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Amnesty accuses israel of rights abuses impunity

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Amnesty accuses Israel of 'serious rights abuses'
May 23 07:43 AM US/Eastern

Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers committed "serious human rights abuses" against the Palestinians in 2006, mostly with impunity, Amnesty International said in its annual report issued Wednesday.

It also said civilians bore the brunt of rising violence last year between Israelis and Palestinians that saw a three-fold jump in Palestinians killed, although the number of Israelis killed fell by half.

During the 34-day Lebanon conflict last summer "both Hezbollah and Israel committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes," said the report.

"In particular Israeli forces carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on a large scale."

"Israeli forces also appear to have carried out direct attacks on civilian infrastructure intended to inflict a form of collective punishment on Lebanon's people."

Meanwhile "Hezbollah's rocket attacks on northern Israel amounted to deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, as well as indiscriminate attacks.

"Its attacks also violated other rules of international humanitarian law, including the prohibition on reprisal attacks on the civilian population."

In the Palestinian territories, Israeli air and artillery strikes killed some 650 people, half of them unarmed civilians and including some 120 children, "a three-fold increase compared with 2005."

Much of the killing occurred in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli offensive launched after militants there seized a soldier in a deadly cross-border raid in late June.

Palestinian militant groups killed 21 Israeli civilians, including one child, half the figure of the previous year and the lowest since the intifada flared in September 2000.

But rockets fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza into Israel saw a "significant increase" compared with the previous year and killed two civilians.

The number of attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank decreased after a supreme court ruling ordering the army and police to protect farmers working their land, but several more such attacks were carried out nonetheless.

"Israeli soldiers and settlers committed serious human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, against Palestinians, mostly with impunity," said the Amnesty report.

The Israeli justice system continued to show wide discrepancies, with harsh responses against Palestinians suspected of attacks on Israelis, and lenient or no measures against Israeli soldiers and settlers accused of unlawful killings and abuse of Palestinians.

"Military blockades and increased restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of Palestinians and the confiscation by Israel of Palestinian custom duties caused a significant deterioration in living conditions for Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories, with poverty, food aid dependency, health problems and unemployment reaching crisis levels."

Israel began withholding custom duties collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority after Hamas, which it considers a terror group, came to power.

Copyright AFP 2005

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