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Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

    July 21, 2014

    The continuing bombardment of civilian homes in several areas of the Gaza Strip, as well as the Israeli shelling of a hospital, add to the list of possible war crimes that demand an urgent independent international investigation, said Amnesty International.

    The third floor of the Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah was struck by Israeli shelling, killing four people and wounding dozens, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health spokesperson.

    “Today’s attack on the Al-Aqsa hospital is the latest in a series of attacks on and near medical facilities in Gaza, which have been struggling to cope with thousands of injured people since the Israeli offensive began on 8 July,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “There can be no justification for targeting medical facilities at any time. Attacks on medical facilities underline the need for a prompt, impartial international investigation mandated by the UN.”

    Last week, the al-Wafa rehabilitative hospital in Shuja’iyyeh was severely damaged after being attacked twice by Israeli forces.

    July 18, 2014

    Israel’s ground assault on the Gaza Strip, which began last night after 10 days of attacks by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups, accentuates the need for urgent international action to protect civilians in Gaza and Israel from further war crimes by both sides, Amnesty International said today.

    “Israel’s relentless air assault on Gaza has seen its forces flagrantly disregard civilian life and property, which must be protected under international humanitarian law,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    Some 240 Palestinians had already been killed before the ground operation began, at least 171 of them civilians, including 48 children and 31 women, up to 3pm on 17 July, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. One Israeli civilian was killed by mortar fire from Gaza on 15 July.

    At least 30 more Palestinians have reportedly been killed in the Gaza Strip since the ground assault was launched.

    July 11, 2014
    A member of the Palestinian Abu Lealla family examines the damage to his destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike north of Gaza City on, 11 July 2014.© EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

    Amnesty International is calling for a UN-mandated international investigation into violations committed on all sides amidst ongoing Israeli air strikes across the Gaza Strip and continuing volleys of indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian armed groups into Israel.

    Since Israel launched Operation “Protective Edge” in the early morning of 8 July, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, most of them civilians who were not directly participating in hostilities. This includes at least 24 children and 16 women as of Friday morning. More than 600 people have been wounded, many of them seriously. More than 340 homes in Gaza have been completely destroyed or left uninhabitable and at least five health facilities and three ambulances have been damaged. In Israel, at least 20 people have been wounded by rocket attacks and property has been damaged.

    July 08, 2014

    Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including the military wing of Hamas, to ensure that civilian lives are protected as the conflict between the two sides escalates. 

    “All sides to the conflict have an absolute obligation under international humanitarian law to protect the lives of civilians caught up in the intensifying hostilities,” said Philip Luther, Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “Amnesty International urges the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas’ military wing and those overseeing it, to fully respect the laws of war. Israel must only carry out strikes on legitimate military targets and exercise the utmost caution in the means and methods of attack to minimize the risk to civilians and damage to civilian homes and infrastructure. Carrying out indiscriminate air strikes in densely populated areas or direct attacks on civilian homes will inevitably lead to the loss of civilian lives, in violation of international humanitarian law.”

    July 01, 2014

    The murder of three abducted Israeli teens deserves justice, something ill-served by the Israeli authorities’ actions overnight and their ongoing practices that amount to collective punishment of Palestinians in the West Bank, which are blatant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, Amnesty International said.

    On 30 June, the bodies of three Israeli teens abducted on 12 June were found north of the city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Israeli authorities have vowed revenge against the Palestinian armed group Hamas, alleging that it was behind the abduction.

    “Nothing can justify these abductions and murders, which we again condemn. Those responsible must be brought to justice,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    June 18, 2014

    Amnesty International calls for the immediate and unconditional release of three Israeli teenagers abducted in the occupied West Bank on the evening of 12 June 2014. Additionally, Amnesty International calls on the Israeli authorities to cease all measures amounting to collective punishment which have been imposed on the Palestinian population in the West Bank and elsewhere since the abduction.

    Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Sha’er, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, all students at yeshivas (religious schools) in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, were last seen late on 12 June in the settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, between the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron in the southern West Bank. One of the three reportedly called the Israeli police at about 10:25pm on 12 June and said, “We’ve been kidnapped,” before all contact was lost with the teenagers.

    June 05, 2014

    The Israeli government’s refusal to allow whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who leaked details of the country’s nuclear arsenal to the international media in 1986, to leave the country for even three days to attend events in the UK next week is entirely unjustified, said Amnesty International.

    Last month, Israel’s Interior Minister rejected an application by the former nuclear technician to travel to the UK in June. His lawyers have petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn this decision, as well as to revoke a host of other restrictions against him including an ongoing complete travel ban. The Court is expected to rule on his request to travel to the UK next week.

    Mordechai Vanunu is due to attend an event organized by Amnesty International on 17 June to promote the protection of whistleblowers including Edward Snowdon and Chelsea Manning. He has also been invited to address the British parliament on 18 June. 

    May 15, 2014

    Israeli forces have displayed continuing recklessness in their use of force against Palestinian protesters when they killed a young man and a teenager, and injured others, during a crackdown on demonstrations to commemorate the Nakba in the occupied West Bank today, said Amnesty International.

    The killings occurred in a demonstration outside Ofer military camp. As well as commemorating the Nakba (the dispossession of Palestinians in 1948), the demonstrators were expressing solidarity with around 125 Palestinian detainees who are being held by Israel without charge and have been on hunger strike for 22 days to protest their detention conditions.

    The Israeli army and border police used excessive, including lethal, force in response to rock-throwing protesters who could not have posed a threat to the lives of the soldiers and policemen in or near the fortified military camp.

    April 16, 2014

    Ten years after serving a full sentence for his revelations to the press about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, Mordechai Vanunu still faces severe restrictions that arbitrarily infringe on his freedom of movement, expression and association, said Amnesty International.

    The former nuclear technician served an 18-year-prison sentence, the first 11 years of which were in solitary confinement, for disclosing information to journalists about Israel’s nuclear arsenal during the 1980s. 

    Since his release in 2004, renewable military orders, have placed Mordechai Vanunu under police supervision. Among other things, he is banned from leaving the country and participating in internet chats. He must also seek permission to communicate with any foreign nationals, including journalists.

    “The authorities’ continued punishment of Mordechai Vanunu appears to be purely vindictive. The government’s arguments that these severe restrictions are necessary for national security are ludicrous,” said Avner Gidron, Senior Policy Adviser at Amnesty International.  

    February 26, 2014

    Posted at 0001 GMT 27 February 2014

    Israel’s security forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life by killing scores of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank over the past three years with near total impunity, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    The report, Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank, describes mounting bloodshed and human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as a result of the Israeli forces’ use of unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians since January 2011.

    In all cases examined by Amnesty International, Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life. In some, there is evidence that they were victims of wilful killings, which would amount to war crimes.

    January 21, 2014
    Stephen Harper and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Jan 19 (PMO photo)

    Op-ed by Alex Neve (Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada), Béatrice Vaugrante (Directrice Générale, Amnistie internationale Canada francophone) and Yonatan Gher (Executive Director, Amnesty International Israel)

    Many eyes were watching closely during this visit. There would have been no better time to show that Canada is a principled human rights champion. But that was not to be.

    There was considerable fanfare and red carpet during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to Israel this week.

    After nearly eight years in office, the prime minister visited the country with which he has forged closer links than almost any other. The spectacle was breathtaking, with a delegation of over 200 people, including six cabinet ministers and other government MPs. With that sort of political heft, the opportunity to press important issues was considerable. 

    How disappointing, though not surprising, that Israel’s numerous human rights shortcomings did not make that list.

    December 03, 2013

    Israeli lawmakers must reject proposed amendments to the country’s Prevention of Infiltration Law, which would allow thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants to be held indefinitely in a remote desert detention centre, Amnesty International urged ahead of a 4 December vote in the Internal Affairs Committee of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

    The Committee has announced that it will bring the bill before the full Knesset for its final readings in the coming days.

    According to government reports, the amendments will provide for detaining some 3,300 people indefinitely in a fenced-in facility operated by the Israel Prison Service in the Negev desert, which the government is calling an “open centre”. The draft legislation states that the way for them to be released from the “open” centre is by being deported to their countries of origin – mainly Eritrea and Sudan.

    November 30, 2013

    Posted on Sunday December 1, 2013 00:01 GMT

    Israel must immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, including by allowing the delivery of fuel and other essential supplies into the territory without restrictions, said Amnesty International today.

    For the last month, all of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents have been living without power for most of the time and in the shadow of a public health catastrophe, after their sole power plant was forced to shut down, causing the failure of several sewerage and water plants.

    “This latest harsh setback has exacerbated the assault on the dignity of Palestinians in Gaza and the massive denial of rights they have experienced for more than six years because of Israel’s blockade, together with restrictions imposed by Egypt,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    October 29, 2013

    The Israeli authorities must thoroughly engage with and implement the recommendations made during an examination of its human rights performance today, said Amnesty International.

    This afternoon, Israel will undergo its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the United Nations Human Rights Council’s review process. It had previously refused to participate in a session scheduled for 29 January 2013 and threatened to boycott the October session.

    “The fact that Israel’s human rights performance is finally going to be reviewed today is positive news. However, it is not enough for Israel to simply attend the session; it must engage with the process and accept and implement accepted recommendations to improve the situation of human rights on the ground,” said Peter Splinter, the organization’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

    October 24, 2013

    The Israeli authorities must drop all charges against a Palestinian human rights lawyer released on bail last night, Amnesty International said.

    A military judge at Ofer Military Court ordered the release of Anas Bargouthi on bail because confessions from other detainees submitted as evidence failed to prove he is a security threat – particularly since the accusations against him relate to alleged activities from over a year ago.

    “The release of Anas Bargouthi is positive news but he should have never been detained and charged in the first place,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.


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