Palestine Human Rights Report For 11-17 April
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
This report covers human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in the period 11-17 April 2002. This week, evidence of crimes perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces in Jenin refugee camp and the old city of Nablus was discovered as some journalists were able to reach the two areas. PCHR also received phone calls from residents of Nablus who described violations by Israeli forces in the city. For the third consecutive week, Israeli occupation forces carried out an unprecedented all-out offensive on the West Bank cities. For the 14th consecutive day, Israeli occupation forces have shelled and attacked Jenin refugee camp and the old city of Nablus. They have also obstructed free media access in the two areas.
This week, Israeli military officials gave contradictory statements regarding the number of Palestinian victims in Jenin refugee camp since 3 April, when Israeli forces launched a full-scale offensive on the refugee camp. On Friday, 12 April, an Israeli military spokesman stated that "hundreds of Palestinians were killed in the refugee camp." Later, he stated that "hundreds were killed or injured."
On Sunday, 14 April, Israeli defense minister Benyamin Ben Eliezer claimed that "dozens, not hundreds, were killed in the refugee camp." Israeli occupation forces have denied or obstructed the access of medical personnel and international agencies, such as UNRWA and ICRC to the refugee camp, raising suspicions of a cover-up of mass human rights violations. According to eyewitnesses, an Israeli truck was repeatedly seen entering the refugee camp and then leaving it loaded with bodies of Palestinians, heading towards Israel. Some journalists risked their lives to enter the refugee camps and photographed burnt and decayed bodies under the ruins. Such photos were only cursory examinations. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli occupation forces extra-judicially executed many Palestinian civilians who refused to leave their homes, as well as resistance fighters who surrendered after their ammunition ran out.
The ICRC stated that the situation in the refugee camp resembled the aftermath of an earthquake, and that it was impossible for it to carry out its rescue mission with local means. Israeli occupation forces also destroyed a number of houses over their residents. Some residents of the refugee camp were also forced to leave the camp. The geography of the refugee camp has totally changed due to the Israeli offensive.
In the old city of Nablus, some of whose buildings are 3000 years old, Israeli occupation killed dozens of Palestinians and destroyed many houses and civilian facilities. On Friday, 12 April, bodies of 8 members of one family were discovered under the ruins of the old city of Nablus. Israeli occupation forces arrested approximately 3000 Palestinians in Nablus. Israeli occupation forces imposed a strict curfew on the city, which is under threat of an environmental and health catastrophe. Bodies of 73 Palestinian have been discovered so far, 27 of which were buried, including 14 in various areas and 13 in a mass grave in the old city. Rafidya Hospital, the largest hospital in Nablus, was forced to place corpses in a refrigerator truck.
Israeli occupation forces have carried out mass arbitrary detentions of Palestinian civilians without charge. According to Israeli sources, the number of Palestinians being held from the current offensive is 5000. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli forces put signs on the backs and arms of some of the detainees. This week, Israeli occupation forces arrested Marwan Barghouthi, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and Secretary of Fatah Movement in the West Bank.
In Bethlehem, Israeli occupation forces have maintained a strict siege on the Church of the Nativity, despite international calls to lift the siege. Approximately 200 Palestinians are seeking refuge inside the church. Israeli forces have denied the access of medical personnel to the wounded and patients in the church.
In attempt to mislead the international community, the Israeli government declared that it withdrew its forces from some cities. However, Israeli forces re-invaded these cities.
On Tuesday, 16 April, Israeli occupation forces imposed a curfew on three villages in occupied Jerusalem. They raided houses and arrested a number of Palestinians.
As part of their attempts to conceal information about their attacks in the West Bank, especially on Nablus and Jenin, Israeli occupation forces violated press freedom and attacked local and foreign journalists in the West Bank. They attacked and detained some journalists, especially in Nablus and Ramallah. In Bethlehem, Israeli forces obstructed the work of more than 50 local and foreign journalists in a hotel near the Church of the Nativity.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation forces shelled and invaded Palestinian residential areas in Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, Deir al-Balah, and Rafah. Three Palestinians, including a mentally handicapped young man, were killed. Israeli forces also razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land, especially in Beit Hanoun.
This week, Israeli forces maintained the total siege imposed on the OPT. Israeli forces separated Palestinian areas, transforming them into Bantustans. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation forces divided the strip into three isolated zones. They have prevented movement of persons and goods, in violation of the economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians. Israeli forces have also maintained a strict siege on al-Mawas i area in the southern Gaza Strip. PCHR was informed by residents of the area that food and medical supplies in the area were running out.