Peace in our Time?

December 23, 2006

AMNESTY INTNL: Israel & the Occupied Territories — Road to Nowhere

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 11:29 pm

ROAD TO NOWHERE

1. Introduction

Six years since the outbreak of the latest intifada and the effective collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories – the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem – has deteriorated to an unprecedented level. Prospects for a just and durable resolution of the conflict appear to be remote.

The undercurrent of violence, abuses of fundamental human rights and disregard for international law, which have marked the 40-year Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, have become firmly entrenched and relentless. Civilians in both Israel and the Occupied Territories have borne the brunt of the confrontations.

Some 4,000 Palestinians, most of them unarmed civilians and including some 800 children, have been killed by Israeli forces in disproportionate and reckless bombardments as well as shelling and shooting by Israeli forces into densely populated residential areas and refugee camps throughout the Occupied Territories in the past six years. In the same period some 1,100 Israelis, 700 of them civilians and including 120 children, have been killed by Palestinian armed groups in shooting attacks, suicide bombings in civilian areas and indiscriminate rocket attacks. Tens of thousands of Palestinians and thousands of Israelis have been injured, many maimed for life.

In addition to the loss of life on both sides, Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories have suffered a plethora of other human rights abuses. Israeli forces have destroyed thousands of Palestinian homes, vast areas of cultivated land and much crucial civilian infrastructure, including electricity power plants, roads, bridges and water, sewage and telephone networks. Ever increasing restrictions imposed on the movements of Palestinians and of goods, within as well as in and out of the Occupied Territories, have made any semblance of normal life impossible.

Hundreds of military checkpoints and blockades, and a fence/wall being built by Israel throughout the West Bank despite being declared unlawful by the International Court of Justice, increasingly hinder or prevent Palestinian access to their land, places of work, schools, hospitals and other medical facilities. The route of the fence/wall, the location of the military checkpoints, and closures – all of which impede the movement of Palestinians – are determined by the presence and location of Israeli settlements. These settlements were built for the exclusive use of Israeli settlers on seized Palestinian land throughout the West Bank and illegal under international law. In the Gaza Strip, the one area from which Israeli settlers have been removed, the closure imposed by Israeli forces keeps the 1.4 million inhabitants cut off and isolated from other parts of the Occupied Territories and from the rest of the world for most of the time.

These measures and restrictions, which the international community has acknowledged constitute the prime cause for the virtual collapse of the Palestinian economy in recent years, have been compounded in 2006 by the Israeli government’s decision to withhold the customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and by the decision of the international community to cut aid to the PA following the formation of a Hamas-led administration in March 2006. The consequence, as predicted, has been a sharp increase in poverty, unemployment and health problems among Palestinians, and an overall deterioration of the humanitarian situation to an unprecedented level.1 Despair and lack of hope about the foreseeable future fuel violence and the radicalization of a predominantly young Palestinian population whose prospects for employment and a normal life are virtually nil.

For full report: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde150932006

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