By: Daniel Breslau
Week 2,010 of occupation
8 December 2005 - 14 December 2005
On Thursday, 8 December, Israel assassinated two militants of the al Aksa Martyrs` Brigade by firing a missile at the house where they were staying in the northern Gaza Strip. Six others, including a 6-year-old girl who was in the neighboring house, were injured. The assassination took place against an escalation in attacks across the Gaza border. Israel announced the continuation of its assassination policy after five Israelis were killed in an attack in Netanya on Monday.
On Wednesday, 14 December, the Israeli Air Force carried out another attack, firing missiles at a car carrying four militants of the Salah al-Din Brigades of the Popular Resistance Committees, a Fatah faction. Israel claims that the four were on their way to carry out an attack at the Karni crossing. If this is the case, and if there was no chance of arresting the militants, then this may be a rare instance of an attack that has a legal justification. There has been no independent verification of the plans of the four militants.
Israel also carried out another assassination attempt, against Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib, by firing a missile at Habib`s car as he travelled in Gaza City. Habib managed to jump from his car before it was hit, and suffered only light injuries.
Meanwhile, several court challenges have been mounted against Israel`s targeted assassination policy. The Public Committee Against Torture has petitioned the High Court of Justice to declare the policy illegal. The State Prosecutor`s Office has defended the policy by saying that the Gaza Strip is no longer an occupied territory, and that therefore the legal framework governing Israel`s actions is not that of an occupying power, but the laws of war. The government`s position thereby also confirms that one rationale for the disengagement was to free the hands of the IDF to operate against Palestinians in Gaza.
Huge new outpost built on stolen land
The route of the annexation wall, cutting off the village of Bil`in from a large portion of its lands, was designed expressly for the purpose of to annexing an entire illegal neighborhood of the ultraorthodox settlement of Modi`in Ilit. Developers, the Civil Administration, the head of the Modi`in Ilit council, and the council`s engineer, were all complicit in planning and constructing 750 housing units in violation of the law. Over 500 of these units have already been sold. The construction also violates Israel`s stated commitment to the U.S. not to allow construction outside of limits of existing settlements, and its obligation under the `Road Map` to halt all construction in the occupied territories.
The wall blocks access to medical care
In a report released on Wednesday, Physicians for Human Rights documented the impact of the wall around Jerusalem on access to routine and emergency medical care. The Palestinian villages around East Jerusalem, which are cut off from the city by the wall, have been most severely effected. Chronically ill patients, those requiring kidney dialysis, and others requiring emergency treatment have been either delayed or completely prevented from getting the care they need, due to the cumbersome process of applying for permits and crossing through checkpoints.
Collective punishment at Qalandiya
After military policeman Nir Kahane was stabbed to death at the Kalandia checkpoint on 8 December, observers at the checkpoint noticed a systematic campaign of punishment carried out against the many Palestinian civilians who are forced to pass through the checkpoint every day. Despite the fact that Kahane`s assailant was immediately arrested, and was found to be mentally disturbed, the checkpoint remained closed for several. It was only gradually opened, first only to holders of Israeli identity cards and schoolchildren. While it was closed, travellers to Ramallah were forced to take a two hour detour.
On 12 December, while the checkpoint was still open only to holders of blue (Israeli) ID cards, soldiers were deliberately slowing down the flow as a line of at least 100 formed. Observers from Machsom Watch report that soldiers stated their desire for revenge as the reason for deliberately creating a huge backup at the turnstile, crushing those waiting, including infants and children. Two children were beaten by soldiers for no apparent reason other than revenge.
Sources: IMEMC, Ha`aretz, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, Machsom Watch.