. While the Israeli government has argued that these
military operations are in response to the assassination of Israeli
Minister of Tourism, Rehavam Ze'evi on Wednesday, 17 October 2001, DCI/PS
urges the international community to bear in mind that attacks against
civilian populations are illegal under international law.  In particular,
article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of
Civilian Persons in Time of War prohibits the implementation of collective
punishment or reprisals against protected persons and their property.
DCI/PS also urges the international community to bear in mind that over 67
Palestinians have been killed in the last year as a direct result of
Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders and
activists.

Throughout the past year, Israel military offensives against Palestinian
civilians and their communities have been cloaked in terms of "defensive"
or "security" actions in a tit for tat diatribe that seemingly has neither
a beginning nor an end.  What has not been adequately addressed is the
ever-present reality of Israeli occupation of Palestinian areas.

The Israeli occupation is a complete system of control that permeates every
aspect of Palestinian life. Palestinian society has been encircled, beaten
and strangled by this occupation for over 30 years. The years since the
signing of the Oslo Accords have seen the acceleration of this occupation
despite the illusion of sovereignty given by formal Israeli redeployment
from Palestinian cities.

What the last year has demonstrated clearly is the ever-present reality of
the occupation. As soon as the Intifada began it became clear that Israel's
control over the Palestinian economy, land and people had never been
relinquished. Palestinian "sovereignty" was always contingent on accepting
the hidden-logic of this occupation. Following the beginning of the Israeli
siege, the Palestinian poverty rate increased dramatically with
approximately half the population living on around US$2/day.  Palestinian
education has been severely impaired in the face of restrictions on
movement and the attacks on schools. Palestinians are unable to move
outside the few square kilometers of their towns and villages.

As has been noted extensively by DCI/PS, these practices required little
preparation or planning by the Israeli government. In a sense they were
always present, they just needed to be activated. There has been no
"reoccupation" of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the occupation had never
been removed in the first place. The form of occupation may have changed
but the content has remained the same. It is this reality that must be
considered and addressed if any truly positive developments in the
negotiations process are to occur.

In light of the above and the escalation of events in the past three days,
DCI/PS urges the international community to immediate call for a complete
cessation of the Israeli attack on Palestinian cities and villages and an
end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.  Faxes/emails should be
directed towards the following individuals:

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
pm@gov.il
FAX: +972 2 566 4838

Israeli Ministry of Defense Binyamin Ben Eliezer
Fax: (+972 3) 691 6940

EU President Romano Prodi
Presidentsregister@cec.eu.int

US President George Bush
president@whitehouse.gov

-END-

Defence for Children International/Palestine Section
is an independent, Palestinian non-governmental
organization, established in 1992 to promote and
protect the rights of Palestinian children as articulated
in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well
as in other international instruments.

DCI/PS, P.O. Box 55201, Jerusalem
Tel:   +972 2 240 7530
Fax:   +972 2 240 7018
(Note: please try and use +970, if the above country code does not work)
Email:   dcipal@palnet.com
Website:  www.dci-pal.org