More than 100 houses destroyed
Photo: AFP
'Blatant disregard of human rights'
Photo: AFP

Amnesty: Siege on Gaza gravest humanitarian crisis yet

While Israel marks lowest number of casualties caused by terror attacks in 2007 since beginning of second intifada, Amnesty International reports 370 Palestinians killed in territories, deems siege imposed by Israel on Gaza 'unprecedented'

Amnesty International has released its 60th annual report, and the picture it paints is not a cheerful one, especially where Israel is concerned. The organization has called the situation in Gaza "the gravest humanitarian crisis to date", though it condemned the rocket fire from the Strip.


The report states that over 370 Palestinians were killed by IDF fire, of which half were civilians and 50 were children. Thousands were injured during the attacks, which were launched in retaliation to Qassam rocket fire and the shooting at Israeli settlements and IDF checkpoints near Gaza by Palestinian gunmen.

Palestinian father mourns family killed in Beit Hanoun attack. (Photo: Reuters)


Aside from the killing of civilians and the destruction of over 100 Palestinian homes, the report states that "in June, the Israeli government imposed an unprecedented blockade on the Gaza Strip, virtually imprisoning its entire 1.5 million people population, subjecting them to collective punishment and causing the gravest humanitarian crisis to date."


The report further stated that "more than 550 Israeli military checkpoints and blockades restricted or prevented the movement of Palestinians between towns and villages in the West Bank," and that "40 Palestinians died after being refused passage out of Gaza for urgent medical treatment not available in local hospitals."


Illegal construction in the settlements was also cited, as well as the construction of the separation fence, which detached many Palestinians from their lands and families.


It went on to say that "thousands of Palestinians were arrested, most of whom were released without charge. Those charged with security-related offences often received unfair trials before military courts." Those convicted were often held in Israeli prisons contrary to humanitarian laws, and were often subjected to abuse and torture.  

Grad rocket attack site in Ashkelon commercial center (Photo: Amir Cohen)


'Holding citizens hostage'

The report also condemned the armed Palestinian factions for attempting to harm Israeli citizens through Qassam rocket fire and terror attacks. It also condemned the infringement of human rights in the Palestinian Authority, including the political battles that erupted between different groups in the West Bank and Gaza, which brought on chaos and the absence of a legal regime.


The report also mentioned the arbitrary arrests and torture committed in the Palestinian territories, as well as the firing of artillery at civilian homes and hospitals.


"Israel is the only democratic country conducting a regime of steady occupation," Secretary General of Amnesty International in Israel Amnon Vidan said in response to the report. "We believe that Israel uses force in an unequal degree. It is comparable to holding citizens as hostages – and we do not accept that.


"We have witnessed many instances of blatant disregard for human rights towards those who threaten our safety, or who are perceived as such, in the name of security and the retaining of Jewish identity," Vidan said.


"The Palestinians in the territories, the African refugees at the border, the women traded in city centers and the communities that remain disconnected from electricity and water have one thing in common: The erroneous concept according to which the security of one (people) can be ensured by taking the other's rights away."


פרסום ראשון: 05.28.08, 07:06
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