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Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

    May 06, 2016

    By Alex Neve and Beatrice Vaugrante

    On February 22 of this year, the House of Commons passed a motion condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society. The BDS movement is a non-violent, global campaign which encourages organizations, activists and citizens to apply economic pressure on Israel “until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law.”

    Amnesty International does not take a position vis-a-vis the BDS movement.  We do, however, unequivocally support the right of individuals to engage in the debate associated with the movement and associated campaign, including the right to advance the objectives of the BDS movement and promote the view that boycotts, divestment and sanctions should be applied.

    July 08, 2015
    On 8 July 2014, Israel launched a military offensive against the Gaza Strip for the third time in less than six years. "WE COULDN’T HEAR THE KIDS, THEIR VOICES HAD COMPLETELY GONE. THAT’S WHEN I REALIZED THEY WERE ALL DEAD." - Khalil Abed Hassan Ammar, who lost three of his four children in an Israeli attack on their Gaza City home on 20 July 2014.

    Over 50 days, both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes and other serious breaches of international law. To date, neither side has held anyone to account.

    During the war, Israeli forces fired tens of thousands of artillery and tank shells into densely populated residential areas, and launched air strikes on homes across the Gaza Strip, killing families inside in many cases. They struck schools sheltering civilians and attacked hospitals and medical workers, including ambulance staff trying to evacuate the dead and wounded.

    May 26, 2015

    By Tarek Chatila, Montreal-area activist and writer for Amnesty Canada’s Isr/OT/PA co-group

    In March, Amnesty International released the report ‘Unlawful and deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict’, which focuses on the firing by Palestinian armed groups of thousands of unguided rockets and mortars towards Israel, during the fifty day war.

    May 23, 2015

    By Tarek Chatila, Montreal-area activist and writer for Amnesty Canada’s Isr/OT/PA co-group

    In March, Amnesty International released its report entitled ‘Unlawful and deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict.’ Coming just two weeks before Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it is part of the ‘Nowhere to run for life, safety, justice’ campaign which demands accountability for human rights violations carried out by all parties during Israel’s operation in Gaza, codenamed ‘Protective Edge.’

    May 04, 2015

    By Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada's Secretary General. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeve Amnesty

    Amnesty International has reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel  regarding Public Diplomacy Cooperation ( MOU) which was concluded between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries on 18 January, 2015.

    November 09, 2014

    By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

    Nearly three months have passed since the latest conflict came to an end, but the piles of rubble and empty shells of family homes in Gaza serve as painful reminders of the death and destruction that resulted from Israel’s latest military operation there in July and August this year.

    Mohammad Akram al-Hallaq’s three grandchildren were watching cartoons in the television room when the three missiles struck on 20 July. The walls collapsed in an avalanche of rubble, crumbling into piles of dust and rocks above and below them. None of the children survived. Eight people, all civilians, including four children from another family living in the building were also killed.

    September 17, 2014

    By Sunjeev Bery, Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa, Amnesty International – USA

    As the UN General Assembly began its meeting on September 16 in New York City, Amnesty International was delivering 187,563 signatures to the White House in a global call to cut off weapons fuelling abuses in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Thousands of people from the U.S. and 166 other nations are urging President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to stop arming Israel and start backing a UN arms embargo on Israel, Hamas, and other Palestinian armed groups.

    September 05, 2014

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    This summer’s conflict in Gaza and southern Israel was wrenching. Day after day it did not let up. Rockets launched from Gaza. Relentless aerial bombardment by Israeli forces in Gaza. More rockets from Gaza. Missiles and ground assaults by Israeli forces. All of that in a wider context of serious and longstanding human rights violations, including the collective punishment of the Gaza blockade; and very legitimate security concerns. Against this loud and angry backdrop the toll on civilians, overwhelmingly Palestinian civilians, was heartbreaking. In a corner of the world that has been enmeshed in decades of repression, terrorism, reprisal, defence and revenge the summer of 2014 will long be remembered for the scale and ferocity of the violence.

    August 06, 2014
    Rockets launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli cities, 13 July 2014. © EPA

    By Yonatan Gher, Executive Director, Amnesty International Israel

    My brother and I are experiencing the current Israel-Gaza conflict quite differently. He is 20, serving out his military service and has been fighting in Gaza. I, on the other hand, am the Executive Director of Amnesty International Israel, an organization that is now heavily involved in documenting and campaigning on apparent crimes perpetrated by both sides of this conflict. I am also a conscientious objector.

    My position does not diminish from the fact that I spend my days worried sick about him and other family members in similar situations. When you have such complexity in a family situation, humour is often the best approach, and so we joke sometimes that if the rest of the world heeds Amnesty International’s call for an arms embargo, I’ll be coming for his gun first.

    July 30, 2014

    By Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

    Across the city of Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) hang billboards and banners showing images of bloodshed and destruction alongside the words: “Here now, we are all Gaza”.

    Many of these posters, which I also saw hanging in other cities across the West Bank, are sponsored by the Palestinian Authority institutions. In Ramallah, the local municipality also recently hosted a demonstration where people carried dozens of empty coffins wrapped in Palestinian flags to represent the rising numbers of people killed in Gaza since the launch of Israel’s military operation there on 8 July. The procession was led by the local governor and other officials.

    In contrast with the past seven years or so, West Bank solidarity with Gaza seems to be stronger. During the 2008/09 and 2012 Israeli military operations in Gaza, a solidarity demonstration would gather maybe a couple of dozen or fewer people in a handful of locations. Today, hundreds are protesting on an almost daily basis in cities and villages across the West Bank.

    July 28, 2014

    Interview with a human rights fieldworker in Gaza

    This morning as I brushed my teeth I could hear the familiar buzzing of a drone circling above our building. I ignored the sound. Drones circle overhead all the time; you never know whether it’s just for surveillance or an impending missile launch. The uncertainty makes you feel helpless. What can anyone do?

    Five minutes later, a missile fired from what sounded like an F-16 fighter jet struck nearby. The loud boom sent the children running to me. They crowded in the bathroom, for comfort and safety. They looked so frightened and pale; their eyes red from lack of sleep. I am known for keeping a cool head, people say I have nerves of steel, so, typically, I just smiled at them – still clutching my toothbrush. The relief of seeing me smile made them break down in giggles; it’s one of those absurd reactions you have under extreme stress.

    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.

    April 09, 2013

    By Lamri Chirouf, Amnesty International’s delegate in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

    Last month we drove northwest from Ramallah to visit the small village of Budrus, which gained international attention a decade ago when residents started protesting against the fence/wall erected by Israel.

    Regular protests there against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank continue, and clashes between village youths and members of the Israeli army have become a weekly, if not daily, occurrence.

    The main reason behind the protests is still the wall, described by the Israeli government as a security fence and by Budrus residents, and Palestinians throughout the West Bank, as an ‘apartheid wall’ and a way for the Israeli government to annex more Palestinian lands.

    November 27, 2012

    By Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme

    Damage to an apartment building in Rishon LeZion, outside Tel Aviv, from rockets fired from Gaza © Amnesty International.

     

    It was dawn when we arrived in Israel to begin our investigation into rocket attacks from Gaza which by the end of the latest flare in violence had left six Israelis, including four civilians, dead, at least 40 injured and 300 more treated for shock.

    Up in the sky oddly shaped vapour trails made us wonder if these were the remnants of the “Iron Dome” missiles – used to intercept the rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups which this time reached as far north as Tel Aviv.

    A child is digging in the rubble of the destroyed al-Dalu family house in Gaza City © Amnesty International

    The following is a firsthand account by Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser, reporting from Gaza. The ceasefire came into effect at 9pm on November 21 November.

    The children are playing outside again, despite the torrential rain. They were stuck indoors during eight days of relentless Israeli bombardments.

    By the time that ended in excess of 160 people were dead - including more than 30 children and scores of other unarmed civilians.

    For the duration of the onslaught they were stuck indoors - at home, seeking refuge with relatives or in schools which the UN refugee agency turned into temporary shelters for thousands of families forced from their houses by the bombings.

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