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Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

    March 13, 2017

    Photographic evidence and witness testimony gathered by Amnesty International at the scene suggest that Palestinian security forces used excessive force to violently suppress a peaceful protest outside of the Ramallah District Court in the West Bank on 12 March 2017.

    Ten minutes after the protest against the prosecution of six Palestinian men, including slain activist Basil al-Araj, began outside the courthouse in al-Bireh area, Amnesty International researchers witnessed heavily armed security forces arriving, carrying batons and shields. They immediately began to charge towards the protesters, violently striking them with the wooden batons, using pepper spray and firing tear gas into the crowd. At least 21 people (13 men and eight women) were injured, including four journalists covering the event. Seventeen were hospitalized.

    February 28, 2017

    The Israeli authorities’ administrative detention of Muhammed al-Qiq, a Palestinian journalist is unjust and cruel, said Amnesty International after a military judge approved an order confirming his detention for three months, which can be renewed indefinitely.

    Muhammed al-Qiq, who was placed in solitary confinement following his arrest, has been on hunger strike since 6 February in protest at his detention. According to his lawyer his health has deteriorated in recent weeks and he is in need of specialized medical care. Israel uses administrative detention to jail Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial based on secret evidence.

    “Today’s decision to approve the administrative detention of Muhammed al-Qiq is an affront to justice. Israel’s administrative detention which is predominately used to detain Palestinians without charge or trial is arbitrary and abusive. The Israeli authorities must end this practice, which itself can amount to cruel and inhuman treatment, once and for all,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. 

    February 14, 2017

    President Donald Trump must use his upcoming meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make clear that the US government opposes the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said Amnesty International in an open letter published today.

    February 01, 2017

    The Israeli authorities’ authorization of the construction of 3,000 further illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank today - the fourth such announcement within weeks - highlights their shocking willingness to flout international law, said Amnesty International. 

    In the weeks prior to this the Israeli authorities announced plans to build 3,219 more homes in the occupied West Bank including 719 homes in East Jerusalem. All the announcements have come since the inauguration of US President Donald J. Trump, a staunch ally of Israel’s current government.

    “Since the start of 2017 the Israeli authorities have made clear that they plan to accelerate the construction of illegal settlement homes and seize further Palestinian territory in flagrant violation of international law,” said Magdalena Mughrabi Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The flurry of recent announcements signals that the Israeli government, emboldened by the Trump administration, feels no need to hide its brazen violations of the rights of the occupied Palestinian population.

    January 04, 2017

    The conviction of an Israeli soldier who shot dead a Palestinian man involved in a knife attack in Hebron as he lay wounded on the ground offers a small glimmer of hope amid the rampant impunity for unlawful killings in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said Amnesty International today.

    The soldier, Elor Azaria, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif, one of two Palestinians believed to have been involved in the stabbing of an Israeli soldier on 24 March 2016 in Hebron, after a military court ruled that his actions violated the Israeli army’s rules of engagement.

    “Today’s conviction of a member of the Israeli forces is a rare occurrence in a country with a long record of using excessive and unwarranted force, and where soldiers who may have committed crimes under international law very seldom face prosecution. The verdict is a small step in the right direction and offers a glimmer of hope that soldiers who commit unlawful killings may no longer go unpunished,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    December 23, 2016

    Following the United Nations Security Council’s adoption of a resolution calling on Israel to cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office in New York, said:

    “At the close of a shameful year for the Security Council, where divisions repeatedly blocked the adoption of key resolutions to protect the most vulnerable, today’s decision to finally pass a resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements is a welcome step.

    “This is the first time in almost four decades that such a resolution has been passed. During this time, settlements not only continued to be built, but at an accelerated pace.

    “The resolution includes a crucial demand that the Israeli authorities immediately halt all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Such activities constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, constitute a war crime.

    November 22, 2016

    Israeli authorities must drop all charges against Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro, who is facing prison time for his internationally recognized peaceful activism against Israel’s illegal settlements in the city of Hebron, Amnesty International said today.

    Issa Amro’s trial is due to begin on 23 November at Ofer Military Court in the occupied West Bank.

    “The deluge of charges against Issa Amro does not stand up to any scrutiny. In their determination to silence him and stifle his human rights work, the Israeli authorities have apparently even reopened a closed case file. If he is convicted we will consider Issa Amro a prisoner of conscience,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “As well as dropping the baseless and politically motivated charges against Issa Amro, the Israeli authorities should investigate his allegations of beatings in custody, and the physical and verbal abuse hurled at him by settlers, the army and the police. People who speak out about human rights abuses should be protected, not assaulted and harassed.”

    September 28, 2016

    Nearly a year on from a bloody spike in violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) Israeli forces continue to display an appalling disregard for human life by using reckless and unlawful lethal force against Palestinians, Amnesty International said today.

    In a memorandum sent to the Israeli authorities on 14 September, the organization has detailed 20 cases of apparently unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces seeking clarification about the status of investigations. In at least 15 of the cases, Palestinians were deliberately shot dead, despite posing no imminent threat to life, in what appear to be extrajudicial executions. The Israeli authorities have not responded to Amnesty International’s concerns.

    “Since the escalation of violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories last year, there has been a worrying rise in unlawful killings by Israeli forces, fostered by a culture of impunity,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    August 29, 2016

    The Israeli authorities must ensure that the trial of a detained humanitarian worker employed by the charity World Vision is fair and open, said Amnesty International on the eve of his trial, amid reports that the proceedings are due to take place in secret.

    Mohammed al-Halabi, the manager of Gaza operations for the child-focused global development NGO, is facing 12 charges including being a member of a “terrorist organization” and siphoning off the charity’s funds for “terrorism” purposes.  He was initially denied access to a lawyer and, when she was eventually allowed to meet him, he alleged he had been seriously mistreated in custody.

    The lawyer is prevented from disclosing the details of that allegation, as well as many other elements of the case, by a set of severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on reporting around the case. 

    July 28, 2016
    Shuja'ya civil defence ambulance hit 21 July, where medic was killed

    by Jim Joyce

    Two years ago Israel’s military forces for fifty days wreaked destruction on the Gaza Strip, killing close to 1,500 civilians, more than a third of them children (6 Israeli civilians were killed by rockets fired by the Palestinians.) 

    Two years later no independent (of those ordering, implementing or advising on the war) investigations of these war crimes have been undertaken by the government of Israel.  Some of these attacks clearly targeted civilians, a violation of international humanitarian law.  No credible investigations have been done by the Palestinians of their rocket attacks, with some dozen of them having ranges beyond the arc of territory just north of Gaza.

    This was the third such war in the past ten years.  Each has been more devastating than the previous to the lives and infrastructure of the Palestinians in Gaza.  No one has been held accountable for the death of civilians those times either.

    Amnesty International, connecting the dots — reports of war crimes and no investigations — fears that the Israeli government has granted its soldiers  impunity to continue killing Palestinian civilians. 

    July 18, 2016

    By Jim Joyce, Amnesty International Canada's Coordinator for Israel/OPT/Palestine

    July 07, 2016

    by Jim Joyce, AICS(ES) Israel, Occupied Territories, Palestine Coordinator

    Hassan Safadi, a Palestinian journalist and Media Coordinator for Addameer, a prisoners’ rights organization, was detained returning from Jordan at the Karameh bridge crossing into the Occupied Palestinian Territory on 01 May by Israeli authorities. 

    He was taken to the Moscobiyyah Police Detention Center in Jerusalem and interrogated.  This interrogation continued after he was transferred to Kitziot Prison in the Negev southern Israel.  He told his lawyer he was subjected to sleep deprivation and tied into stress positions during those interrogation sessions.  Such treatment violates the prohibition under international law of torture and other ill-treatment.  For a period between 12 and 22 May he was denied access to his lawyer.

    His sister reported that IDF personnel came to their home and took away any papers “that had Hasan’s name.”  They also carried away books that were inscribed with his name.

    July 07, 2016

    “I cannot understand how a crime that took place in view of cameras, where the whole world saw how boys playing on the beach were massacred mercilessly, can pass like that without any criminals held to account.” Sobhi Bakr, relative of four boys killed in an Israeli air strike on 16 July 2014.

    Tomorrow, 8 July 2016, marks the second anniversary of the start of a 50-day Israeli military offensive which brought unprecedented death and destruction to the Gaza Strip.

    In a new briefing issued today, Amnesty International asks why no genuine criminal investigations have been launched, and why no one has yet been held to account for atrocities in spite of war crimes being committed by both sides.

    “During 50 days of attacks, Israeli forces wreaked massive death and destruction on the Gaza Strip, killing close to 1,500 civilians, more than 500 of whom were children,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

    June 13, 2016

    The Israeli military today renewed for six months the detention of Palestinian circus performer Mohammad Faisal Abu Sakha, who has been held without charge since his arrest in December 2015, in a case that exemplifies the authorities’ arbitrary and repressive use of administrative detention, said Amnesty International.

    Mohammad Abu Sakha performs as a clown and teaches at the Palestinian Circus School in Birzeit, near Ramallah, where he specializes in working with children with learning difficulties.

    “The arbitrary detention of Mohammad Abu Sakha is yet another shameful example of the Israeli authorities’ abusive use of administrative detention. He has already spent more than six months behind bars without being charged or allowed to stand trial - he has been denied even the slightest semblance of justice,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “The Israeli authorities must either charge Mohammad Abu Sakha with a genuine criminal offence or order his release. For decades, Israel has relied upon administrative detention, in many cases as an alternative to bringing

    June 09, 2016

    The deadly attack on civilians at a Tel Aviv shopping and restaurant complex last night displayed a stark contempt for human life, Amnesty International said.

    Two Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the Sarona market in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening, killing four civilians and injuring others. Several of those wounded were still hospitalized on Thursday morning. Israeli forces apprehended the attackers, wounding one of them.

    “This heinous attack flouted fundamental principles of humanity,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “There can be never be any justification for deliberately attacking civilians.”

    No group has claimed responsibility for the killings, but the Hamas movement welcomed the attack and warned of more “surprises” for Israel.

    “Celebration and coded threats are a reprehensible response to the deaths of civilians,” said Philip Luther.

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