This is the second quarterly field report of 2009 by Al-Haq's Monitoring and Documentation Department (MDD), covering the period from April to June 2009.1 Al-Haq’s field reports cover human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed by Israel, the Occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. In addition to Israeli violations, the report also covers human rights abuses committed by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank and those committed by the de facto Hamas authority in the Gaza Strip.
Since 1967, Israel has been in occupation of the OPT, despite numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions ordering it to withdraw. Consequently, Al-Haq's monitoring and documentation activities have traditionally been directed towards the violations committed by Israel, the Occupying Power. However, following the creation of the PNA in 1994 and the establishment of Hamas' de facto authority over the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Al-Haq also monitors and documents the PNA's and Hamas' respect for international human rights standards in the OPT. To the extent that the PNA and Hamas exercise some control over parts of the OPT, they are responsible for enforcing law and order through effective and lawful measures.
Each field report highlights a particularly important or disturbing trend observed by the MDD during the reporting
period. The field reports are based on first-hand information gathered by Al-Haq’s trained fieldworkers. The fieldworkers visit sites of alleged violations; they draw maps, draft reports and take sworn statements (affidavits) from victims and eyewitnesses. The information they collect comprehensively covers a broad range of violations, including, but not limited to, killings, house demolitions and imposed curfews. The affidavits excerpted or referenced in the field reports are available on Al-Haq’s web site (www.alhaq.org), as samples of those gathered during the reporting period.
The Human Rights Situation since the Outbreak of the Second Intifada
The violations committed during the reporting period must be analysed within the broader context of the deteriorating human rights situation since the outbreak of the second Intifada on 29 September 2000, and, in particular, Israel’s persistent failure to adhere to its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law in the OPT. Al-Haq’s lack of presence in the Gaza Strip before June 2007 has resulted in an inability to compile comprehensive statistical information dating back to the start of the second Intifada, similar to that obtained for the West Bank. However, Al Haq has been able to thoroughly document the effects of Israel’s military offensive, “Operation Cast Lead,” carried out on the Gaza Strip and has produced a special report on the Operation, which is available on Al-Haq’s web site.
According to Al-Haq's documentation, from the outbreak of the second Intifada until the end of June 2009, 1,888 Palestinians were killed by Israeli Occupying forces in the West Bank, 366 of whom were children, and 103 of whom were female. It is estimated that 310 Palestinians were killed in targeted assassinations. During the same period, Al-Haq documented the demolition, for punitive reasons, of 572 houses3 in the West Bank (of which 504 were totally demolished, 63 were partially demolished and 6 sealed off), leading to the forcible displacement of 3,351 Palestinians. Israel has also carried out a large number of administrative house demolitions, i.e. demolitions purportedly carried out because the houses were built without the required licence. Since the beginning of 2004, 618 Palestinian houses in the West Bank have been administratively demolished, 301 of which were in East Jerusalem. Since the outbreak of the second Intifada, Israel has almost completely eliminated the already limited authority of the PNA in the OPT. Israel’s destruction of ministerial buildings, arrests of PNA officials and unlawful withholding of PNA tax revenues have severely limited the ability of the PNA to carry out its most basic functions, including the upholding of law and order. Many of these policies were intensified following the victory of Hamas in the democratic Palestinian elections of 2006. In the Gaza Strip, the de facto Hamas government is plagued by economic and diplomatic isolation and its ability to carry out administrative functions is therefore limited.