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Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

    August 01, 2014
    Amnesty International has collected compelling evidence of war crimes and other crimes under international law committed by Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.© EPA/ANP/TOUSSAINT KLUITERS/lln mda

    The UN Security Council, the Palestinian Authority and Israel must do everything within their power to enable the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring to justice those responsible for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the current and past Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, said Amnesty International. 

    Since 8 July, more than 1,400 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing hostilities. According to the UN, the majority of those killed have been Palestinian civilians, including at least 252 children. Three civilians in Israel have been killed by indiscriminate rockets or mortars fired from Gaza, and 61 Israeli soldiers have also been killed. There is mounting evidence that war crimes have been committed by all parties.

    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 30, 2014

    An attack overnight on the Jabaliya elementary school in Gaza, where more than 3,000 displaced civilians had sought refuge, is a possible war crime and should be independently investigated, said Amnesty International today. The attack killed at least 20 people and injured dozens more at the school, which is located inside the very densely populated Jabaliya Refugee Camp.

    An initial assessment by UNRWA – the UN relief agency for displaced Palestinians and refugees - who analyzed fragments and damage at the site, indicates the school was hit by Israeli artillery despite the fact that UNRWA shared its coordinates with the Israeli army 17 times. The strike is the sixth attack on a UN-run school in Gaza since Operation “Protective Edge” began on 8 July.

    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.

    July 25, 2014

    What does Amnesty International think of the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council on 23 July? What should happen next?

    Amnesty International welcomes resolution S-21/1 to establish a commission of inquiry and notes that the wording allows the commission to investigate violations of international law by all parties to the current conflict. The commission of inquiry represents an important opportunity to break the cycle of persistent impunity for crimes under international law in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). In order to be effective the commission of inquiry must be thorough, independent and impartial, and look into violations by any party to the conflict. It must be adequately resourced and have unrestricted access to all relevant areas. Amnesty International urges all states – including all EU member states, who abstained on the resolution – to co-operate with the commission as required.

    What are the key obligations of the parties to the conflict during the hostilities under international humanitarian law?

    July 23, 2014

    The Honourable John Baird
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    125 Sussex Drive
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0G2

    22 July, 2014

    Dear Minister Baird,

    Amnesty International has repeatedly spoken out about widespread violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights standards since the most recent crisis in Gaza and Israel erupted on 8 July.   We are writing this Open Letter to you, on behalf of more than 80,000 Amnesty International members across Canada, with an urgent request that the Canadian government similarly speak out and insist that these rapidly mounting violations – by both sides of this conflict – must end immediately. 

    We have of course noted the frequent comments made by the Prime Minister, you personally and other members of the government, criticizing Hamas for the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel.  Amnesty International has similarly consistently condemned those actions, underscoring that such actions constitute violations of international humanitarian law.

    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.  

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