The past year saw a sharp rise in the number of civilians killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an Israeli human rights group reported on Wednesday.
An annual report from the Jerusalem-based B’Tselem showed that in 2011, Israeli security forces killed a total of 105 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, of whom 37 were confirmed as non-combatants.
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“The picture is harsh, not because of dramatic events or a sudden deterioration, but precisely because of the routine,” the report said.
Scene of Fogel family murders in West Bank
“This year, we enter the 45th year since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. What was supposed to be a temporary situation appears firmly entrenched with no change in sight.”
Israel captured the West Bank, the Golan Heights, mainly Arab east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Six-Day War, but pulled its settlers and soldiers out of Gaza in 2005.
Israeli construction in West Bank (Photo: EPA)
The 63-page B’Tselem report said that the 2010 Gaza total was 68 fatalities, of whom 18 were not taking part in hostilities.
In the West Bank and east Jerusalem, it said, Israelis killed 11 Palestinians in 2011, although it could not give a definitive breakdown of how many were engaged in hostilities.
“Human rights violations are inherent in a military occupation, and the protracted nature of Israel’s occupation only exacerbates human rights violations,” B’Tselem quoted its executive director, Jessica Montell, as saying.
"We'll continue trying to decrease (the number of human rights violations) as much as possible, but it is clear that as long as the occupation exists the Palestinians will not be able to fully realize their rights."
Between January and December 2011, B’Tselem said, Palestinians killed 11 Israeli civilians, among them a couple and three of their children murdered in their West Bank settlement home.
Eight of the deaths occurred in the West Bank, two in rocket attacks on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip and one from a bomb in Jerusalem.
In 2010 five Israeli civilians, two foreign nationals and three members of the Israeli security forces were killed, the report added.
The report also noted that Hamas' courts in Gaza sentenced eight people to death in 2011. Three of them were executed. The Palestinian Authority's courts in the West Bank sentenced one person to death last year.
The report also indicates a steady decrease in the number of underage Palestinians being held in Israeli detention facilities. In 2011 some 200 Palestinian minors were held in Israel on any given month, compared with a monthly average of 320 minors in 2008.
According to B'Tselem's data, 650 indictments were filed against Palestinian minors two years ago. Some 40% of them were charged with throwing stones at Israeli security forces, while others were charged with hurling Molotov cocktails and belonging to illegal organizations.
The report further claimed that 39% of all construction starts authorized by the State last year were beyond the Green Line. Most construction starts were in east Jerusalem's Israeli neighborhoods. The rights group said Israel has stepped up its efforts to expand existing Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern part of the capital.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response: "The army is in constant contact with human rights groups, including B'Tselem. The report will be thoroughly reviewed. "
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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