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Amnesty accused idf of crimes against humanity { May 24 2005 }

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May. 24, 2005 22:12 | Updated May. 25, 2005 10:40
Amnesty Int'l: IDF committed war crimes

Amnesty International on Tuesday accused the IDF of actions constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes in its annual report on the state of the world's human rights.

The report, which covers the year 2004, was due to be officially presented on Wednesday morning to President Moshe Katsav.

"Certain abuses committed by the Israeli army constituted crimes against humanity and war crimes, including unlawful killings, extensive and wanton destruction of property, obstruction of medical assistance and targeting of medical personnel, torture and the use of Palestinians as 'human shields,'" the Amnesty International (AI) report charged.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev said in response, "We strongly reject any assertion that the Israeli army has been involved in war crimes. Such an assertion would seem to indicate a very one-sided and extremist position."

Regev added that the Foreign Ministry "will study the report very carefully after we receive it and we will make precise comments at a later date."

The report dealt with several topics which it described as follows: killings and attacks by the Israeli army, 'human shields,' attacks by Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories, impunity, collective punishment and closures and violations of economic and social rights, detainees and releases, violence against women and discrimination.
It also discussed killings and attacks against Israelis by what it described as armed Palestinian groups.

According to the report, the IDF killed around 700 Palestinians including some 150 children, most of them unlawfully. "Many were killed in deliberate as well as reckless shooting, shelling and bombardment of densely populated residential areas or as a result of excessive use of force," AI charged.

It added that 120 Palestinians were killed in targeted assassinations, including 30 bystanders of whom four were children.

AI charged that the army continued to use Palestinians as 'human shields' during military operations, forcing them to carry out tasks that endangered their lives.

The report said that Israeli settlers stepped up their attack on Palestinians and their property and also on international activists. They destroyed and damaged trees owned by Palestinians and prevented Palestinian farmers from harvesting their crops.

According to AI, neither soldiers involved in unlawful killings nor settlers were punished. "In the overwhelming majority of the thousands of cases of unlawful killings and other grave human rights violations committed by Israeli soldiers in the previous four years, no investigations were known to have been carried out," the report stated.

AI accused the army of carrying out large-scale destruction of Palestinian houses and property and said the destruction exceeded previous years by far. The destruction included several hundred homes, mostly in the Gaza Strip, as well as large areas of agricultural land, roads and water, electricity and communications infrastructure.

The report criticized Israel for "continuing to impose stringent restrictions on the movements of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories."

These included establishing military checkpoints and blockades and hindering or preventing access to education and medical facilities and other crucial services. AI charged that the restrictions were the key cause of high unemployment and poverty among the Palestinian population.

AI wrote that Palestinian "armed groups" killed 67 Israelis including eight children, and 42 soldiers. Most of the civilians were killed in suicide bombings.

Regarding the Palestinian Authority, AI wrote that the internal security situation had significantly deteriorated because of power struggles and disagreements within the PA and between the PA and other factions.

These disagreements resulted in frequent armed clashes, attacks on individuals and property and abductions. Palestinian armed groups killed 18 "collaborators," and continued to carry out attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza and inside Israel.

AI also criticized the Palestinian groups for using children to attack Israel. Two minors carried out suicide bombings and others were arrested by Israel for their alleged involvement in such actions.

According to the report, the PA arrested 750 Palestinians, most of them without trial. "There were reports of torture and ill-treatment, including beatings and sleep deprivation by various Palestinian security services," wrote AI.

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