This is the first quarterly field report of 2010 by Al-Haq's Monitoring and Documentation Department (MDD), covering the period from January to March 2010. 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. 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 occupied the OPT, despite numerous binding 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 violations perpetrated by the PNA and Hamas‟ Executive Forces (EF). 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 and 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 this 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 Israel‟s persistent failure to adhere to its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law in the OPT. The situation has become especially bleak in the Gaza Strip, where Israel has, since June 2007, imposed a continuing blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, and in December 2008, launched a devastating 22-day military offensive referred to as “Operation Cast Lead” in which over 1,400 Palestinians were killed, 1,172 of whom were civilians. 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. Over the past three years however, Al-Haq fieldworkers have been able to thoroughly document the devastating consequences of the blockade, as well as the impact and continuing effects of “Operation Cast Lead” on the Gaza Strip.
According to Al-Haq's documentation, from the outbreak of the second Intifada until the end of March 2010, 1,904 Palestinians were killed by Israeli occupying forces in the West Bank, 372 of whom were children, and 103 of whom were female. It is estimated that 313 Palestinians were killed in targeted assassinations in the West Bank. During the same period, Al-Haq documented the demolition, for punitive reasons, of 573 houses1 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 license. Since the beginning of 2004, 678 Palestinian houses in the West Bank have been administratively demolished, 319 of which were in East Jerusalem.