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Killin and Destruction in Israel and the Occupied Territories

The situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories continues to be one of the most discussed but least acted on.

Killings and destruction have escalated in the past year with frequent bombardments, shelling and shooting by the Israeli army into densely populated Palestinian refugee camps and residential areas. Recurring suicide bombings and shooting attacks by Palestinian armed groups against Israeli civilians also plague the area. Numerous human rights organizations have condemned these grave abuses by both sides.

In the past two and a half years the killing of about 2,000 Palestinians, including 350 children, and the destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes and large areas of agricultural land has failed to give any more security to Israel. On the contrary, these violations have fueled the spiral of violence.

Curfews and closures have confined millions of Palestinian children and adults to virtual house or town arrest. However, these measures have not prevented armed Palestinian groups from carrying out suicide bombings and other attacks which have killed at least 700 Israelis, most of them civilians and including an estimated 90 children.

These sweeping measures of collective punishment have denied children and youth their right to education. The sick have been denied their right to medical care and workers have been denied their right to work. As a result more than half of Palestinians are living below poverty level. Malnutrition and other health problems have also sharply increased.

Israeli soldiers who commit gross violations and war crimes enjoy impunity while Israelis who refuse to serve in army because they are unwilling to contribute to such violations are imprisoned.

Upholding international human rights and humanitarian law cannot be subordinated to political rivalry. Long lasting peace and security can only be achieved if human rights are made an integral part of negotiations and peace initiatives.

AI INDEX: MDE 02/001/2003 31 March 2003

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Copyright © Laura Rowe.