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Amnesty: Israel killed more than 650 Palestinians in 2006

Monday 4 June 2007

In May the human rights group Amnesty International released its 2007 report on “Israel and the Occupied Territories,” summarising 2006. During the year Israel killed more than 650 Palestinians, which is “a threefold increase in killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces.” 120 of the murdered Palestinians were children. The high number, Amnesty writes, was due to the fact that “Israeli forces carried out frequent air and artillery bombardments against the Gaza Strip, often into densely populated refugee camps and residential areas.”

Palestinian militants, on the other hand, only killed 27 Israelis in 2006:

“Killings of Israelis by Palestinian armed groups continued but decreased to half the previous year’s figure and to the lowest level since the beginning of the intifada in 2000. In total, 21 Israeli civilians, including a child, and six soldiers were killed in Palestinian attacks in Israel and the Occupied Territories.”

This means that Israel killed about 25 times more Palestinians than vice versa. The report also notes that Jewish settlers attacked Palestinians and Palestinian property at numerous occasions. In some cases Israeli soldiers witnessed the assault without intervening. One such event was on November 18th when 19-year old Swedish activist Tove Johansson was severely beaten by Jewish settlers in Hebron. Johansson, who worked with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and was in Hebron to accompany Palestinian children on their way back from school, “was struck with a broken bottle and sustained facial injuries [while] Israeli soldiers at a nearby checkpoint took no action to stop the attack or apprehend the perpetrators.” The ISM reported on its website that before attacking her, the Jewish settlers had shouted: “We killed Jesus, we’ll kill you too!”

Further, the Amnesty report says that Israel, during its 34-day war on neighbouring Lebanon—which broke out when Israel invaded the country on the 12th of July—killed almost 1,200 Lebanese, “including hundreds of children.” Hezbollah rockets left 43 Israeli civilians dead and about three times as many Israeli soldiers were killed in the war. Amnesty strongly criticises Israel’s behaviour during the last days of warfare.

“In the final days of the war, after the terms of the ceasefire had been agreed, Israeli forces launched hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs containing up to 4 million bomblets into south Lebanon. The million or so unexploded bomblets that were left continued to kill and maim civilians long after the end of the war. Some 200 people, including tens of children, had been killed or injured by these bomblets and newly laid mines by the end of the year. Despite repeated requests, Israel did not provide detailed maps of the exact locations where its forces launched cluster bombs to the UN bodies mandated to clear unexploded ordnance.”

Amnesty also expresses concern that the 700-km wall Israeli is constructing—“80 per cent of which runs inside the occupied West Bank”—along with 500 checkpoints, is making life difficult for West Bank Palestinians. In the Gaza Strip, life is tough as well, partly because “the Rafah crossing to Egypt, the only entry and exit point for the 1.5 million Palestinian residents, was kept completely or partially closed by the Israeli authorities for most of the year. The passage of goods was similarly restricted by the Israeli authorities’ frequent and prolonged closures of the Karni merchandise crossing, the only one they permit.”

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