The Acts of the Democracies
A vegetable market is demolished in Hebron where the Israeli army also close three police stations and two television channels. These actions are against international law but are ignored by the West.
In Gaza, Israel uses helicopter gunships, tanks and armoured vehicles in a 7 hour night attack on Gaza City. 12 Palestinians are killed and 67 injured. In mid February, Israel sends 40 tanks into the city killing 11 people including Mundur Safadi, a medic tending to a man with chest injuries. In March, Nuha al-Magadmeh, a woman who is nine months pregnant, is crushed to death when Israeli forces blow up the house next door.
In Nablus a 65 year old UK woman, Anne Gwynne, is shot at by Israeli soldiers while working as a volunteer medical worker in a Palestinian ambulance. The driver is killed by a shot in the head. Shooting at medical services violates the Geneva Convention. 61 year old Ahmad abu Zahra and his 17 year old grandson are shot dead while walking during an Israeli imposed curfew.
In Rafah a 7 year old boy is killed by Israeli army fire. A 65 year old partially deaf woman, Kamla Said, is killed in Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza when Israeli forces demolish her home while she is inside. Her stepson states: "Israeli troops were acting in a brutal way. They got us all out of the house so fast and in an aggressive manner, they gave no chance for us to see who was out and who was in".
In Bethlehem Israeli forces construct a high concrete wall across the occupied city cutting off 500 people from their work, schools and community. One resident, Amjad Awwad, is told that if a doctor is required in the night, the hospital will have to telephone the Israeli government for permission. A series of fences and walls is being built around Jerusalem to protect illegally built settlements (colonies) in the West Bank.
After elections in Israel, a coalition forms including parties calling for the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank by force.
In March, TV film shows a Palestinian fireman, Naji Abu Jalili, being killed while putting out a fire in Jabalya by an Israeli tank shell. The shell is full of flachettes, arrow shaped pieces of metal designed to inflict mass casualties. Several people in a crowd opposite the building are also injured.
Israeli forces fire on people attempting to rescue the wounded. The wounded include Hamad Jadallah and Shams Odeh, journalists working for Reuters. The Israelis state that the man died from a booby trap in the building, a claim not supported by the film footage.
Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old citizen of the USA, is killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to protect a Palestinian house from being demolished in a refugee camp in Gaza. Another human shield, Nicholas Durie (Scotland, UK) explained "we were trying to frustrate their efforts by getting in front of the bulldozers. One of the drivers saw Rachel and drove towards her. She didn't get out of the way and he didn't stop. She was carried up with a heap of earth in the shovel of the buldozer. The driver continued working. She slipped and fell and was run over by the bulldozer. The driver saw that she had fallen, but carried her along for another 16 feet [5m]. Only then did he back off".
A senior Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat, stated: "Rachel died doing what world governments have failed to do - protecting defenceless civilians". A few months later, her parents visit the house she was protecting with the permission of the Israeli army. A UK television documentary shows them being shot at by Israeli snipers and bulldozers 30m from the house where they are visiting.
The bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes are manufactured the USA company, Caterpillar. It is estimated that 50,000 Palestinians have been made homeless by the company's D9 armoured bulldozer.
Tom Hurndall, a 21 year old human shield from London (UK), is shot in the head by an Israeli soldier while trying to lead a group of Palestinian children away from a gun fight in Rafah. His injuries leave him in a coma. His parents, Anthony and Jocelyn Hurndall, later visit the area from the UK to find out the circumstances. They are also shot at by Israeli soldiers at the Abu Khouli checkpoint while driving in a convoy organised by the UK Embassy and bearing diplomatic number plates. They had given notice of the journey on three occasions including a few minutes before the convoy arrived.
The Israeli army demolishes an apartment block in Hebron after an attack by non-residents on Israeli soldiers. Several families are left homeless. This form of collective punishment is common in the West Bank and Gaza and violates the Geneva Convention.
Two days before the USA invades Iraq, the President, George W Bush, and the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, both state that the USA is committed to a Palestinian state and publish a "road map" towards that goal. This story is publicised in all Western media. Within a day of this announcement, the Israel leader, Ariel Sharon states that he will not allow a viable, independent Palestinian state. This story is hardly reported in the West.
During the first week of the USA and UK invasion of Iraq, Israeli forces kill three children in the occupied territories: a girl aged 10 shot in a car she was travelling in; soldiers shot a 14 year old boy who had climbed onto an armoured car; a 15 year old boy who was throwing stones.
Five people are killed and 50 injured when Israeli forces fire a missile at a car in Gaza City. The bulk of the injuries occur when the jet fires at a crowd that had gathered around the damaged car.
More than 1000 men and boys are taken away at gunpoint in trucks from Tulkarem refugee camp.
In Rafah (a refugee camp in the Gaza strip), Israeli forces kill 5 Palestinians and injure over 40 when a large force is sent into the area.
In a 24 hour period, two journalists are shot dead by Israeli soldiers: In Nablus, Nazeh Darwazeh, 41, a cameraman who worked for Associated Press; in Rafah, Corporal Lior Ziv, 19, an Israeli army cameraman.
In late April, a "road map" for peace is published. The plan has been agreed by the USA, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
The plan calls for Palestinians to stop their violence but does not call on Israel to comply with UN resolutions concerning the occupation and settlements. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, calls on Palestinians to renounce the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees before he will negotiate on the plan.
The right of refugees to return to their homeland is a human right under the United Nations. The new Prime Minister of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas, (himself appointed after pressure from Israel and the USA) is a refugee from 1948. He asks "Why should I drop the Right of Return of refugees. It is not my right to drop it".
22 Arab states reiterate their call for complete withdrawal from the occupied territories, in return for complete recognition of Israel. This is under-reported in the West.
James Miller, a well known UK cameraman filming a documentary, is shot dead by Israeli forces in southern Gaza. The victim was wearing a helmet marked with TV, walking slowly towards an Israeli post with a white flag, and shouting in English and Arabic that he was a journalist, according to witnesses. An ambulance is called but is not allowed through. The Israeli government states that he was shot by Palestinians. A post-mortem disproves this and several weeks later the Israelis admit culpability and promise an enquiry. In practice, the site of the shooting is bulldozed and the weapons used are not impounded for 11 weeks. Two years later all discipliary action against the accused are dropped.
The Israeli army demands that any foreign national entering the Gaza strip sign a waiver releasing the army of all responsibility for their safety.
The Israeli army occupy the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun (population 35,000) for five days. Seven Palestinians are killed including 14 year old Muhammad al-Zaneen who was helping his father paint their house. 15 houses are demolished.
As the army departs from the town, they bulldoze 6000 orange trees over 300 hectares. Since 2000, the Israelis have destroyed 70% of the town's citrus groves. One of the owners, Maher al-Shawwa (42), describes one of his trees: "I took care of it for 15 years. It produces at 15. When it is 40, I can make a profit". He estimates his loss at hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of his workers, Ibrahim Hussein (59) was asleep outside his house when the bulldozers arrived: "They fired three shots at me and told me to stay inside. I saw five bulldozers. They destroyed the farm. I have lost my salary, and so have 29 other farmers".
After pressure from the USA, the Israel Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, convinces his skeptical parliament to accept the USA-sponsored "road map" to peace: "The idea that it is possible to continue keeping 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians and bad for the Israeli economy".
In June, Israel continues its policy of targeted killings (assassinations) of Palestinian leaders. In one incident in Gaza City, an Israeli helicopter fires into a civilian area killing 7 and injuring 33. A day later, 23 people, including children, are injured. The attacks have become so common that Palestinians now leave their cars when they hear helicopters flying overhead. Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace group, accuses the Israeli Prime Minister of deliberately using assassination to destroy the "road map".
In a 32 month period up to the end of May 2003, 762 Israelis and 2,274 Palestinians have been killed. Almost 7,500 Palestinians are held in 22 Israeli prisons, detention centres or military encampments. 1,134 homes have been demolished in the Gaza strip.
In the first half of 2003, 5000 Jewish "settlers" moved into the occupied territories bringing the total of "settlers" to 231,443. All are regarded as illegal under the Geneva Convention. During the year, Israel announces its intention to build over 600 houses in 3 West Bank "settlements".
Israel's largest human rights group, Civil Rights in Israel, accuses the government of Ariel Sharon of gross human rights violations in the occupied territories including the use of human shields.
Israel continues its construction of a "security" fence despite international criticism. The fence is being constructed entirely on occupied Palestinian land, cutting the West Bank into a series of cantons (or reservations). The United Nations estimates that the completed fence will cut off 240,000 Palestinians from their communities and leave 160,000 Palestinians in enclaves surrounded by the barrier.
The fence will cut off 16.6% of the West Bank. The Israeli army issues an order that Palestinians living between the fence and the 1967 borders must obtain special permits to travel. Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, tells the UK newspaper, The Observer, "Israel is the promised land - promised to Jews and to no-one else".
In August, Israel passes a law that forbids Palestinians who marry Israelis from living in Israel. Citizens of all other countries who marry Israelis will not be affected by the new law. Children will also be affected after the age of 12. Several international and Israeli human rights organisations declare the law to be discriminatory and anti-democratic.
In Nablus, Israeli undercover troops (disguised as vegetable merchants) break into a hospital and seize two Palestinians with whom they had a gun fight. The men were being treated in intensive care. This act is a violation of the Geneva Convention. In Gaza, Israeli helicopter gunships fire into a residential area.
In September, the Israeli parliament agrees to expel the Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat, from the occupied West Bank.
The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution urging Israel to refrain from deporting Arafat. The UK, Germany and Bulgaria abstain from the vote. During the debate 40 governments condemned Israel for its decision to "remove" Arafat.
Sana Al-Daour, a ten year old Palestinian girl, is killed when the car she is travelling in is hit by an Israeli missile fired from a helicopter. Amira Hass, a journalist for the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, quotes figures that suggest that 80% of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces have no connection to armed resistance to the occupation.
In October, Israeli forces destroy 114 houses in Gaza, killing several people including children. United Nations officials estimated that 1,240 people had been left homeless including 10 year old Yasser Abu Swelen who said "I don't have a house, a bed or schoolbooks anymore". Eye-witnesses report residents running as bulldozers advanced: "Suddenly, a bulldozer was hitting the back of my house. We were ten people. We ran away. I saw barefooted women carrying children, with hardly any clothes on. I and my family went to Kholafa al-Rashedeen mosque. The army dug holes around my house. I am in the mosque with 200 people. Our house...is partly demolished". Many people tell of the demolitions being done at night and of being given little time to take anything. Hundreds of people are forced to live in the changing rooms of the football stadium. 45 people end up in the first aid room measuring 5m square. Others end up living in ruined buildings. The Israeli army demolish three apartment blocks in Netzarim Junction (in Gaza) after clearing more than 2,000 Palestinians from their homes.
Little of these events is shown or reported in the Western media.
Many people were badly wounded after a helicopter fired a missile into a building; some had to have limbs amputated, including 11 year old Louai Barhoum. Over 50 people were injured.
A few days later, the USA vetoes a United Nations resolution condemning the continued building of a fence by Israel on Palestinian land.
27 reservists are grounded by the Israeli air force for refusing to take part in assassinations of Palestinians.
In October, Israeli forces bomb targets in Syria. The USA refuses to condemn the action by stating that "Israel must not feel constrained in terms of defending the homeland". So, Palestinians are not allowed to fight for their homeland by attacking regions outside their (occupied) borders but Israelis are. This message does not go down well with the Arab peoples of the Middle East.
Peace Now, an Israeli peace group, declares that of the 104 settlements in Palestine, that Israel has pledged to remove, it has removed only 7, all staged for the media. Five new ones were set up.
In November, the USA complains to Israel after their soldiers destroyed a number of water wells build by a USA aid agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) for civilian use in Gaza. At the same time the USA agreed $2,000 million of military aid to Israel for 2005, an increase of $60 million over 2004.
The table below lists the casualties in this conflict for the three years up to September 2003.
|Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian attacks||552|
|Israeli civilians under 18 years old killed by Palestinian attacks||100|
|Israeli occupation soldiers killed by Palestinian attacks||246|
|Palestinians killed by Israeli attacks||2197|
|Palestinians under 18 years old killed by Israeli attacks||399|
|Palestinian children under 15 killed by Israeli attacks||200|
|Palestinians assassinated by Israeli forces||123|
|Palestinian bystanders killed by Israeli forces||84|