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PNA Dismisses Int. Law Violations Report

PNA Dismisses Report Accusing Palestinians of Violating Int’l Law

Leading Israeli Human Rights Group Condemns IOF Violations of Palestinian Rights

The Palestine National Authority (PNA) dismissed a report by Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World), which accused Palestinian groups of committing “serious violations of international humanitarian law,” stressing that occupation is the main source of violence and the only war crime.

“We refuse the findings of this report. Only the (Israeli) occupation is a war crime,” President Yasser Arafat’s Media Adviser, Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

“What is needed is for the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands to end and for a Palestinian state to be created. The occupation is the source of every problem here,” he said.

“The Palestinian people has endured the occupation for decades and has the right to achieve freedom, independence and justice,” said Abu Rudeina.

Medecins du Monde alleged in its report that “Armed Palestinian groups clearly premeditate and organize serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

The suicide bombings “constitute crimes against humanity in the terms of the statute of the International Criminal Court,” the group said.

However, it admitted that senior Palestinian officials and respected intellectuals have admonished the actions against civilians.

Meanwhile, Israel’s leading civil rights group harshly criticized Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) for cruel and sadistic behavior against Palestinians over the past year, in a report that complained about IOF policy that bans inquiries into most deaths of Palestinians.

The annual report by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), decried “unprecedented harm to innocent people, Palestinians and Israelis” during the third year of violence.

The report covers the period between June 2002 and June 2003.

The ACRI document’s section about the West Bank concentrates on Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, listing IOF behavior at roadblocks, raids of villages and extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian activists as areas of violations.

Hundreds of Palestinians were killed during the past year, the report notes, but only a handful of inquiries were opened, all concerning Jewish settlers suspected of violence.

The group said that the military prosecutor follows a policy of refusing to investigate “deaths that occurred during warfare,” a term that covers most of the fatal incidents.

The ACRI report complained that West Bank roadblocks, which were set up shortly after the break of the Intifada against the Israeli 36-year old occupation on September 2000 have become institutionalized centers of mistreatment of Palestinians.

Besides daily humiliation, some Palestinians have died as a result of the roadblocks, the report said.

“While a healthy person can somehow make his way across,” the report says, “a pregnant woman or a sick person cannot, and an ambulance cannot cross from the other side.”

The civil rights group also criticized the assassinations of suspected Palestinian activists, complaining that many innocent civilians have been killed in the operations.

During the year covered by the report, “the military assassinated 80 Palestinians. In at least 20 cases, the military accepted responsibility. In the operations during the period, 90 women, children and innocent men were killed and more than 300 innocent people were wounded.”

ACRI was founded in 1972 as a nonpolitical and independent body to protect human and civil rights in Israel and in the occupied territories under Israeli occupation, according to the group’s Web site.

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