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Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

    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.

    September 01, 2014

    The Israeli authorities’ outrageous plan to expropriate nearly 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank is illegal and must be rescinded immediately, said Amnesty International.

    “Israel’s strategy of illegally confiscating land for settlements in the West Bank must stop once and for all. Not only it is illegal under international law but it is leading to a wide range of violations of Palestinians’ human rights on a mass scale,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Reports that that the Israeli cabinet justified this land grab as a reaction to the deplorable murder in June of three Israeli teenagers suggests this is an act of collective punishment and that Israel is moving further and further away from its obligations under international law.”

    The plans, announced on Sunday by the Israeli military-run Civil Administration, would directly affect at least five Palestinian villages in the Bethlehem area.

    This appears to be the largest land grab in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since the 1980s.

    August 20, 2014

    “The Israeli authorities appear to have been playing bureaucratic games with us over access to Gaza, conditioning it on entirely unreasonable criteria even as the death toll mounts” said Anne FitzGerald, Amnesty International’s Director of Research and Crisis Response.

    Israel should immediately allow access to Gaza for Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other international human rights organizations so they can investigate allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today,

    “The victims' and the public's right to know about what happened during the hostilities requires the Israeli authorities to ensure full transparency about their actions and to refrain from hindering independent and impartial research into all alleged violations.”

    August 19, 2014

    The resumption of Israeli air strikes and rocket fire from Gaza underscores the imperative need to grant human rights groups immediate access to monitor the situation, said Amnesty International today.

    Since the beginning of Israel’s military operation on 8 July 2014 in Gaza, Israeli authorities have denied repeated requests by Amnesty International to enter Gaza via the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing. The organization also requested access from Egyptian authorities, who so far have not granted it.

    “The apparent resumption of Israeli airstrikes and rocket fire today is another reminder that our access to the Gaza Strip cannot wait. Valuable time has already been lost and it is essential that human rights organizations are now able to begin the vital job of examining allegations of war crimes,” said Anne FitzGerald, Amnesty International’s Director of Research and Crisis Response.

    “The Israeli authorities appear to have been playing bureaucratic games with us over access to Gaza, conditioning it on entirely unreasonable criteria even as the death toll in the region has risen.”

    August 07, 2014
    There has been mounting evidence that the Israel Defense Forces launched apparently deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals in Gaza.© EPA/OLIVER WEIKEN

    An immediate investigation is needed into mounting evidence that the Israel Defense Forces launched apparently deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals in Gaza, which have left six medics dead, said Amnesty International as it released disturbing testimonies from doctors, nurses, and ambulance personnel working in the area.

    “The harrowing descriptions by ambulance drivers and other medics of the utterly impossible situation in which they have to work, with bombs and bullets killing or injuring their colleagues as they try to save lives, paint a grim reality of life in Gaza,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.  

    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.

    August 04, 2014

    Amnesty International is appealing to the US government to immediately halt the transfer of a US fuel shipment currently on its way to Israel for use by the Israeli military. The organization has repeatedly called for a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict, amidst mounting evidence that war crimes are being committed by both sides in the past four weeks in Gaza.

    The US government has continued to supply hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel, including fuel for fighter jets and military vehicles, to Israel’s armed forces despite a soaring civilian death toll from aerial and other military attacks. The last US jet fuel delivery arrived in Israel on 14 July, a week after the conflict began. Nine previous shipments were made from the US to Israel during 2013 and 2014. A fuel tanker with the latest US fuel shipment is now sailing past the Azores and is due to arrive in Israel on 12 August.

    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.

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