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Killing civilians will not bring security or peace

Killing Palestinian civilians will not bring security or peace

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *

23 July 2002 MDE 15/122/2002

Amnesty International condemns the air strike of the Israeli Defence Forces last night in Gaza reportedly killing at least 15 people, including nine children, and wounding more than 80 others, many seriously.

"This attack was disproportionate and is utterly unacceptable", Amnesty International said.

A missile fired from a F-16 plane reportedly seriously damaged four houses including the apartment of leading Hamas activist Salah Shehada, who was among those killed. Israel believes Salah Shehada to have been responsible for organizing a number of suicide attacks. Hamas has claimed responsibility for more than 20 attacks against civilians since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000.

Amnesty International urges the Israeli government to end such unlawful attacks. The organization calls on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume judicial cooperation to ensure that those accused of attacks against civilians are brought to justice in a prompt and fair way.

"The international community must step up its efforts to assist the Palestinian Authority in improving the effectiveness of its criminal justice system and its compliance with international human rights standards", Amnesty International said.

"International experts should be deployed urgently to advise on and monitor investigations into attacks against civilians and legal proceedings against alleged perpetrators".

Amnesty International calls on Hamas and all other Palestinian armed groups not to retaliate against Israeli civilians. "Even the gravest human rights abuses do not justify the deliberate targeting of civilians," Amnesty International stated.

For further information on Israel / Occupied Territories visit: http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/pages/iot_home

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