Report on Human Rights Practices
The Occupied Territories
(Including Areas Subject
Jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority)
Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and East
Jerusalem during the 1967 War. The West Bank and Gaza Strip now are
administered to varying extents by Israel and the Palestinian Authority
(PA). Pursuant to the May 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement and the September
1995 Interim Agreement, Israel transferred most responsibilities for
civil government in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank to the
PA while retaining responsibility for external security; foreign relations;
the overall security of Israelis, including public order in the Israeli
settlements; and certain other matters (this annex on the occupied territories
should be read in conjunction with the report on Israel).
The historic process of reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians,
which began with the Madrid Conference in 1991 and continued with the
September 1993 signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles
(DOP) and subsequent agreements, has been impeded significantly by the
ongoing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, known as the "al-Aqsa
Intifada," or merely the Intifada. Violence associated with the
conflict has claimed approximately 1,000 Palestinian lives. The Intifada
started in late September 2000. Its causes are complex and remain highly
controversial between the parties. During the initial stage of the Intifada,
Palestinian demonstrators threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli
security forces. The security forces responded using rubber-coated metal
bullets and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, resulting
in injuries and deaths. Demonstrations and clashes continued daily though
the end of 2000 and throughout the year. The nature of the violence
changed during this year, leading to increased armed attacks and terrorism
by Palestinians against Israeli targets. In addition to violent demonstrations,
Palestinians attacked Israelis, including settlers, other civilians,
and soldiers, on a daily basis in the occupied territories and Israel
proper, including by suicide bombings, using other types of bombs, shooting
at Israeli vehicles and military installations, firing of anti-tank
missiles and mortars, and use of hand grenades. IDF retaliation against
Palestinians included violence and abuse at checkpoints, incursions
into Palestinian-controlled towns and villages, targeted killings, firing
toward civilian areas, and intense gun battles with Palestinian shooters.
In October 2000, pursuant to an international conference held in Sharm
el-Sheikh, a fact-finding committee headed by former U.S. Senate leader
George Mitchell was established to examine the causes of the violent
events that began in late September 2000 and to recommend ways to prevent
their recurrence. The committee began its work in December 2000. The
report of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee was published on
April 30, and both Israel and the PA agreed in principle to implement
its recommendations, along with the Tenet Plan, which outlines specific
steps that both the Israeli Government and the PA should take to maintain
a cease-fire, restore security, and resume political negotiation. None
of the provisions of the Report or the Plan had been implemented by
During 2000 and early in the year, the parties held intensive talks
concerning final status issues, including water rights, refugees, settlers,
the status of Jerusalem, and border and security issues, most notably
in July 2000 and in Taba in January; however, they did not reach an
agreement by year's end. Despite meetings between high level Israeli
and Palestinian political and security officials, and repeated declarations
of cease-fires by both sides, efforts to end the violence yielded few
results by year's end.
Israel and the PA have varying degrees of control and jurisdiction
over the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israel continues to control certain
civil functions and is responsible for all security in portions of the
occupied territories categorized as Area C. In the West Bank, this constitutes
more than 61 percent of the land, and approximately 4 percent of the
total West Bank Palestinian population, including the Israeli settlements.
In Gaza more than 12 percent of the land is designated as Area C equivalent,
and includes the Israeli settlements. In areas designated as Area B,
the PA has jurisdiction over civil affairs and shares security responsibilities
with Israel. Approximately 21 percent of West Bank land is Area B, and
approximately 41 percent of the West Bank Palestinian population resides
there. The Area B equivalent in Gaza constitutes almost 19 percent of
the land. The PA has control over civil affairs and security in Area
A; however, contrary to the terms of the Interim Agreement, Israeli
forces entered cities and villages in Area A for periods of a few hours
up to several weeks during the year. The West Bank Area A constitutes
nearly 18 percent of the land, and includes roughly 55 percent of the
West Bank Palestinian population. The Gaza Area A equivalent constitutes
approximately 69 percent of the land. The PA also has jurisdiction over
some civil affairs in Area C, as specified in the Interim Agreement.
Israel continues to exercise civil authority in parts of the West Bank
and Gaza through the Israeli Ministry of Defense's Office of Coordination
and Liaison, known by the Hebrew acronym MATAK. The approximately 175,000
Israeli settlers living in Area C of the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip
are subject to Israeli law and, as citizens, receive preferential treatment
from Israeli authorities in terms of protection of personal and property
rights and of legal redress. The body of law governing Palestinians
in the occupied territories derives from Ottoman, British Mandate, Jordanian,
and Egyptian law, and Israeli military orders. Certain laws and regulations
promulgated by the PA also are in force. The international community
considers Israel's authority in the occupied territories to be subject
to the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the 1949 Geneva Convention relating
to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War. The Israeli Government
considers the Hague Regulations applicable and maintains that it largely
observes the Geneva Convention's humanitarian provisions.
In January 1996, Palestinians chose their first popularly elected Government
in democratic elections that generally were free and fair; the 88-member
Palestinian Council (PC) and the Chairman of the Executive Authority
were elected. The PA also has a cabinet of 30 ministers. Chairman Yasir
Arafat continues to dominate the affairs of government and to make major
decisions. Most senior government positions in the PA are held by individuals
who are members of, or loyal to, Arafat's Fatah faction of the Palestinian
Liberation Organization (PLO). Prior to the Intifada, the Council met
regularly to discuss issues significant to the Palestinian people; however,
it did not have significant influence on policy or the behavior of the
executive. On December 2, Arafat invoked a state of emergency that granted
him broad powers to make arrests, prohibit demonstrations, and take
action against organizations that the PA suspects are affiliated with
terrorist groups. In the West Bank, pre-1967 Jordanian law and PA laws
apply. In recent years, the PA had stated that it was undertaking efforts
to unify the Gaza and West Bank legal codes; however, it has made little
progress. The PA courts are perceived as inefficient, and the PA executive
and security services frequently ignore or fail to carry out court decisions.
Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip consist of
the IDF; the Israel Security Agency (the ISA-formerly the General Security
Service, or GSS, and also known as Shin Bet, or Shabak); the Israeli
National Police (INP); and the paramilitary border police. Israeli military
courts try Palestinians accused of committing security crimes in Israeli-controlled
areas. Members of the Israeli security forces committed numerous, serious
human rights abuses throughout the year.
The Palestinian Police Force (PPF) was established in May 1994 and
includes the Palestinian Public Security Force; the Palestinian Civil
Police; the Preventive Security Force (PSF); the General Intelligence
Service, or Mukhabarat; the Palestinian Presidential Security Force;
and the Palestinian Coastal Police. Other quasi-military security organizations,
such as the military intelligence organization, also exercise de facto
law enforcement powers. Palestinian police are responsible for security
and law enforcement for Palestinians and other non-Israelis in PA-controlled
areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli settlers in the occupied
territories are not subject to PA security force jurisdiction. Members
of the PA security forces committed numerous, serious human rights abuses
throughout the year.
The occupied territories are composed of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank,
and East Jerusalem. The population of the Gaza Strip is approximately
1,140,000. The population of the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem)
is approximately 2,191,300. The population of East Jerusalem is approximately
390,000. The economy of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is small, poorly
developed, and highly dependent on Israel, and it has been impacted
severely by the Israeli security measures imposed in response to the
Intifada. The economy relies primarily on agriculture, services, and,
to a lesser extent, light manufacturing. Before the beginning of the
Intifada, approximately 125,000 West Bank and Gazan workers, representing
roughly 20 percent of the Palestinian work force, were employed at day
jobs in Israel, Israeli settlements, and Jerusalem. Israeli-imposed
closures, or increased restrictions, on Palestinian cities and towns
have impeded Palestinians from reaching jobs or markets and disrupted
internal and external trade. In addition the IDF and settlers have destroyed
sections of Palestinian-owned agricultural land and economic infrastructure.
The Government of Israel stated that some of these actions, such as
the destruction of groves alongside roadways by the IDF, were necessary
for security reasons. Some human rights groups stated that these actions
often exceeded what was required for security. The adjusted unemployment
rate was roughly 38 percent throughout the year. The poverty rate in
the PA was 33 percent at the end of 2000 and was estimated at 50 percent
by the end of the year.
Since the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian DOP in 1993, Israel has
required Palestinians to obtain Israeli permits for themselves and their
vehicles to cross from the West Bank or Gaza into Israel and Jerusalem.
In times of tension, Israel further restricts the movement of persons
and products into Israel and Jerusalem from the West Bank and Gaza.
Citing security concerns, Israel has applied partial "external
closure," or enhanced restrictions, on the movement of persons
and products, often for lengthy periods, since 1993. During periods
of violent protest in the West Bank or Gaza, or when it believes that
there is an increased likelihood of such unrest or of terrorist attacks
in Israel, Israel imposes a tightened, comprehensive version of external
closure, generally referred to as total external closure. Total external
closures also are instituted regularly during major Israeli holidays.
During such closures, Israel cancels all travel permits and prevents
Palestinians--even those with valid work permits--from entering Israel
or Jerusalem. The Israeli Government also bans travel on the safe passage
route between the West Bank and Gaza at such times. Due to the ongoing
unrest in the occupied territories, Israel imposed 210 days of total
external closure during the year and 155 days of partial external closure,
compared with 88 days of closure in 2000 and 15 days in 1999. The safe
passage route was not open at all during the year, despite the fact
that its existence is stipulated in the 1995 Interim Agreement, signed
by both parties.
In periods of unrest in the West Bank and Gaza or heightened terrorist
activity in Israel, the Israeli Government also prohibits most travel
between cities, towns, and villages within the West Bank--an "internal
closure"--impeding the movement of goods and persons. During the
year, Israel expanded its use of internal closure further in response
to the sustained violence of the Intifada. The internal closures may
be severe--prohibiting Palestinians from using primary roads and closing
off many secondary roads with physical barricades--or limited, allowing
access to Palestinians on most secondary roads, but only some main roads,
with roadblocks and checkpoints dispersed along those roads that are
open. The Government of Israel imposed approximately 87 days of limited
internal closure and 278 days of severe internal closure in the West
Bank during the year, compared with 81 days of internal closure in 2000
and no days in 1999. Prior to the current Intifada, the Government of
Israel rarely imposed internal closure within Gaza. However, during
the year, the Israeli Government imposed roughly 361 days of limited
internal closure and 4 days of severe internal closure in Gaza. Israeli
forces further restricted freedom of movement of Palestinians by imposing
curfews, often for extended periods, on specific Palestinian towns or
neighborhoods. These curfews do not apply to Israeli settlers in the
Israel's overall human rights record in the occupied territories was
poor, continuing a deterioration that began in late 2000, after the
beginning of the sustained violence of the Intifada. Israeli security
forces committed numerous, serious human rights abuses during the year.
Security forces killed at least 501 Palestinians and 1 foreign national
and injured 6,300 Palestinians and other persons during the year, including
innocent bystanders. Israeli security forces targeted and killed at
least 33 Palestinians whom the Israeli authorities suspected had in
the past attacked or were planning to attack Israeli settlements, civilians,
or military targets. On August 27, Israeli forces also killed the secretary
general of the political wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine (PFLP), which some claimed expanded the scope of such operations
to include political figures. Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups
stated that four of those killed were not directly involved in terrorist
activities. At least 18 other persons, including 4 children, killed
by Israeli forces during such operations were bystanders, relatives,
or associates of those targeted.
In contravention of their own rules of engagement, which provide that
live fire is to be used only when the lives of soldiers, police, or
civilians are in imminent danger, Israeli security units often used
excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators including live fire.
IDF forces also shelled PA institutions and Palestinian civilian areas
in response to Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets. Israeli security
forces killed 93 Palestinians and injured 1,500 in these attacks. The
IDF killed another 68 Palestinians during Israeli incursions into Palestinian-controlled
territory (Area A). Israeli security forces frequently impeded the provision
of medical assistance to Palestinian civilians by their strict enforcement
of internal closures, which reportedly contributed to at least 32 deaths.
Israeli security forces harassed and abused Palestinian pedestrians
and drivers who were attempting to pass through the more than 130 Israeli-controlled
checkpoints in the occupied territories. During the year, human rights
organizations, including B'tselem, Human Rights Watch, the Palestinian
Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW),
and the Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners reported that there
was an increase in the number of allegations that Israeli security forces
tortured detainees, including using methods prohibited in a 1999 High
Court decision; there also were numerous allegations that police officers
beat detainees. The Government states that the security forces have
complied with the High Court's decision and that the Attorney General's
office investigates any allegations of mistreatment. Two Palestinian
prisoners died in Israeli custody under ambiguous circumstances during
the year. Prison conditions were poor. Prolonged detention, limits on
due process, and infringements on privacy rights remained problems.
The IDF destroyed numerous orchards, olive and date groves, and irrigation
systems on Palestinian-controlled agricultural land, and demolished
the homes of Palestinians suspected of terrorism, without judicial review.
Israeli authorities censored Palestinian publications in East Jerusalem.
Some journalists who were covering the clashes were injured and killed
by IDF fire. The Israeli authorities placed limits on freedom of assembly,
and severely restricted freedom of movement for Palestinians. Israeli
security forces failed to prevent, and in some cases protected, some
Israelis who entered Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank and
injured and killed several Palestinians.
The PA's overall human rights record continued to be poor; its performance
improved in a few areas, but worsened in several others during the year.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no documented instances of on-duty
Palestinian security forces killing Israeli security force members in
the occupied territories during the year. Some off-duty members of Palestinian
security services and Fatah faction reportedly participated with civilians
and militant groups in violent attacks against Israeli settlers, other
civilians, and soldiers. At year's end, there was no conclusive evidence
that the most senior PLO or PA leadership gave prior approval for these
acts. On a number of occasions, Arafat called on Palestinians not to
fire from Area A and ordered a complete cease-fire. However, Arafat
did not take sufficient sustained action to end the violence. PA security
forces arrested some of those implicated in the violence, but many quickly
were released or not kept under credible conditions of arrest.
At least five Palestinians in the custody of PA security services died
under ambiguous circumstances. PA prison conditions were very poor.
PA security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained persons, and prolonged
detention was a problem. There were credible reports of abuse and torture
of prisoners held by the PA during the year. Lack of due process also
was a problem. PA courts are perceived as inefficient, lacking in staff
and resources, and failing to ensure fair and expeditious trials. The
imposition by Israel of internal closure in the occupied territories
during the year prevented courts from holding sessions or issuing rulings
during most of the year. The PA executive and security services frequently
ignored or failed to enforce court decisions. Lack of due process also
is a serious problem in the PA's state security courts. PA security
forces infringed on citizens' rights to privacy and restricted freedom
of speech and of the press. The PA continued to harass, detain, and
abuse journalists. PA harassment contributed to the practice of self-censorship
by many Palestinian commentators, reporters, and critics. The PA placed
some limits on freedom of assembly and association. Violence against
women and "honor crimes" persisted. Societal discrimination
against women and persons with disabilities was a problem. Child labor
was a problem.
Israeli civilians, especially settlers, harassed, attacked, and occasionally
killed Palestinians in the occupied territories. There were credible
reports that settlers killed at least 14 Palestinians during the year.
Three Jewish extremist groups, believed to be associated with settlers,
claimed responsibility for the killing of five other Palestinians, including
an infant, in three separate attacks. Although Israeli officials criticized
the acts and promised to take action and detained one suspect, they
made no other arrests in any of these cases by year's end. Settlers
also caused significant economic damage to Palestinians by attacking
and damaging greenhouses and agricultural equipment, uprooting olive
trees, and damaging other valuable crops. The settlers did not act under
government directive in the attacks; however, they were at times accompanied
by Israeli soldiers whose standing orders are to protect, not arrest
or restrain, Israeli civilians in the occupied territories. The Israeli
Government generally did not prosecute the settlers for their acts of
violence. In general settlers rarely serve prison sentences if convicted
of a crime against a Palestinian.
Palestinian civilians were responsible for the deaths of the 87 Israelis
killed in the occupied territories. Palestinian-instigated violence
in the initial months of the Intifada was characterized by violent demonstrations;
shootings; incidents in which Palestinians usually threw stones and
Molotov cocktails at IDF checkpoints; random shootings at Israeli settlements
and IDF positions; and limited armed attacks on Israeli settlers, soldiers,
and civilians. During the year, violence directed at Israeli civilians
and settlers became more lethal as Palestinians targeted Israelis in
drive-by shootings and ambushes, suicide and other bombings, mortar
attacks, and armed attacks on settlements and military bases. Palestinians
acting individually, or in unorganized or small groups, including some
members of Palestinian security services, killed at least 36 Israelis,
including 17 settlers, as well as 10 members of the Israeli security
forces in the occupied territories during the year. Off-duty members
of PA security forces and members of Chairman Arafat's Fatah faction
participated in some of these attacks.
A number of extremist Palestinian groups, including the militant Islamic
Resistance Movement (HAMAS), the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the
PFLP, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and
Fatah-affiliated groups such as the al-Aqsa Brigades, the Thabet Thabet
Group, and the Brigades of Return, killed 51 Israelis and 4 foreigners
and injured numerous others in the occupied territories during the year.
The PA had made few arrests in these killings by year's end.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
The number of deaths due to political violence associated with the
Intifada remained extremely high in the occupied territories during
the year. Israeli security forces killed at least 501 persons in the
West Bank and Gaza. Israeli civilians, mostly settlers, as well as extremist
groups believed to be associated with settlers, killed at least 19 Palestinians.
Palestinian militants and civilians killed an estimated 87 Israelis.
Palestinian civilians killed at least 22 Palestinians suspected of being
collaboration with the Israeli Government. Additionally, more than 7,300
persons were injured during the year, including more than 6,600 Palestinians
and nearly 700 Israelis (see Sections 1.c. and 1.g.).
Israeli security forces killed at least 501 Palestinians--of whom at
least 103 were members of PA security forces--and 1 foreign national
during the year. Most of the Palestinians killed by Israeli security
forces were killed during violent demonstrations, armed clashes, targeted
killings, incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas, at checkpoints,
or as a result of sometimes excessive or indiscriminate fire toward
Palestinian civilian areas. During the incidents, Palestinian protestors
frequently threw stones and Molotov cocktails, and in some cases, also
fired weapons at IDF soldiers (see Sections 1.c. and 1.d.). In response
Israeli security forces used a variety of means to disperse demonstrators,
including tear gas, rubber-coated metal bullets, and live ammunition.
In many instances, Israeli security forces used excessive force against
demonstrators, at times resulting in deaths, in contravention of their
official rules of engagement (see Section 1.g.).
For example, on July 7, Khalil al-Mughrabi, an 11-year-old child, was
killed in Gaza. According to B'tselem, al-Mughrabi was killed when an
Israeli tank used live ammunition to fire warning shots during a demonstration
in which the IDF states that demonstrators threw fragmentation grenades
and stones at IDF soldiers. B'tselem stated that al-Mughrabi and two
other boys who were hit were a distance from the demonstration and had
On November 22, five schoolboys in Gaza on their way to class were
killed by the explosion of an ordnance that they found and apparently
touched. The IDF had planted the mine in an effort to kill Palestinian
gunmen who had been shooting at Israelis at night from the area. The
IDF conducted an internal investigation, and senior staff reprimanded
the officers who had laid the mine, stating that they should not have
placed the mine there because they should have known that school children
used the area. There was no other reported disciplinary action against
The IDF targeted for killing at least 33 Palestinians during the year.
The Israeli Government explicitly or implicitly acknowledged its role
in the targeting and killing of at least 22 Palestinians, and also acknowledged
its role in killing another 5 persons who were not targets while attempting
to kill 3 militants. In January a senior public official in the Israeli
Government, speaking off-the-record to Israeli journalists, stated that
the IDF deliberately had targeted 10 Palestinians since the beginning
of the Intifada. According to the IDF, the targeted persons were militants
whom the IDF believed recently had attacked or had been planning future
attacks against Israeli civilians, settlements, or military targets.
The IDF stated that it targeted persons only with the authorization
of senior political leaders. The Government of Israel stated that such
actions were exceptional self-defense measures taken only against those
engaged in hostilities against Israeli citizens, and were justified
by its obligation to protect its citizens against terrorism and consistent
with its right to self defense. In the death of at least seven other
Palestinian militants, Israeli officials either declined to take responsibility
for the action or actively denied Israel's involvement. During the course
of the year, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon stated publicly that there
would be targeted killings that the Israeli Government would deny publicly.
In several cases in which Israeli officials denied that the killings
were targeted, officials acknowledged that the persons killed had been
wanted by the Israeli Government for past or planned attacks on Israelis,
and the circumstances of the attacks led to suspicion that Israeli authorities
were responsible for the killings. PA officials, Palestinian political
leaders, and Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations stated
that four of the Palestinians targeted and killed during the year were
political activists who were not involved in violent attacks. IDF forces
killed 18 Palestinian bystanders, relatives, or associates of those
targeted, and injured a number of others during the operations (see
Section 1.c.); however, the Government of Israel has stated that it
makes every effort to avoid collateral injuries or deaths and has aborted
operations against known terrorists when it became clear that they might
endanger innocent civilians. In most cases, the only death or serious
injury was the person targeted, although in some cases there were unintended
For example, on July 17, IDF helicopters fired several rockets into
the one-room house of an alleged Hamas member in Bethlehem, killing
four Palestinians and injuring eight others, including several women.
Israeli officials said that the operation targeted a Hamas terror cell
that was planning an imminent bombing in Jerusalem. Neighbors of the
family and Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups stated that the
four men were not active in Hamas. One of those killed, Ishaq Sa'adeh,
was a well-known peace activist and history teacher at a Christian school
On July 31, Israeli helicopters fired several rockets into the second
floor of a six-story building in Nablus, killing two Hamas senior officials-Jamal
Mansour and Jamal Salim-and six other Palestinians, including two children
who were standing outside the building. Israeli officials maintained
that the operation targeted Hamas military operatives. The Hamas office
was a media center, and two of those killed were journalists (see Section
On December 10, Israeli helicopters fired several rockets into the
market in al-Sahel in Hebron, apparently targeting the car of PIJ member
Mohamad al-Sider. Al-Sider was injured slightly. At least one of the
rockets missed its target and hit the car behind it, killing two Palestinian
children, Burhan Yaoun (3 years old) and Ahmad Arafat (13 years old).
At least seven other civilian bystanders were injured. The IDF released
a statement that acknowledged that the operation was intended to kill
al-Sider, and expressed regret at the death of the children.
Israeli security force personnel killed a number of Palestinians in
ambiguous circumstances that appeared to involve the excessive use of
force in responding to what they stated were violent, or potentially
violent situations at checkpoints (see Section 1.g.). The IDF generally
did not investigate the actions of security force members who killed
and injured Palestinians under such circumstances, leading to a climate
of impunity. The IDF stated that it did not investigate such incidents
because of technical problems; because Israel does not have full control
over the occupied territories; and because the PA reportedly would not
cooperate in investigations in Areas B and C. However, in certain high-profile
cases, the IDF agreed to investigate. For example, on October 18, as
IDF tanks and armored personnel carriers entered Area A in Jenin, an
11-year-old girl, Rihmah Abu Wardeh, was killed by IDF tank fire near
the Ibrhimyeen school compound. Seven other school children were injured.
Some eyewitness accounts indicate that Riham was injured critically
while in the classroom, but others indicate that she was in the school
compound when shrapnel from tank fire struck her. Riham died before
her arrival at the Jenin hospital. The IDF conducted an internal investigation
concerning the Jenin incursion. The officer in charge of the area was
found to have exceeded his authority during the entry into, and firing
upon the area. The IDF sentenced him to 28 days in military prison,
and removed him from further command positions. However, the charges
against him did not mention specifically the death of the girl or the
injuries at the school.
Frequently, and often following shooting attacks, many of which were
nonlethal, in the direction of Israeli settlements and military positions,
the IDF retaliated against Palestinian towns and cities in the West
Bank and Gaza. Israeli forces fired tank shells, heavy machine-gun rounds,
and rockets from helicopters and F-16s at targets in residential and
business neighborhoods located near the sites from which the Palestinian
gunfire was believed to have originated. Such Israeli actions during
the year killed at least 93 Palestinians, most of whom were noncombatants,
injured at least 1,500 persons, and caused significant damage to buildings,
schools, and hospitals or other medical facilities. Two doctors, a nurse,
and an ambulance driver were among those killed (see Section 1.g.).
In addition at least 68 Palestinians were killed in more than 50 temporary
Israeli incursions into Palestinian-controlled (Area A) cities and towns.
Such incursions usually were conducted as retaliation for Palestinian
suicide bombings or shooting attacks that had killed Israeli civilians,
settlers, or soldiers, or to make arrests. The occupation of these areas
varied in length from a few hours to more than 6 weeks. As part of such
actions, the IDF usually leveled either a major PA building, or, especially
in Gaza, a series of buildings, including homes. The Israeli Government
stated that such actions were intended to widen a security strip area
adjacent to Israeli-controlled territory. At least three of the PA buildings
that the IDF destroyed during such incursions were facilities housing
Special Forces Units of the Palestinian national police.
According to Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations, Israeli
security forces at checkpoints impeded the provision of medical assistance
to sick and injured Palestinians, reportedly contributing to the deaths
of at least 32 Palestinians. The Israeli Government states that soldiers
have been ordered to refrain from harming ambulances and other medical
vehicles (see Section 1.g.).
At least two Palestinian prisoners died in Israeli custody during the
year (see Section 1.c.).
Palestinian security forces killed at least 11 Palestinians in Gaza
in October and December during violent demonstrations initiated by members
of Hamas and during PA operations aimed at arresting Hamas members.
In contrast to 2000, during the year, there were no documented instances
of Palestinian security forces killing Israeli security force members
during violent clashes with Israeli soldiers. During an Israeli incursion
into the Palestinian-controlled city of Ramallah (Area A) in September,
local residents, reportedly including members of Fatah and members of
the PA security services, killed an Israeli soldier when they fired
at Israeli security forces that had entered their neighborhood.
For example, on December 21, violent clashes broke out between PA security
forces and residents of Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza. Security forces
fired live ammunition into the crowds, injuring approximately 50 persons
and killing 5 Palestinian civilians. The clashes began following the
funeral for 17-year-old Mahmoud Abdel Rahman El-Muqayed, who had been
killed the previous night during an attempted arrest by the PA on an
operation cell of Hamas members. A few hundred demonstrators, some armed
members of Hamas and PIJ, attacked a nearby police station in Jabalia
during the clashes, which lasted for several hours. The PA security
forces brought in between 400 and 500 reinforcement officers and deployed
several armed personnel carriers. At its peak, the crowd of Palestinians,
including armed, masked militants, reached almost 10,000.
Members of Palestinian security services and Arafat's Fatah faction
are widely believed to have participated in violent attacks against
Israeli settlers, civilians, and soldiers; at year's end, the extent
to which senior PA or PLO officials authorized such incidents was not
clear. In addition, despite several orders issued by Chairman Arafat
to Palestinians not to fire on Israelis from Area A, armed Palestinians,
some of them members of Palestinian security forces and Fatah, fired
at Israelis from within or close to the homes of Palestinian civilians
or in other locations in which civilians were present, increasing the
potential for the noncombatants to be wounded as a result of the Israeli
response. Since June 1, Arafat also issued several total cease-fire
orders, none of which were effective.
There were no reports that Palestinian security forces impeded the
provision of medical assistance to injured Israelis in the occupied
territories during the year, in contrast to two such allegations in
2000; however, the Israeli Government stated that there were instances
in which Israeli ambulances were attacked by Palestinian civilians.
Although there were near daily attacks by Palestinian gunmen on Israeli
civilians on the West Bank and Gaza during the year, there were several
instances in which PA security officials took into protective custody,
and returned safely to Israeli authorities, Israeli civilians who had
violated Israeli regulations by entering Palestinian-controlled areas
of the West Bank. For example, on September 16, senior PA adviser and
Minister of Local Government Saeb Erekat personally escorted an Israeli
settler from Vered Yericho settlement to the District Coordination Office
(Israeli-Palestinian security liaison office). The settler had lost
his way and entered Area A in Jericho that evening.
At least five Palestinians died in PA custody during the year. On February
27, 37-year-old Salim al-Aqra' died in Nablus while in the custody of
the PA's military intelligence service. Al-Aqra' was detained on suspicion
of collaboration with Israel approximately 1 month before his death.
According to press reports and statements by his family members, al-Aqra's
body bore signs of beatings and bruises. The PA released no autopsy
on his death. The PA did not indicate if an investigation would take
place or if officers involved in the case had been identified or held
responsible for the alleged abuses.
On August 15, Sulieman Abu Amra, a 38-year-old Palestinian from Deir
al-Balah, died while in the custody of the PA's General Intelligence
Services in Gaza. Arafat ordered a board of inquiry to look into his
death, but no findings had been released by year's end. Palestinian
human rights activists stated that signs of torture were evident on
On September 9, the PSF killed Gazan Khaled Okeh, age 35. The PSF reported
that he was killed when he attempted to escape while being moved from
one prison to another in anticipation of an IDF retaliatory attack on
PA facilities, including the first prison.
On October 8, PA authorities found 32-year-old Bizra Hisham dead in
his cell in Junaid Prison in Nablus. West Bank PSF had arrested Hishan
on charges that he had collaborated with Israel. PA security officials
asserted that he had committed suicide.
On October 21, 41-year-old Eladdin Wahbah died while in custody of
the General Intelligence Service in Khan Younis, in Gaza. Wahba, who
worked at an UNRWA school, had been detained 3 days earlier on suspicion
of collaborating with Israel. The PA informed Wahbah's family that he
had committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell with a blanket.
The family insisted on an autopsy, which was performed in the presence
of a team of physicians, including two whom did not work for the PA.
The team reportedly concurred with the initial PA assessment of suicide.
At least 128 Israelis and Palestinians and 5 foreigners in the occupied
territories died in politically related violence perpetrated by civilians
and extremist groups during the year.
Israeli settlers, acting individually or in small, at times unstructured,
groups harassed, attacked, and occasionally killed Palestinians in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip (see Section 1.c.). There were credible reports
that settlers killed at least 14 and injured several more Palestinians
during the year, usually by shooting them, stoning their vehicles (causing
fatal accidents), or hitting them with moving vehicles. The settlers
at times were accompanied by IDF troops. IDF soldiers have standing
orders to protect, not restrain or arrest, Israeli settlers in the occupied
territories. The Israeli Government did not generally prosecute the
settlers for their acts of violence (see Section 1.g.). In general settlers
rarely serve prison sentences if convicted of a crime against Palestinians.
For example, on January 21, the Jerusalem District Court sentenced Nahum
Korman, former security coordinator for the Gush Etzion settlement,
to 6 months of community service and 15 months of probation for the
1996 murder of 12-year-old Palestinian Hilmi Shusha. The court also
ordered Korman to pay $16,000 (NIS 70,000) to Shusha's family. The Israeli
human rights organization B'tselem stated that the court's decision
in effect signaled to the settlers that they could attack violently,
and even kill, Palestinians without suffering severe penalties. In a
similar case, in February the Israeli High Court released settler Yoram
Skolnick from prison. Skolnick was convicted of the 1993 shooting and
killing of a bound, blindfolded Palestinian who allegedly had attacked
a settler with a knife. Although a judge originally sentenced Skolnick
to life in prison, he served less than 8 years for the crime.
At least three Jewish extremist groups, believed to be associated with
settlers, claimed responsibility for the deaths of five Palestinians,
including an infant, in drive-by shooting attacks.
Palestinian civilians harassed, attacked, and killed Israelis, especially
settlers. During the year, Palestinians, acting as individuals or in
unorganized or small groups, reportedly including some members of PA
security services, killed 26 Israeli settlers and civilians and 10 Israeli
soldiers, and injured hundreds of others in the occupied territories
(see Section 1.c.). The Palestinian attacks consisted primarily of shooting
attacks and stone-throwing at Israeli drivers.
For example, on April 21, Palestinians beat to death Stanislav Sandomirski
near Ramallah. Sandomirski's body was found in the back of his car by
A number of extremist Palestinian groups, including the militant HAMAS,
PIJ, the PFLP, DLFP, and Fatah-affiliated groups such as the al-Aqsa
Brigades, Thabet Thabet Group, and the Brigades of Return, continued
to kill and injure Israelis. The PA made few arrests in these killings
by year's end, and many of those arrested were released a short time
later or held under conditions not commensurate with normal conditions
of arrest. Such extremist groups claimed responsibility for the killings
of 40 Israeli settlers and civilians, 11 Israeli soldiers, and 4 foreigners
in the occupied territories in various attacks and bombings. In one
case, two teenage boys from Teqoa settlement were found dead on the
morning of May 9 outside Bethlehem. The boys had missed school the previous
day to go hiking but did not return home. Evidence indicated that the
boys had been beaten brutally and stoned to death. A group calling itself
"Hizballah-Palestine," a name frequently used by individual
PIJ and Hamas cells, reported to a French news service that its members
killed the boys.
On October 17, two Palestinian men killed Israeli Minister of Tourism
Rehavem Ze'evi outside his hotel room in East Jerusalem. The PFLP claimed
Early in the year, some PA officials made public statements justifying
Palestinian attacks on Israelis, stating that such attacks were in response
to the occupation. Additionally, some mid-level Fatah leaders made public
statements urging Palestinians to continue all aspects of the Intifada,
including violent opposition. Several times during the latter part of
the year, Arafat publicly ordered a complete cease-fire and stated that
he had instructed security forces to enforce it. The PA's limited attempts
at enforcement were only partially successful. By year's end, the PA
security forces were making increased attempts at arrest.
Palestinian civilians also killed at least 22 Palestinians in the occupied
territories who allegedly had collaborated with Israel. Most of the
deaths were shootings perpetrated by small groups of unidentified Palestinians
gunmen. The PA made no arrests in any of these killings. An example
of such a case is the July 31 death of Jamal Shahin.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances during
During the year, groups of armed Palestinians beat two journalists
and kidnaped two others for a 24-hour period (see Section 2.a.). One
man disappeared in the West Bank on August 1, in unclear circumstances.
It was not apparent whether his disappearance was politically or criminally
No persons whose abduction previously was reported remained missing
at year's end.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Israeli laws and administrative regulations prohibit the physical abuse
of detainees and a landmark decision by the High Court of Justice in
September 1999 prohibited the use of a variety of abusive practices,
including violent shaking, painful shackling in contorted positions,
sleep deprivation for extended periods of time, and prolonged exposure
to extreme temperatures; however, during the year, human rights organizations,
including B'tselem, Human Rights Watch, LAW, and the Mandela Institute
for Political Prisoners reported that there was an increase in the number
of allegations that Israeli security forces tortured and abused detainees,
including using methods prohibited in the 1999 High Court decision.
There also were numerous allegations that police officers beat detainees.
The Government stated that the security forces have complied with the
High Court's decision and that the Attorney General's office investigates
any allegations of mistreatment. Human rights groups indicate that the
person who is responsible for carrying out the initial investigation
into such allegations is a GSS officer, and that, as a result, the GSS
provides preliminary research in injuries into its own alleged abuses.
Human rights groups charge that largely because of they system, few
cases have been opened and no GSS agent has been criminally charged
with torture or other ill-treatment for the past several years.
Prior to the High Court's 1999 decision, laws prohibiting the physical
abuse of detainees were not enforced. Regulations authorized security
officers to use "moderate physical and psychological pressure"
(which included violent shaking) while interrogating detainees. These
practices often led to excesses. In 1999 the Attorney General issued
guidelines that denied blanket immunity from prosecution for interrogators.
Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups noted that it was difficult
to visit prisoners during the interrogation period and that some detainees
were reluctant to report abuse out of fear of retribution.
Several human rights groups stated that the case of Abdel Rahman al-Ahmar
is representative of the allegations of physical abuse they are receiving.
On May 24, Israeli authorities arrested al-Ahmar, a well-known Palestinian
human rights activist and field researcher, for entering Jerusalem without
a permit. The authorities first detained al-Ahmar at Etzion Prison,
then transferred him 6 days later to the Russian Compound in Jerusalem.
According to testimony he gave his lawyer, authorities beat al-Ahmar
when they arrested him, subsequently subjected him to shabeh (shackling
in painful positions for prolonged periods), and held him in a dirty,
cold cell. According to a press release from the Public Committee Against
Torture in Israel, authorities denied al-Ahmar adequate medical care.
On June 18, an Israeli military judge denied al-Ahmar's legal complaint
of torture--despite bruises on his arms and visible difficulty walking--and
extended his detention without charging him. In early July, al-Ahmar
was remanded for 6 months of administrative detention, and in November
the order was renewed for an additional 6 months. International, Israeli,
and Palestinian human rights groups continued to petition for his release.
Most convictions in security cases before Israeli courts are based
on confessions. The law prohibits the admission of forced confessions
as evidence; however, there have been allegations that this occurs.
A detainee may not have contact with a lawyer until after interrogation,
a process that may last days or weeks. The Government does not allow
representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
access to detainees until the 14th day of detention. Detainees sometimes
state in court that their confessions are coerced, but judges rarely
exclude such confessions. According to Palestinian human rights groups,
some Palestinian detainees fail to make complaints either due to fear
of retribution or because they assume that such complaints would be
ignored. During the year, there were no known cases in which an Israeli
court excluded a Palestinian confession because of a finding of improper
means of investigation or interrogation.
Israeli security forces injured more than 6,300 Palestinians during
armed clashes, violent demonstrations, retaliatory strikes, and other
military actions during the year. The marked decline in the number injured
compared with 2000 reflects primarily the changing nature of the conflict.
The massive daily demonstrations across the West Bank and Gaza have
given way to a much higher incidence of armed attacks by individuals
or unorganized or small groups of Palestinians, heavy IDF retaliation
against civilian areas, and intense gun battles resulting from Israeli
military incursions into Palestinian-controlled towns and villages.
However, smaller, less-frequent demonstrations, many of which turned
violent, continued (see Sections 1.a., 1.g., and 2.b.).
The IDF injured a number of bystanders, including journalists, at demonstrations,
clashes, or during retaliatory strikes. Israeli gunfire killed 2 journalists
and injured at least 10 others during Israeli military actions during
the year (see Sections 1.a. and 2.a.).
There also were many reports that Israeli authorities treat Palestinians
in an abusive manner at checkpoints, subjecting them to verbal and physical
harassment. Each day, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who wish
to travel between Palestinian towns and villages must pass through one
or more of the approximately 130 Israeli checkpoints across the occupied
territories. Credible anecdotal stories of checkpoint abuses recounted
by international humanitarian aid groups, and by hundreds of Palestinian
citizens throughout the year, suggest that abuse is common and that
as many as several thousand Palestinians have encountered some form
of abuse from soldiers at checkpoints. In extreme cases, there were
numerous reports of soldiers forcing Palestinians to hit or spit on
other Palestinians in line, to strip off their own clothing, or to eat
or drink during the Ramadan fast before being allowed to pass through
In a case reported by local and international press, and videotaped
by an Israeli settler, in February in central Hebron, 50-year-old Palestinian
pedestrian Jadilallah al-Jabri was stopped at an IDF checkpoint near
an entrance to the H-2, Israeli-controlled section. Although al-Jabri
provided all the correct documentation, and reportedly was not acting
in a threatening manner, a soldier shot him in his ankle, severely injuring
him. The soldiers neglected to provide any medical care to the man for
several minutes, despite profuse bleeding. Finally, Palestinian bystanders
called for an ambulance.
Human Rights Watch estimated that in the first 2 months of the year,
hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were subjected to
serious beatings, tire slashings, and gunfire directed against them
or their vehicles because they were traveling on, or trying to circumvent,
roads on which the IDF blocked passage to Palestinians as it attempted
to enforce internal closures between Palestinian cities and towns in
the West Bank and Gaza (see Section 2.d.).
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) stated that IDF soldiers
and settlers committed 67 attacks against PRCS ambulances during the
year. The PRCS also reported that IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers
injured 121 PRCS emergency personnel in attacks.
Two doctors, a nurse, and an ambulance driver were killed by Israeli
fire during retaliatory attacks on civilian areas or PA institutions
(see Sections 1.a and 1.g.). In one widely reported case, IDF soldiers
abused a number of PRCS emergency workers at checkpoints. The soldiers
at a roadblock south of Nablus forced three medics out of the ambulance,
confiscated their radios, and ordered them to lie on the road. The soldiers
repeatedly beat the workers with rifle butts, verbally abused them,
kicked them, and broke one medic's hand. The PRCS team was allowed to
leave only after the intervention of the ICRC.
The PA does not prohibit by law the use of torture or force against
detainees, and PA security forces reportedly regularly employ torture
and abuse against Palestinian detainees. Such abuse generally takes
place after arrest and during interrogation, and reportedly is widespread.
In 1995 the Gaza civil police commander issued to police officers in
the West Bank and Gaza a directive forbidding torture during interrogation,
and directing the security forces to observe the rights of all detainees;
however, the directive does not have the force of law, and Palestinian
security officers have not been issued formal guidelines regarding the
proper conduct of interrogations. The PA lacks adequate equipment to
collect and use evidence, and convictions are based largely on confessions.
PA security officials torture and abuse prisoners by threatening, hooding,
beating, and tying detainees in painful positions, forcing them to stand
for long periods of time, depriving them of sleep and food, and burning
detainees with cigarettes and hot instruments. Palestinians also alleged
that PA authorities have shaken them violently while in PA custody.
International human rights groups have documented widespread arbitrary
and abusive conduct by the PA. The organizations state that the use
of torture is widespread and not restricted to those persons detained
on security charges. Human rights groups state that Palestinians who
are suspected of belonging to radical Islamic groups are more likely
to be treated poorly, as are the large numbers of alleged collaborators
with Israel who have been arrested since the start of the Intifada.
Observers have noted that documentation of abuses is very limited, due
partly to the hesitancy of alleged victims to file or make public claims
of torture and abuse against the PA authorities.
During the year, five Palestinians died under ambiguous circumstances
while in PA custody. The PA released no autopsy of the deaths (see Section
Off-duty Palestinian security officers and Fatah Tanzim members with
firearms were deeply involved in the violence during the year. In some
cases, they fired at Israeli civilians or soldiers from within or close
to the homes of Palestinian civilians, drawing Israeli return fire.
For example, on several occasions, Palestinians security forces on night
patrol in the al-Bireh neighborhood near Ramallah failed to find and
prevent Palestinian gunmen from firing on the nearby Israeli settlement
of Psagot. Most of the shootings caused no injuries and did little damage,
but they did prompt the IDF to respond with gunfire and, occasionally,
tank shells, which resulted in at least two deaths and numerous injuries
Palestinian security forces also at times failed to prevent armed Palestinians
in areas under PA control from opening fire on Israeli settlers or other
civilians, soldiers, or military targets.
Extremist Israeli settlers harassed, attacked, and occasionally killed
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (see Section 1.a.). There
were credible reports that settlers injured a number of Palestinians
during the year, usually by stoning their vehicles (which at times caused
fatal accidents), shooting them, or striking them with moving vehicles.
Human rights groups received a number of reports during the year that
Israeli settlers in the West Bank beat Palestinians.
Some settlers also attacked Palestinian homes and damaged crops, olive
trees, greenhouses, and agricultural equipment, usually in areas located
near settlements, causing extensive economic damage to Palestinian-owned
agricultural land. For example, PRCS and LAW reported that, on June
1, settlers burned the wheat fields and allegedly poisoned the sheep
of Palestinians in Sawyeh village, near Nablus. The settlers acted in
an area in which the IDF is responsible for security. The IDF took no
action to apprehend the perpetrators, and no compensation was provided
to the Palestinian victims. Settlers usually act independently of government
direction in such attacks; however, the Israeli Government generally
does not prosecute settlers for their acts of violence against Palestinians,
and settlers rarely serve prison sentences if convicted of a crime against
In October B'tselem published a report criticizing Israeli law enforcement
officials for their failure to control settlers during attacks against
Palestinians. The report also charged that the Israeli security forces
contribute to the continued violence by failing to discipline such abuses
by settlers. Earlier in the year, B'tselem criticized the IDF not only
for its failure to control settlers during attacks on Palestinians,
but also for applying curfews and closures only to Palestinians, including
in cases that prevented Palestinians from defending themselves and their
property against attacks by the settlers.
For example, on May 14, settlers broke into Muhammad Ra'id Khalil Dar
Khalil's cement block factory. The settlers used his forklift and tractor
to severely damage the facility, burned a truck, a crane, feed for his
animals, and 200 platforms of concrete blocks. The settlers also damaged
his car and factory equipment, and stoned his house, breaking windows
and doors. Khalil reported that soldiers who were present did nothing
to stop the settlers, and also refused to allow him to leave his home
during the incident.
According to human rights organizations, Israeli settlers at times
attacked Palestinian ambulances and impeded the provision of medical
services to injured Palestinians (see Section 2.d. and 1.g.). During
the year, Israeli settlers in Hebron also increased their longstanding
harassment of members of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron
(TIPH), which monitors relations between Israeli and Palestinian security
forces, Palestinian civilians, and settlers in the city, and damaged
a number of their vehicles; TIPH suspended its regular patrols in the
Israeli-controlled section of Hebron for a week in August due to such
Palestinians harassed, attacked, and occasionally killed Israelis,
especially settlers (see Section 1.a.). For example, during the year,
unidentified Palestinian gunmen regularly fired on homes in Gilo, a
Jewish neighborhood in the Jerusalem area, from residential areas of
the neighboring Palestinian town of Beit Jala. Since the beginning of
the Intifada, at least 550 Israeli settlers and civilians in the occupied
territories have been injured by Palestinian civilians or Palestinian
security forces. Several Palestinian extremist groups claimed responsibility
for injuring a number of Israeli settlers, civilians, and soldiers in
armed attacks or bombings in the occupied territories.
There was a report during the year that Hamas militants shot at an Israeli
On August 23, an official from the Israeli Government accused the PRCS
of allowing gunmen to be transported in its ambulances in the Nablus
area. However, when later asked by the ICRC and the PRCS to provide
evidence of the practice, the Israeli Government retracted the allegations.
The ICRC and PRCS noted that this was the third time that Israeli officials
had falsely accused the PRCS of transporting gunmen or weapons during
this Intifada; each time the Israeli Government and the IDF have failed
to provide any evidence to support their charges.
Conditions for Palestinians in Israeli prisons are poor. Facilities
are overcrowded, sanitation is poor, and medical care is inadequate.
For most of the year, Israeli prison authorities held at least 80 minors
who had been arrested on security charges, primarily stone-throwing,
in cells with convicted adult Israeli criminals at Tel Mond prison in
Israel. Previously, including during the first Intifada, Palestinian
minors had always been incarcerated separately from other prisoners.
The youths' lawyers and relatives reported frequent instances of mistreatment
by adult Israeli prisoners incarcerated for criminal offenses, and occasionally
by prison officials, against these minors, including beatings, rapes,
attacks with razors, theft of food and money, and general harassment.
Upon receiving complaints by several human rights and humanitarian groups,
prison officials moved 50 youths to other prisons or released them upon
completion of their sentence; however, the Israeli authorities subsequently
incarcerated additional minors at Tel Mond. At year's end, 60-70 minors
remained in the cells in Tel Mond.
Palestinian prisoners went on several, short-lived hunger strikes in
Israeli prisons to protest living conditions. In Ramleh prison, female
prisoners went on a hunger strike for 1 day in May. In the Megiddo military
detention facility and at Ashkelon and Beersheva there were several
1-day hunger strikes in during the year. The minors held in Tel Mond
also held hunger strikes during the year, which lasted from 1 to 3 days.
In September 2000, Israeli authorities suspended family visits for
Palestinian prisoners; however, they allowed limited visits to resume
in February. Visits for families of prisoners from Gaza had resumed
at a fairly normal level; however, visits for families of prisoners
from the West Bank were reduced significantly because of time and logistical
barriers due to internal closure in the West Bank. The IDF suspended
the visitation program for families from the West Bank at the end of
July, citing the security situation as the reason. During the year,
two Palestinian prisoner serving time on a criminal charge died in Israeli
custody under ambiguous circumstances (see Section 1.a.).
Israel permits independent monitoring of prison conditions by the ICRC
and other groups, although human rights groups sometimes encounter difficulties
gaining access to specific detainees. Since the Intifada began, only
Israeli citizens or Palestinian lawyers with Jerusalem identification
cards have been permitted to visit Palestinian prisoners in Israeli
jails as advocates or monitors. This has significantly reduced the availability
and timeliness of legal aid for such prisoners due to a reduction from
1,300 to approximately 100 available lawyers to handle such cases. Lawyers
with Jerusalem identification cards report frequent, repeated, and lengthy
delays in meeting with prisoners. Israeli lawyers have not take steps
to fill the void.
Conditions in PA prisons continue to be very poor. In many cases, facilities
are overcrowded, old, dilapidated, and neglected. Food and clothing
for prisoners are inadequate and must be supplemented by donations from
families and humanitarian groups. Male and female inmates are held separately.
There are separate facilities to hold juvenile prisoners. During the
year, five Palestinians died in PA custody under ambiguous circumstances
(see Section 1.a.).
During the year, several prisoners held hunger strikes to protest their
imprisonment in PA prisons. For example, in October 12 members of the
PFLP in Ramallah conducted a hunger strike that lasted approximately
5 days. During the strike some 300 supporters held a protest march,
and PFLP members set up a protest tent in Manara Square.
The PA permits independent monitoring of its prisons, although human
rights groups, humanitarian organizations, and lawyers reported difficulties
arranging visits or gaining access to specific detainees. Human rights
organizations state that their ability to visit PA jails and detention
centers varies depending on which security organization controls the
facility. Human rights organizations state that the police, Preventive
Security Force, and Mukhabarat generally allowed them to inspect facilities
and visit prisoners and detainees. However, they stated that the Military
Intelligence Organization usually did not grant them access to facilities
that they control. Human rights monitors state that prison authorities
do not consistently permit them to have access to PA detention facilities,
and that they rarely are permitted to see inmates while they are under
The ICRC operates in the West Bank and Gaza under the terms of a memorandum
of understanding signed in September 1996 between the ICRC and the PLO.
The memorandum accords the ICRC access to all detainees held by the
PA and allows regular inspections of prison conditions. In accordance
with the agreement, the ICRC conducted visits of facilities run by the
PA. The PA may deny a group access to a detainee for 14 days immediately
following his or her arrest. If abuses occur, they frequently happen
during this 2-week period.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Israeli security personnel may arrest without warrant or hold for questioning
a person suspected of having committed a criminal or security offense.
Most of these arrests and detentions are for alleged security offenses.
Persons arrested for common crimes usually are provided with a statement
of charges and access to an attorney, and may apply for bail. However,
these procedures in some cases are delayed.
Israeli authorities intermittently issued special summonses for those
suspected of involvement in or knowledge of security offenses. There
were reports that some such summonses were issued immediately before
and during the Intifada. Israeli military order 1369 provides for a
7-year prison term for anyone who does not respond to a special summons
delivered to a family member or posted in the MATAK office nearest the
suspect's home address. There were no reports during the year that any
person was convicted of failing to respond to a summons. Bail rarely
is available to those arrested for security offenses.
Although Israeli law does not allow Israelis under the age of 16 to
be tried as adults, Israeli courts treat Palestinians more than the
age of 12 as adults. Defense for Children International (DCI) reported
that over 500 Palestinian minors (below the age of 18 years) were arrested
and detained in Israeli prisons during the year, and that at year's
end, there were approximately 160 minors in Israeli prisons. The IDF
stated that it held 102 Palestinian minors in detention as of early
December. The Israeli Prisons Service Facilities held 14 minor prisoners
and detainees as of early December. Some discrepancy in the number of
minors held is attributable to the different definitions of what age
constitutes a Palestinian minor.
Israeli authorities may hold persons in custody without a warrant for
96 hours; following that time, they must be released unless a warrant
is issued. Prearraignment detention may last up to 11 days for Palestinians
arrested in the occupied territories and up to 8 days for minors and
those accused of less serious offenses. Authorities must obtain a court
order for longer administrative detentions--up to 6 months from the
date of arrest. At hearings to extend detention for interrogation purposes,
detainees are entitled to be represented by counsel, although defense
attorneys often are not allowed to see or hear the evidence against
their clients. Detainees either are released at the end of the court-ordered
detention or sent to administrative detention if they are not indicted.
If there is an indictment, a judge may order indefinite detention until
the end of the trial. Israeli regulations permit detainees to be held
in isolation during interrogation. Detainees have the right to appeal
Although a detainee generally has the right to consult with a lawyer
as soon as possible, in security cases authorities may delay access
to counsel for up to 15 days. Higher-ranking officials or judges may
extend this period. Access to counsel is denied routinely while a suspect
is being interrogated, which may last up to several weeks. Authorities
must inform detainees of their right to an attorney and whether there
are any orders prohibiting such contact.
A number of factors hamper contacts by Palestinians in Israeli prison
and detention facilities with their lawyers, families, and human rights
organizations. Israeli authorities state that they attempt to post notification
of arrest within 48 hours; however, Palestinian suspects often are kept
incommunicado for longer than 48 hours. Even if family members or others
become aware of a person's arrest, it often is difficult for them to
obtain information regarding where a detainee is being held or whether
the detainee has access to an attorney. Palestinians generally locate
detained family members through their own efforts. Palestinians may
check with a local ICRC office to determine whether it has information
regarding the whereabouts of a family member. A senior officer may delay
for up to 12 days notification of arrest to immediate family members
and attorneys. A military commander may appeal to a judge to extend
this period in security cases for an unlimited period of time.
The Israeli Government routinely transfers Palestinians arrested in
the occupied territories to facilities in Israel, especially the prison
in Ashkelon and the military detention center in Megiddo. Such transfers
contravene international humanitarian law (see Section 1.g.). Israeli
authorities in some instances scheduled appointments between attorneys
and their detained clients, only to move the clients to another prison
prior to the meetings. Authorities reportedly use such tactics to delay
lawyer-client meetings for as long as 90 days. Palestinian lawyers also
have difficulty traveling to meet with their clients during Israeli-imposed
closures, which were in place for most of the year (see Section 2.d.).
Israel requires Palestinian attorneys to obtain permits to enter Israel
to see their clients held in prisons there. Human rights groups state
that Palestinian lawyers from the Gaza Strip have a more difficult time
obtaining these permits than their West Bank counterparts and that they
are denied entry into Israel more frequently than West Bank lawyers.
Since the beginning of the Intifada, West Bank lawyers have not been
permitted to visit Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, although
Palestinian lawyers with valid Jerusalem identification cards have been
permitted to do so. This has significantly reduced the availability
and timeliness of legal counsel for such prisoners (see Section 1.c.).
Male family members between 16 and 40 years of age, and any family
members with security records, generally are barred from visiting relatives
in facilities in Israel. Relatives of Palestinian prisoners also state
that in some instances they learn that visitation rights have been canceled
only when they arrive at the prison after travelling for many hours
from the occupied territories. Following the outbreak of violence in
late September 2000, the Israeli Government banned all family visits
for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, although some visitation
rights were restored during the year after ICRC interventions (see Section
Evidence used at hearings for administrative detentions is secret and
unavailable to the detainee or his attorney during the hearings; the
detainee and defense lawyer are required to leave the courtroom when
secret evidence is presented. Israeli authorities maintain that they
are unable to present evidence in open court because doing so would
compromise the method of acquiring the evidence. In July 1998, the High
Court of Justice ruled that only judges, rather than military officials,
may renew administrative detention orders beyond a 6-month period. Detainees
may appeal detention orders, or the renewal of a detention order, before
a military judge, but their chances for success are very limited. No
information was available regarding whether any detainees were successful
in such appeals.
The total number of Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees
in Israeli jails increased during the year due to arrests associated
with the ongoing Intifada. According to the IDF, there were 1,854 Palestinian
security prisoners held in IDF and Israeli Prisons Service jails, compared
to 1,402 at the end of 2000. The IDF also held an unspecified number
of Palestinian detainees in waiting facilities in the occupied territories.
Addameer, a leading Palestinian prisoner rights group, estimated that
there were approximately 2,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails
as of October 1. Approximately 1,350 to 1,400 had been detained before
the Intifada began (most of them pre-Oslo prisoners serving long terms),
and 800 to 850 of those currently in custody had been arrested during
the year. According to the IDF and IPS, 918 were awaiting trial. Addameer
estimated that approximately 210 Palestinian detainees were undergoing
interrogation. Addameer assessed that between 1,950 to 2,000 Palestinians
had been arrested on security-related charges during the year, but that
1,100 to 1,200 had been released or completed their sentences.
Addameer and the IDF reported that 34 Palestinians were in administrative
detention as of December. Most had been detained for less than 1 year.
A number of Palestinians under administrative detention during the previous
several years have had their detention orders renewed repeatedly and
few, if any, appeals have been successful.
PA security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained persons. The PA
does not have a uniform law on administrative detention, and security
officials do not always adhere to the existing laws in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip. Laws applicable in Gaza, which do not apply to the West
Bank, stipulate that detainees held without charge must be released
within 48 hours. The law allows the Attorney General to extend the detention
period to a maximum of 90 days during investigations. Human rights organizations
and the PA Ministry of Justice assert that PA security officials do
not always adhere to this provision. The law in the West Bank allows
a suspect to be detained for 24 hours before being charged. The Attorney
General may extend the detention period.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), in October the authorities issued
an order to place seven persons who allegedly belonged to Palestinian
Islamic Jihad and Hamas in administrative detention. They neither were
charged nor tried, and were ordered to be held for a period of 6 months
to 1 year. The PA stated that this reflected their attempt to combat
The PA Chairman has not signed the Basic Law, which was designed to
limit executive branch abuses and to provide safeguards for citizens,
since it was passed by the Palestinian Council (PC) in 1996. The lack
of safeguards has contributed to the tendency of PA security forces
to refuse to carry out High Court of Justice orders to release detainees.
In some cases in past years, the High Court ordered the release of prisoners
detained for years without trial, and PA security forces released the
prisoners several months up to 1 year later. In November 1997, the Palestinian
High Court ordered the release of HAMAS member Mahmud Muslah; it is
not clear if Muslah remained in detention at year's end. In February
1999, the High Court ordered the release of Wa'el Farraj, who has been
detained without charges since 1996; it is not clear if Farraj remained
in detention at year's end. According to the Palestinian Independent
Commission for Citizens Rights, the High Court ordered 17 detainees
released during the year, compared with 9 detainees in 2000. The PA
released 2 of the 17 in response to the High Court order.
Addameer estimated that approximately 340 suspected collaborators and
180 to 200 political prisoners were in custody in PA jails at year's
end (see Section 1.e.). According to HRW, these alleged collaborators
often were held without sufficient evidence, and denied access to lawyers,
their families, or doctors.
Palestinian security forces at times detained or placed under house
arrest the relatives of alleged security criminals. For example, the
PA arrested and reportedly still held at the end of the year, two brothers
of the suspects who allegedly killed Israeli Tourism Minister Ze'evi
on October 17. Lawyers and PA judicial officials acknowledged that,
in contravention of the law, PA security services sometimes arrest and
detain persons without informing judicial officials.
PA authorities generally permit prisoners--except those held for security
offenses--to receive visits from family members, and human rights monitors.
PA security officials do not always permit lawyers to see their clients.
In principle detainees may notify their families of their arrest, but
this is not always permitted. Human rights organizations reported in
the past that lawyers at times were denied access to their clients.
PA security services have overlapping or unclear mandates that often
complicate the protection of human rights. Under existing law in the
West Bank, only the PA's civil police force is authorized to make arrests.
In practice all security forces are known to detain persons at various
times. The operating procedures and regulations for the conduct of PA
security personnel in the various services still are not well developed
and have not yet been made fully available to the public.
There are many detention facilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
administered by the overlapping PA security services, a situation that
complicates the ability of families, lawyers, and even the Ministry
of Justice to track detainees' whereabouts and to determine their numbers.
Security services, including Preventive Security, General Intelligence,
Military Intelligence, and the Coast Guard have their own interrogation
and detention facilities. In general these services do not, or only
sporadically, inform families of a relative's arrest. Most PA security
officers remain unaware of proper arrest, detention, and interrogation
procedures, as well as basic human rights standards. In previous years,
human rights groups have provided basic human rights training to a number
of PA security services, and nearly 1,600 PA security officials have
participated in human rights courses since the PA's establishment in
PA security forces continued to harass and arbitrarily arrest and detain
journalists, political activists, and human rights advocates who criticized
the PA and its policies (see Sections 2.a. and 4).
On September 14, Palestinian police detained for approximately 2 hours
five journalists who were covering a demonstration at the Nuseirat refugee
camp (see Section 2.a.).
During the year, an Israeli commentator of Egyptian origin claimed
that members of the PA security forces held him incommunicado in the
Bethlehem area for several weeks (see Section 2.a.).
Neither the Israeli Government nor the PA used forced exile, or forcibly
deported anyone from the occupied territories, during the year.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Israeli law provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government
generally respects this provision. Palestinians accused by Israel of
security offenses in the occupied territories are tried in Israeli military
courts. Security offenses are defined broadly and may include charges
as varied as stone-throwing or membership in outlawed organizations.
Military prosecutors bring charges. Serious charges are tried before
three-judge panels; lesser offenses are tried before one judge. The
Israeli military courts rarely acquit Palestinians of security offenses,
but sentences in some cases are reduced on appeal.
The 1970 regulations governing Israeli military trials allow for evidentiary
rules that are the same in criminal cases. Convictions may not be based
solely on confessions, although in practice some security prisoners
have been sentenced on the basis of the coerced confessions of both
themselves and others. The prosecution must justify closing the proceedings
to the public in such cases, and the Attorney General determines the
venue. The accused may be assisted by counsel, and a judge may assign
counsel to those defendants when it is deemed necessary. Charges are
made available to the defendant and the public in Hebrew, and the court
may order that the charges be translated into Arabic if necessary. Sentencing
in military courts is consistent with that in criminal courts. Defendants
in military trials have the right to appeal through the Military High
Court. Defendants in military trials also may petition to the civilian
High Court of Justice (sitting as a court of first instance) in cases
in which they believe there are procedural or evidentiary irregularities.
The court may here secret evidence in security cases that is not available
to the defendant or his attorney; however, while a conviction may not
be based solely on such evidence, it reportedly may influence the judge's
Trials sometimes are delayed because witnesses, including Israeli military
or police officers, do not appear, the defendant is not brought to court,
files are lost, or attorneys fail to appear, sometimes because they
have not been informed of the trial date or travel restrictions prevent
Palestinian lawyers reaching the court (see Section 2.d.). These delays
pressure some defendants to plead guilty to minor offenses so that an
expedited trial may be held; in expedited trials a charge sheet is drawn
up within 48 hours and a court hearing is scheduled within days. There
frequently is no testimony provided by Palestinian witnesses either
for or against Palestinians on trial. Israeli authorities maintain that
this is due to the refusal of Palestinians to cooperate with the authorities.
Tension resulting from the current security situation, and the closures
imposed on the West Bank and Gaza, pose additional barriers to cooperation.
Physical and psychological pressures and reduced sentences for those
who confess may induce security detainees to sign confessions. Confessions
usually are given in Arabic but translated into Hebrew for the record
because, authorities maintain, many Israeli court personnel speak Arabic
but few read it. As a result, many Palestinian prisoners sign confessions
written in Hebrew, which they cannot read or understand.
Crowded facilities and poor arrangements for attorney-client consultations
in prisons hinder legal defense efforts. Appointments to see clients
are difficult to arrange, and prison authorities often fail to produce
clients for scheduled appointments.
Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip accused of security
and ordinary criminal offenses are tried under Israeli law in the nearest
Israeli district court. Civilian judges preside, and the standards of
due process and admissibility of evidence are governed by the laws of
Israel, not military orders. Settlers rarely are prosecuted in Israeli
courts of crimes against Palestinians, and, in the rare instances in
which they are convicted, regularly receive lighter punishment than
Palestinians convicted in Israeli courts of similar crimes against either
Israelis or other Palestinians (see Section 1.a.). The Government of
Israel stated that they established a special department within the
police force to investigate violence by settlers; however, the establishment
of such a unit has not noticeably diminished the problem. During the
year, 42 settlers were indicted for violence in the occupied territories;
however, most of these indictments were for crimes against Israeli security
forces rather than against Palestinians.
There were no reports that the Israeli Government held political prisoners.
The Israeli Government held hundreds of persons for security related
offenses (see Section 1.d.).
The PA courts are inefficient, lack staff and resources, and often
do not ensure fair and expeditious trials. The PA executive and security
services frequently ignore or fail to carry out court decisions and
otherwise inhibit judicial independence. In a report released in November,
HRW asserted that lack of judicial independence and the lack of rule
of law in the PA leads to the continuing problems of torture, extrajudicial
killings, and arbitrary detention (see Sections 1.a., 1.c., and 1.d.).
The PA inherited a court system largely based on structures and legal
codes predating the 1967 Israeli occupation. During the year, a new
law regarding the formation of the courts took affect, which changed
the types or sizes of cases that some of the civil court can conduct.
In each district there must be at least one conciliation court and a
court of first instance that hears appeals from that conciliation court,
and which has original jurisdiction of more serious cases. There is
a court of appeals in both Gaza and Ramallah to review decisions of
the first instance courts. Until this law took effect, the Courts of
Appeal also served as the High Court. The law established one High Court,
which will serve as an administrative court and the Constitutional Court
until these are formed by law. However, it is not clear how the judiciary
plans to manage this transitions, since there are limited resources
to make these changes to the judiciary. Additionally, it is not clear
how or when the changes will take effect, since Article 1 of the law
states that the courts are established pursuant to the Judicial Authority
law, which has not been implemented.
The PA executive at times does not respect decisions of the High Court,
and the Palestinian security agencies do not always enforce its rulings
(see Section 1.d.). In 1995 the PA established state security courts
in Gaza and the West Bank to try cases involving security issues. Three
military judges preside over each court. A senior police official heads
the state security court in Jericho, and three judges preside over it.
There is no right of appeal, but the PA Chairman reviews the court's
findings, and he may confirm or reject the decision. The PA Ministry
of Justice has no jurisdiction over the state security courts, which
are subordinate only to the Chairman. There is a separate Attorney General
appointed by the Chairman to work with the state security courts.
The Gaza legal code derives from Ottoman law, British Mandate law,
Egyptian law, and PA directives and laws. Pre-1967 Jordanian law applies
in the West Bank. Bodies of law in the Gaza Strip and West Bank have
been modified substantially by Israeli military orders. According to
the Declaration of Principles and the Interim Agreement, Israeli military
decrees issued during the occupation theoretically remained valid in
both areas and are subject to review pursuant to specific procedure.
The PA has stated that it was undertaking efforts to unify the Gaza
and West Bank legal codes, but it has made little progress. Human rights
advocates state that the PA's judiciary does not operate consistently.
The court system in general is recovering from years of neglect; many
of the problems predate PA jurisdiction. Judges and staff lack sufficient
resources and suffer from a lack of skills and training. Court procedures
and record keeping are antiquated. The delivery of justice often is
slow and uneven. The ability of the courts to obtain enforcement of
their decisions is extremely weak, and the appeals process is administratively
confusing. A heavy caseload even before the Intifada exacerbated these
systemic problems. During the year, the revolving caseload reportedly
increased by at least 60 percent, because judicial officials rarely
could reach the courthouse in time due to Israeli-imposed closures (see
The High Judicial Council (HJC) is slowly gaining authority over judicial
matters that formerly were administered by the PA Ministry of Justice.
In 1998 the Palestinian Legislative Council mandated the creation of
the HJC with the goal of enhancing the judicial system and its independence.
Arafat approved the establishment of the HJC in 2000. During the year,
the HJC planned the budget for the judicial branch, supervised judicial
operations in the West Bank and Gaza, and nominated more than 30 new
judges for the Chairman's confirmation. Prior to this year, the Ministry
of Justice appointed all civil judges for 10-year terms and supervised
The PA's state security courts fail to afford defendants due process.
The PA usually ignores the legal limits on the length of pre-arraignment
detention of detainees suspected of security offenses. Defendants often
are brought to court without knowledge of the charges against them or
sufficient time to prepare a defense. They typically are represented
by court-appointed lawyers, who generally are members of the security
services who have earned valid law degrees, but who had not practiced
trial law, or, in some cases, any law, as part of their career. Court
sessions often take place on short notice in the middle of the night,
and without lawyers present. In some instances, security courts try
cases, issue verdicts, and impose sentences in a single session lasting
a few hours.
During the year, the state security courts sentenced 10 persons to
death for collaboration with Israel in the killing of Palestinians.
In at least one of the cases, the trial reportedly was hasty, and the
defendant did not have adequate representation, bringing into question
whether the defendant received a fair judicial review. In January the
PA executed two men convicted on collaboration with Israel. The PA also
sentenced four men to life sentences with labor for collaboration. One
of the life sentences subsequently was commuted to a 15-year sentence
because the convict was a minor (age 17).
The state security courts adjudicate cases that fall far outside the
scope of the courts' original mandate. In addition to cases in which
violations of state security allegedly occurred, the courts have on
occasion dealt with tax cases and economic crimes, such as smuggling.
In 2000 Chairman Arafat decreed that "serious" crimes, including
homicide, rape, and drug trafficking, be referred to state security
courts. The decision prompted human rights organizations to issue statements
requesting the abolition of state security courts and the referral of
all cases to the regular civil courts.
There were no reports during the year that persons were convicted for
their political beliefs. A credible Palestinian prisoner rights organization
estimated that the PA held 180 to 200 political prisoners, as well as
approximately 340 Palestinians on charges of collaboration as of year's
end (see Section 1.d.).
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Israeli military authorities in areas of the West Bank under their
control may enter private Palestinian homes and institutions without
a warrant on security grounds when authorized by an officer of the rank
of lieutenant colonel or above. In conducting searches, both in areas
under Israeli control and during incursions into areas ostensibly under
PA control, IDF personnel have forced entry and in some cases have beaten
occupants and destroyed property. Israeli authorities state that forced
entry may occur lawfully only when incident to an arrest and when entry
is resisted. Authorities have stated that beatings and arbitrary destruction
of property during searches are punishable violations of military regulations
and that compensation is due to victims in such cases. The Israeli Government
stated that it does not keep consolidated information regarding the
claims against the Ministry of Defense for damages resulting from IDF
Israeli security forces may demolish or seal the home (owned or rented)
of a Palestinian suspected of terrorism without any judicial review.
The decision to seal or demolish a Palestinian's home is made by several
high-level Israeli officials, including the coordinator of the MATAK
and the Defense Minister, and usually are claimed to be designed to
combat terrorism. Residents of homes ordered demolished have 48 hours
to appeal to the area commander, and a final appeal may be made to the
Israeli High Court. (A successful appeal generally results in the conversion
of a demolition order to sealing.) However, during the year, numerous
homes belonging to Palestinians suspected of being terrorists were demolished
without providing the right of appeal during IDF incursions into Palestinian
controlled cities and towns. After a house is demolished military authorities
prohibit the owner from rebuilding or removing the rubble. Israelis
suspected of terrorism are subject to Israeli law and do not face the
threat of home demolition.
On the night of September 18, the Israeli Government expelled Bedouin
farmers from their homes in caves near the Jewish settlement of Ma'on,
stating that the area was a closed military zone. The IDF had taken
similar action against the same families in November 1999. In March
2000, the Israeli High Court of Justice had ordered that the farmers
be allowed to return to their homes. The September expulsion was carried
out to implement deportation orders that the IDF originally had issued
in April 2000 to returnees who were not party to the original legal
suit. Israeli peace groups strongly protested the move. A number of
Bedouin families reportedly were allowed to return to the area after
the IDF left. A petition on this case was filed with the High Court
of Justice and was pending at year's end. The Government of Israel expelled
the families following the killing of an Israeli citizen in the same
area on July 2.
From September 2000 through the end of the year, the IDF destroyed
numerous citrus orchards, olive and date groves, and irrigation systems
on Palestinian-owned agricultural land in both the West Bank and Gaza
(see Section 1.g.). The IDF generally destroyed these groves or orchards
for security reasons, because they stated that Palestinians had been
shooting from those areas.
The PA requires the Attorney General to issue warrants for entry and
searches of private property; however, Palestinian security services
frequently ignore these requirements. Police searched homes without
the consent of their owners. In some cases, police forcibly entered
premises and destroyed property.
PA security forces at times detained or placed under house arrest the
relatives of alleged security criminals. For example, the PA reportedly
arrested and detained two brothers of the suspects in the killing of
Israeli Tourism Minister Ze'evi (see Section 1.d.).
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian
Law in Internal Conflicts
During the year, Israeli security forces killed at least 501 Palestinians
and injured more than 6,300 others during violent demonstrations, armed
clashes, and military and security operations. At least 68 of the deaths
occurred during Israeli incursions into areas in which the PA has civilian
and security control (Area A). Palestinian demonstrators frequently
threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the IDF. In some demonstrations,
Palestinians, probably including off-duty members of the security forces,
also used firearms. In response Israeli security forces used a variety
of means to disperse demonstrators, including tear gas, rubber-coated
metal bullets, and live ammunition. Human rights groups charged that
in many instances, Israeli security forces at times used excessive force
against demonstrators and others, in contravention of their official
rules of engagement (see Section 1.a.). According to the IDF, its actions,
and its rules of engagement are based on a legal framework. It also
stated that it follows a policy of restraint and proportionality, and
that, to the extent possible, it avoids harming civilians.
IDF regulations permit the use of rubber-coated metal bullets and live
ammunition only when the life of the soldier or another person is imminently
threatened, and no other means of defense is available; to apprehend
a fleeing person suspected of having committed a dangerous offense who
has not responded to warning calls and shots; and to disperse a violent
demonstration or riot. A response to a violent demonstration must be
in clear escalatory stages--first tear gas, then warning shots in the
air, then rubber--coated steel bullets. IDF Open-Fire Regulations state
that in apprehending a fleeing suspect, soldiers are to direct fire
at the suspect's legs only. Soldiers are not permitted to fire at persons
suspected of having committed only minor offenses, such as refusal to
identify themselves or fleeing from security forces. Regulations prohibit
security force members from opening fire in the direction of children
or women, even in the case of severe public disorder, unless there is
an immediate and obvious danger to a soldier's life. Firing on a suspicious
vehicle at a checkpoint is permitted only when the soldiers at the site
are in a clearly life-threatening situation.
The IDF stated that it has revised its rules of engagement since the
beginning of the Intifada in order to allow for the use of live fire
when a life is imminently threatened. The definition of "life threatening"
can include situations in which persons are throwing stones. While in
general Israeli security forces have held their fire despite provocations,
there is credible evidence that the IDF has killed or injured Palestinians
or others in non-life threatening situations. IDF data indicates that
are no known cases in which an Israeli soldier on duty has ever been
killed by stone-throwing during the Intifada.
The IDF killed or injured a number of bystanders, including journalists,
medical personnel, and Palestinian civilians, when they fired into crowds
at demonstrations (see Sections 1.a. and 2.a.). The Palestinian Health,
Development, Information, and Policy Institute (HDIP) reported that
as of April, 75 percent of Palestinian deaths during the Intifada had
been due to live bullets, and that nearly 70 percent of the fatal injuries
were shots to the head, neck, and chest. Live bullets and rubber-coated
metal bullets had caused two-thirds of all injuries, 35-40 percent of
which were injuries to the head, neck, or chest. PRCS figures indicated
that more than 52 percent of the nearly 17,000 injuries to Palestinians
since the start of the Intifada were caused by live ammunition or rubber-coated
metal bullets. Palestinian medical groups estimated that more than 10
percent of the injuries will result in permanent disabilities (see Section
In addition to the damage to the PRCS headquarters in al-Bireh (during
two retaliatory attacks on the area), the PRCS Emergency Center in Jenin
and several ambulances there were damaged heavily during IDF shelling
of the city on September 11. The PRCS center remained closed at year's
The Israeli Government stated that it has ordered soldiers to refrain
from interfering with the provision of medical services, and to allow
ambulances and medical personnel to pass through checkpoints, and has
provided this information to soldiers. The Israeli Government further
stated that Palestinians have used ambulances to transport arms, and
that soldiers must balance these security considerations with humanitarian
According to the Government, Israeli ambulances and medical personnel
facilitated the medical evacuation of Palestinians to Israel, Jordan,
and other countries during the year.
During the Intifada, the IDF also used excessive force in responding
to a number of incidents at checkpoints and border areas that it considered
security situations, in contravention of the rules of its Open-Fire
Regulations. On May 15, three different television crews taped an Israeli
border guard shooting French journalist Bertrand Aguirre in Ramallah.
The tapes showed an Israeli border guard getting out of his vehicle,
adjusting his weapon, and opening fire at chest level. Aguirre, who
had just finished recording his report and was standing behind a group
of demonstrators, was hit in the chest; his bullet-proof vest saved
his life (see Section 2.a.).
On July 2, IDF soldiers shot and killed 32-year-old Radwan Ishtayeh
as he was throwing a bag of garbage out of his taxi onto the roadside
between Nablus and Salim village. The IDF soldiers stated that they
viewed the bag as a suspicious object. During the year, the IDF shot
and killed at least 25 Palestinians, including at least 5 persons with
mental retardation or deafness, for allegedly failing to stop at checkpoints
or for behaving suspiciously near a checkpoint, although it might not
have been apparent to the IDF that these persons were mentally retarded
(see Section 1.a.).
B'tselem, HDIP, the PRCS, among others stated that the closures and
curfews constituted collective punishment. The Israeli Government stated
that they are necessary security measures.
The IDF fired tank rounds, as well as rockets from helicopters and
military aircraft, on targets in cities and towns in the West Bank and
Gaza during operations undertaken in response to attacks on Israeli
soldiers, settlers, and civilians. In such strikes, the IDF killed at
least 93 Palestinians, injured hundreds, and caused significant property
damage (see Section 1.a.).
On June 9, an Israeli tank shelled the tent of three Bedouin women
in Gaza, killing them as they prepared for bed. The IDF had fired two
flechette tank shells, and one armor-piercing tank round at the tent
after hearing distant light gunfire. A report published in Ha'aretz
noted that an internal IDF investigation revealed that soldiers fired
from their tanks at the tent after seeing two figures in the dark, 1,400
meters away, despite the fact that their orders authorized them to fire
only up to 400 meters. Israeli authorities later stated that the killing
of the women was a mistake.
Israeli soldiers at times placed Palestinians directly in the line
of fire between the soldiers and their targets, or prevented civilians
from exiting buildings that were immediately surrounded during armed
operations. The IDF stated that they took these actions for the protection
of civilians. B'tselem reported one case in which IDF soldiers forced
a man to stand between the soldiers and Palestinian gunfire.
The Israeli Government's sustained imposition of internal and external
closures in the West Bank and Gaza during the year negatively impacted
Palestinians and contributed to shortages of basic food, water, and
medical care and supplies. A number of NGO's state that these actions
constituted collective punishment against a civilian population.
The external and internal closures contributed to increased unemployment
and poverty in the occupied territories. Approximately 125,000 West
Bank and Gaza workers, representing roughly 20 percent of the Palestinian
work force, depend on day jobs in Israel, Israeli settlements, and Jerusalem.
The closures on Palestinian cities and towns also impeded Palestinians
from reaching jobs or markets in the occupied territories and disrupted
internal and external trade. The closures, combined with the destruction
of large swathes of Palestinian-owned agricultural land and of economic
infrastructure by the IDF and settlers, contributed to an adjusted unemployment
rate of approximately 38 percent throughout the year. The poverty in
the occupied territories was 33 percent at the end of 2000 and was projected
to reach 50 percent by the end of the year. The roughly 200,000 Palestinians
who live in rural villages especially have been hard hit by all aspects
of the closures. Rural villages rarely are self-sustaining communities
and do not have the full range of services--such as medical care, education,
or municipal provision of water--that larger urban areas have, increasing
their isolation when community members are not able to travel outside
the area to obtain access to services and provisions. Other rural villages
under full Israeli control are further isolated from major Palestinian
The ICRC and various medical organizations stated that the prolonged
closure of Palestinian cities has caused significant problems in the
delivery of medical care, and that even in some cases in which urgent
treatment is critical to life and death, the IDF has prevented patients
from passing through checkpoints in order to get treatment. At least
24 persons have died as a result of delays in, or prohibition from,
crossing checkpoints to reach medical care. The closures have made it
impossible for most patients living outside large cities who need repeated
medical treatment, such as dialysis or physical therapy, to reach medical
centers on a regular basis. A senior PRCS official noted that more than
one-third of Palestinians who had been injured in the Intifada required
some type of physical rehabilitation and that at least 10 percent have
permanent disabilities. Medical professionals noted that many Palestinians
were delaying all but emergency medical care because of the restrictions
and economic conditions. Preventative treatment, such as vaccinations,
antenatal and postnatal care, and family planning in most cases are
postponed; and the number of births at home, in ambulances, and at checkpoints
has increased significantly. Medical observers have noted that as the
Intifada continued into a second year, the negative consequences will
begin to have a significant impact on public health.
In one example of a closure-related death, Sabri Amin Awad, a 49-year-old
Palestinian man from al-Ras (near Tulkarem), died on June 10 after failing
to reach the Nablus hospital in time for his dialysis treatment. IDF
troops refused to allow the taxi carrying Awad to proceed through a
checkpoint to the hospital, and forced it to take a long detour. While
en route, Awad lapsed into a coma and was pronounced dead on arrival
at the hospital. During the October incursions into Bethlehem, two different
pregnant women were refused passage into the city for medical care while
they were in labor. In one case a mother died before giving birth; in
the second case, the woman survived, but her newborn child died.
Closures and curfews also have affected the provision of emergency
medical care. Israeli security services stop and search all ambulances
at each checkpoint, which frequently adds life-threatening delays in
reaching hospitals. In responding to a call, each ambulance usually
proceeds through multiple checkpoints, and has to use substandard local
roads if the IDF denies them transit through any of the checkpoints.
For example, on September 1, it took 4 hours for a PRCS ambulance to
reach Jerusalem from Jericho because of checkpoint delays. Under normal
circumstances, the trip takes 45 minutes.
Israeli soldiers frequently have harassed and abused Palestinian emergency
services staff at the checkpoints (see Section 1.c.). The closures also
significantly impede the ability of medical staff to reach work. PRCS
estimates that across the territories approximately one-third of all
its staff arrive late or must leave early each day because of the difficulties
caused by the checkpoints and roadblocks.
Israel regularly transfers Palestinians arrested in the occupied territories
to prisons and detention facilities in Israel proper (see Section 1.d.).
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Israeli Government generally respects freedom of speech in the
occupied territories; however, it imposes some forms of censorship and
prohibits public expressions of support for Islamic extremist groups.
Although the Government and security forces do not target journalists
due to their profession, 2 journalists were killed and at least 10 injured
while covering events in the occupied territories during the year. During
the year, the Israeli Government continued to enforce selectively its
standing prohibition on the display in Jerusalem of Palestinian political
symbols, such as flags, national colors, and graffiti. Such displays
are punishable by fines or imprisonment. Israeli authorities reportedly
arrested and temporarily detained several Palestinians and foreign citizens
for carrying large Palestinian flags and banners during protests over
the closure of Orient House in East Jerusalem in August and September.
The protestors subsequently were released. Israeli enforcement of existing
censorship regulations increased during the year regarding press coverage
of the Intifada. Israeli authorities monitor Arabic newspapers based
in East Jerusalem for security-related issues, and newspapers sometimes
were ordered to halt publication of stories about the current security
situation until the information first appeared in the Israeli media.
Military censors review Arabic publications for material related to
the public order and security of Israel. Reports by foreign journalists
also are subject to review by Israeli military censors for security
issues, and the satellite feed used by many foreign journalists is monitored.
In periods of heightened security, the Israeli Government often closes
areas to journalists when it imposes a curfew or closure. Israeli authorities
have denied entry permits to Palestinian journalists traveling to their
place of employment in Jerusalem during closures of the territories
and the journalists have had difficulty renewing their Israeli issued
press credentials (see Section 2.d.).
The IDF requires a permit for Palestinian publications sold in areas
of the occupied territories under its control. Publications may be censored
or banned for content considered anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli. Possession
of banned materials is punishable by a fine and imprisonment. The Israeli
Government prohibits the delivery and distribution of publications,
including newspapers, in the Gaza Strip on the Jewish holiday of Yom
Kippur (when import of any item is prohibited) and on numerous other
occasions when the closure of the Gaza Strip is particularly tight.
On at least 15 days during the year, usually following major terrorist
incidents, the Israelis banned Palestinian daily newspapers from entering
Gaza. However, during such periods, Israeli newspapers were allowed
into Gaza. During internal closures, on more than 30 occasions, the
Israeli Government also blocked the delivery of Palestinian daily newspapers
to Palestinian cities in the West Bank.
Two journalists were killed during the year, although it did not appear
that they were targeted because of their profession. On July 31, two
freelance photojournalists, Fahim Qatini and Mohamad Bishawi, were killed
during an Israeli attack on two Hamas leaders in Nablus. At least 10
were injured by Israeli gunfire or during Israeli military actions during
Intifada-related violence throughout the year (see Section 1.c.). In
July the Paris-based organization Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) released
a statement expressing concern over alleged targeting of journalists
by Israeli forces. It noted that since the Intifada began in September
2000, 30 journalists had been shot. RSF further stated that, with one
exception, the apparent source of the gunfire was from Israeli positions.
In March an IDF soldier beat a Palestinian journalist as the journalist
was attempting to report on a sit-in at a checkpoint at Ramallah. Observers
commented that it was evident that the journalist was acting in his
professional capacity while covering the sit-in.
On December 12, Israeli fired rockets from helicopter gunships on Palestine
Broadcasting building in Ramallah, causing temporary suspension of its
Eight other journalists were wounded by gunfire during the year, four
lightly, three moderately, and one seriously (see Section 1.g.).
The PA restricts freedom of speech and of the press. In a number of
instances during the year, the PA took measures to limit free expression,
particularly regarding human rights and alleged security issues. Press
freedom is subject to a 1995 press law that does not protect the press
adequately. PA security services further stifle the independence of
the press by closing media outlets, banning publications or broadcasts,
and periodically harassing or detaining members of the media (see Section
1.d.). Palestinian commentators and human rights groups state that,
as a result, the practice of self-censorship by journalists is widespread.
There are three Palestinian dailies and several Palestinian weekly
newspapers. There also are several monthly magazines and three tabloids.
In addition to the official Palestinian Broadcast Corporation television
and radio, also known as Voice of Palestine, there are approximately
20 independently owned televisions stations and 9 radio stations in
the West Bank.
The Internet is available widely.
In March members of Force 17, Arafat's Presidential Security Force,
closed the Ramallah and Gaza bureaus of the al-Jazeera satellite television
station because the station refused to remove an old film clip of a
protester carrying a picture of Chairman Arafat with a pair of shoes
strung across his face, considered a serious insult in Arab culture.
The authorities allowed the bureaus to reopen 3 days later.
During the year, groups of armed Palestinians beat two journalists
and kidnaped two others for a 24-hour period. Two of the three armed
groups claimed to be from Fatah. One of the beatings reportedly followed
a report by the journalist's syndicate, Agence France-Presse (AFP),
that implicated the relative of a high-level Palestinian official in
the killing of a Palestinian child. The PA made no arrests in these
On September 14, Palestinian police detained five journalists who were
covering a demonstration at the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza held in
honor of Mohammed Hbeisheh, the perpetrator of the September 9 suicide-bomb
attack in Nahariya, Israel, which killed three Israelis. The police
confiscated their videotapes and film and released the journalists,
who included a Reuters photographer and editor, an Associated Press
television cameraman, a correspondent for the Abu Dhabi satellite television
station, and an AFP photographer, after approximately 11/2 hours. Four
of the detained journalists were Palestinian; one was Norwegian.
On September 20, Palestinian police and security force members closed
al-Ro'ah TV, a local private television station in Bethlehem. Hamdi
Farraj, the director of the station, stated that the authorities provided
no official reason for the closure. He believed that the closure most
likely was in reaction to broadcasts that the station had aired earlier
that day reporting on claims of responsibility by a Fatah-affiliated
group, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, for an attack the previous day that had
killed one Israeli settler and wounded a second. Faraj speculated that
the report had embarrassed the PA because it suggested that a group
associated with Arafat's Fatah had violated the recently announced Palestinian
Israeli-imposed closures, curfews, and military actions severely restricted
academic freedom by disrupting the operations of West Bank and Gaza
schools, colleges, and universities during the year. Students and staff
at all educational levels had difficulty traveling to and from educational
facilities because most areas were under some form of internal closure
for the entire year. In addition Israeli forces imposed curfews on many
Palestinian areas, some for 24 hours a day, for extended periods (see
Sections 2.d. and 5). Students from Gaza have been unable to reach West
Bank universities since early October 2000, when Israel closed the safe
passage route between Gaza and the West Bank. Some Gazan students who
were already at West Bank Universities for the 2000-2001 academic year
were unable to return home during the summer break because of the closure
of the safe passage route. Israeli retaliatory shelling and gunfire
damaged a number of schools in the West Bank and Gaza.
Palestinian schoolchildren in the Israeli-controlled section (H-2)
of Hebron were unable to attend school throughout the 143 days of curfew
that the area was under during the year. The 400 Israeli settler residents
of H-2, for whose benefit the curfews were imposed, had no restrictions
imposed on their movement or on the education of their children (see
The PA generally has authority over all levels of education in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip, and it controls the budgets of all public
colleges. The PA did not interfere with education in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip during the year.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Israeli Government placed limits on freedom of assembly for Palestinians
in the occupied territories, largely through the imposition of internal
closures and curfews (see Section 2.d.). Israeli military orders ban
public gatherings of 10 or more persons without a permit. Since the
1993 signing of the Declaration of Principles, Israel has relaxed enforcement
of this rule, except in cases of Palestinian demonstrations against
land seizures or settlement expansions.
Israeli security forces killed at least 103 Palestinians and injured
several thousand during demonstrations and other often violent clashes
(see Sections 1.a. and 1.c.). The Israeli and Palestinian authorities
regularly dispute whether Palestinians fired at security forces during
such demonstrations. The PA states that Israeli security forces often
resort to live fire even when Palestinian demonstrators have not shot
at them first. During the year, the IDF changed its definition of "life-threatening"
situations to include in some cases stone-throwing.
The PA imposes some formal limits on freedom of assembly; however,
while it requires permits for rallies, demonstrations, and large cultural
events, these permits rarely are denied. In Gaza police approval is
required for political meetings at several specific large meeting halls.
Written permission also is required for buses to transport passengers
to attend political meetings. In West Bank cities, the PA requires permits
for outdoor rallies and demonstrations and prohibits calls for violence,
displays of arms, and racist slogans, although this rarely is enforced.
The Israeli Government generally respected freedom of association;
however, it closed several Palestinian political institutions in East
On August 10, Israeli forces occupied and closed Orient House, the
preeminent Palestinian political institution in Jerusalem, and shut
down eight other Palestinian offices and social institutions in East
Jerusalem. The closings were part of the government's response to a
suicide bombing in Jerusalem the previous day; the Government stated
that it closed Orient House because it was engaged in political activity
in violation of the Interim Agreement. The other East Jerusalem institutions
that were closed included a women's center, a prisoner's rights society,
and an historical preservations group. The Israeli police arrested a
number of Palestinians and foreign nationals during protests calling
for the reopening of Orient House. At the end of August, the Jerusalem
municipal government seized the institutions' assets for alleged failure
to pay back taxes, while the authorities and attorneys from Orient House
still were negotiating the appropriate tax rate. Orient House remained
closed at year's end.
The PA placed some limits on freedom of association; however, the PA
permits Palestinian charitable, community, professional, and self-help
organizations to operate. There were periodic complaints during the
year from Palestinian political parties, social and professional groups,
and other NGO's that the PA attempted to limit their ability to act
autonomously. In May low-level officials in the Ministry of Non-Governmental
Organizations threatened Palestinian members of a foreign-licensed regional
environmental organization with the revocation of their NGO licenses
if they continued to participate in the activities of a particular organization.
They were told that their seats on a board of directors that had Israeli
members was unacceptable in the current political climate. A senior
member of the Ministry eventually apologized, and the authorities stopped
harassing the activists.
The armed wings of Hamas, PIJ, and other Palestinian opposition groups
remained outlawed. While it is not illegal to belong to other components
of these groups, during times of heightened security concern, the PA
has harassed and detained members of these other components (see Section
c. Freedom of Religion
Israeli law provides for freedom of worship, and the Government generally
respects this right in practice in the occupied territories. Israel
does not ban any group on religious grounds, and permits all faiths
to operate schools and institutions. Religious publications in East
Jerusalem are subject to the Publications Laws, including prohibition
against the publications, for example, sermons, that incite violence
against Israelis or against the state of Israel. However, Israel's imposed
closure of the West Bank and Gaza, including the internal closure that
severely restricted travel between towns and cities within the occupied
territories, significantly impeded freedom of worship for Muslims and
Christians. Israeli closure policies prevented tens of thousands of
Palestinians from reaching their places of worship in Jerusalem and
the West Bank, including during religious holidays such as Ramadan,
Christmas, and Easter. In early April, Israeli authorities prevented
thousands of Muslims from reaching the Nabi Musa shrine near Jericho,
the site of an annual 3-week Muslim celebration. Israeli officials stated
that they decided to cancel the religious festival because the PA intended
to turn the event into a "political rally." On numerous occasions,
the Israeli Government also prevented worshippers under the age of 45
from attending Friday prayers inside the Haram al-Sharif. In addition
a number of Palestinian religious leaders were prevented from reaching
their congregations. The Israeli Government states that such actions
are necessary for security reasons.
Since the outbreak of the Intifada, Israeli police have prevented all
non-Muslims (including Jews seeking to pray) from entering the Temple
Mount/Haram al-Sharif. The Government has cited security concerns for
On January 9, Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in the West Bank fired
at the car of Latin Vice-Patriarch and Archbishop of Nazareth Paul Marcuzzo;
his car bore diplomatic license plates and was flying the Vatican flag.
Archbishop Marcuzzo was not injured in the shooting. The following day,
the Israeli Minister of Justice visited Marcuzzo and apologized for
In October the Government of Israel announced that it had arrested
the Mufti of Ramallah, interrogated him, and then expelled him from
Jerusalem for attempting to attend prayers at al-Aqsa on Friday, September
14, without permission from the Government.
The PA has no law that specifically protects religious freedom; however,
the PA generally respects religious freedom in practice. Islam is treated
as the de facto religion. In past years, there were unconfirmed allegations
that a small number of Muslim converts to Christianity were subject
to societal discrimination and harassment by PA officials. However,
there were no such reports during the year (see Section 5).
Churches in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza may be subdivided into
three general categories: 1) churches recognized by the status quo agreements
reached under Ottoman rule in the late 19th century; 2) Protestant and
evangelical churches that were established between the late 19th century
and 1967, which are fully tolerated by the PA, although not officially
recognized; and 3) a small number of churches that became active within
the last decade, whose legal status is more tenuous.
The first group of churches is governed by the 19th century status
quo agreements, which the PA respects and which specifically established
the presence and rights of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian
Orthodox, Assyrian, Greek Catholic, Coptic, and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches.
The Episcopal and Lutheran Churches were added later to the list. These
churches and their rights were accepted immediately by the PA, just
as the British, Jordanians, and Israelis had done before. Like Shari'a
courts under Islam, these religious groups are permitted to have ecclesiastical
courts whose rulings are considered legally binding on personal status
issues and some land issues. Civil courts do not adjudicate on such
According to the PA, no other churches have applied for official recognition.
However, the second group of churches, including the Assembly of God,
Nazarene Church, and some Baptist churches, has unwritten understandings
with the PA based on the principles of the status quo agreements. They
are permitted to operate freely and are able to perform certain personal
status legal functions, such as issuing marriage certificates.
The third group of churches consists of a small number of proselytizing
churches, including Jehovah's Witnesses and some evangelical Christian
groups. These groups have encountered opposition in their efforts to
obtain recognition, both from Muslims, who oppose their proselytizing,
and Christians, who fear that the new arrivals may disrupt the status
quo. These churches generally operate unhindered by the PA. At least
one of these churches reportedly planned to request official recognition
from the PA during the year; however, it deferred its request after
the outbreak of the Intifada in October 2000.
In practice the PA requires individuals to be at least nominally affiliated
with some religion. Religion must be declared on identification papers,
and all personal status legal matters must be handled in either Shari'a
or Christian ecclesiastical courts. In the absence of legal protection
of religious freedom, there are no statutory or regulatory remedies
for violations of that freedom.
Islam is the de facto official religion of the Palestinian Authority,
and its Islamic institutions and places of worship receive preferential
treatment. The PA has a Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs that
pays for the construction and maintenance of mosques and the salaries
of many Palestinian imams. The Ministry also provides some Christian
clergymen and Christian charitable organizations with limited financial
support. The PA does not provide financial support to any Jewish institutions
or holy sites in the occupied territories.
The PA requires that religion be taught in PA schools. Until recently,
only courses on Islam were taught, and Christian students were excused
from them. However, during the year, the PA implemented a compulsory
curriculum that requires the study of Christianity for Christian students
in grades one through six.
Since the outbreak of the Intifada, Waqf officials have prohibited
non-Muslims from entering the sanctuary of the Haram al-Sharif. Waqf
officials stated that this is a temporary closure because they cannot
justify allowing non-Muslims to visit the Haram at a time when Palestinian
Muslims from the occupied territories are prevented from worshiping
On April 8, Israeli settlers vandalized the al-Aqtat mosque in Hebron
and desecrated religious literature. On a number of occasions, Muslims
on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif threw stones at Jews who were praying
at the Western Wall below (see Section 5).
In October 2000, following the IDF evacuation from the Jewish religious
site of Joseph's Tomb, approximately 1,000 Palestinian protesters entered
the religious site, burned it, and damaged the roof and an outer wall
in an unsuccessful attempt to demolish the tomb (see Section 5). The
PA states that they have completed the refurbishment of Joseph's Tomb,
but has not indicated whether it will allow Jews to return to the Tomb.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Occupied Territories, Foreign Travel,
Emigration, and Repatriation
The Israeli Government severely restricted freedom of movement for
Palestinians during the year, in response to the continuing violence
of the Intifada. Most Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza were
prohibited from entering Israel throughout the year, and the IDF instituted
a massive network of checkpoints and roadblocks across the occupied
territories, impeding the movement of people and goods between Palestinian
cities, villages, and towns. The restrictions on movement during the
year were the most severe that Israel has imposed since it occupied
East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza in 1967.
Since March 1993, Israel has required that all West Bank and Gaza residents
obtain permits to enter Israel and Jerusalem. However, Israel often
denies applicants permits with no explanation, and does not allow effective
means of appeal. Palestinian officials with VIP passes, including PA
cabinet officials and members of the Palestinian Council, regularly
have been subjected to long delays and searches at Israeli checkpoints
in the West Bank, despite the fact that they were traveling on special
passes issued by the Israeli Government. This practice increased markedly
during the year. Even in periods before the Intifada, Palestinians in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip found it difficult to obtain permits to
work, visit, study, or obtain medical care in Israel. Israeli authorities
permit only a small number of Gazans to bring vehicles into Israel and
sometimes do not permit West Bank vehicles to enter Jerusalem or Israel.
Except for senior PA officials, Palestinians of all ages crossing between
the Gaza Strip and Israel are not permitted to travel by car across
the main checkpoint. Instead, they must travel along a narrow walkway
almost a mile long. Israelis moving into and out of the Gaza Strip are
permitted to use their cars. Israeli officials sometimes prohibit Palestinian
residents of Jerusalem from entering the West Bank. Israeli authorities
also require that these Palestinian residents provide written notice
to the Israeli Government if they intend to travel to the Gaza Strip;
however, provision of such notice does not ensure that the Government
will permit the travel.
In November 1999, Israel and the PA implemented arrangements in the
1995 Interim Agreement to establish a safe passage route across Israel
between the Gaza Strip and the southern West Bank. The southern safe
passage route was closed in October 2000, in response to the outbreak
of the Intifada. Prior to its closing, the southern safe passage route
facilitated the movement of Palestinians between the West Bank and the
Gaza Strip to work, study, and visit, and alleviated some of the problems
associated with freedom of movement for Palestinians. However, some
Palestinian human rights groups criticized the safe passage agreement
because it maintains significant limits on freedom of movement.
Also since March 1993, Israel has applied varying levels of "closure,"
or enhanced restrictions, on the movement of Palestinians and their
goods, often for lengthy periods, in response to Palestinian terrorist
attacks and other changing security conditions. During periods of violent
protest in the West Bank or Gaza, or when it believes that there is
an increased likelihood of such unrest, the Israeli Government imposes
a tightened version of closure, called "comprehensive, external"
closure. Comprehensive closures also are instituted regularly during
major Israeli holidays. During such closures, the Israel Government
cancels travel permits and prevents Palestinians--even those with valid
work permits--from entering Israel or Jerusalem. During comprehensive
closures, the authorities severely restrict the movement of goods between
Israel and the occupied territories and between the West Bank and Gaza.
Due to the ongoing unrest, Israel imposed at least 210 days of total
closure during the year, compared with 88 days in 2000 and 15 days in
During periods of extreme unrest in the West Bank and Gaza, the Israeli
Government also prohibits most travel between towns and villages within
the West Bank. These "internal" closures impede the flow of
goods, including food and fuel, and persons. Israel expanded internal
closure further during the year, in response to the sustained violence
of the Intifada. The internal closures may be severe when Palestinians
are prohibited from using primary roads and physical barricades close
off many secondary roads--or partial when most secondary roads but only
some main roads are accessible to Palestinians, and roadblocks and checkpoints
dot the open roads. Israel authorities imposed approximately 87 days
of partial internal closure and 278 days of severe internal closure
in the West Bank during the year, compared with 81 days of internal
closure during 2000 and no days in 1999. In the past, Israeli authorities
rarely imposed internal closure within Gaza. However, during the year,
the Israeli government imposed roughly 361 days of limited internal
closure and 4 days of severe internal closure in Gaza.
The Israeli Government further constrained the movement of Palestinians
and goods in the West Bank and Gaza by imposing total closures on specific
areas or villages, sometimes for weeks at a time, and by intermittently
closing the Gaza Airport and the Allenby and Rafah crossing points to
Jordan and Egypt. Israel also imposed curfews in some areas, often for
extended periods. During the curfews, Palestinians generally were confined
to their homes for all but a few hours per week during which they were
allowed to buy food and other provisions. The IDF placed the approximately
30,000 Palestinian residents of the Israeli-controlled (H-2) section
of Hebron under near total curfew for 143 days during the year. The
IDF imposed no restrictions on the approximately 400 Jewish settlers
who live in the area.
The prolonged closures and curfews imposed by the Government of Israel
on Palestinian cities and towns during the year had a severely negative
impact on every sector of the Palestinian economy. They impeded Palestinians
from reaching jobs or markets and disrupted internal and external trade
(see Section 1.g.).
The prolonged closure also affected students' ability to attend school
and university (see Sections 2.a. and 5.).
B'tselem, HDIP, and the PRCS, among others stated that the closures
and curfews constituted collective punishment. The Israeli Government
states that they are necessary security measures (see Section 1.g.).
Human rights groups reported that during the year the IDF delayed or
prohibited ambulances from crossing checkpoints (see Section 1.g.).
In 1998 the Israeli Government established a "continuous employment
program" that allows selected Palestinian workers who have been
approved by the Ministry of Defense, and who are married, are over 28
years old, and have worked in Israel for a long period of time, to enter
Israel to work even in the event of a tightened closure. The program
was not implemented during the year.
The Israeli Government continued to restrict the movements of several
Jewish settlers living in the occupied territories who belonged to the
extremist Kach or Kahane Chai groups, through the use of administrative
orders issued by the IDF central command.
The Israeli Government requires all Palestinian residents to obtain
permits for foreign travel and has restricted the travel of some political
activists. Bridge-crossing permits to Jordan may be obtained at post
offices without a screening process.
Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied during
the 1967 War, generally do not accept Israeli citizenship. Therefore,
the Israeli Government issues them a residence permit or Jerusalem identification
card. Israel applies the 1952 Law of Permanent Residency and its 1974
amendments to Jerusalem identification card holders. The law stipulates
that a Jerusalem resident loses the right of residence if he or she
leaves Israeli territory for more than 7 years, acquires the nationality
of another country, or acquires permanent residence in another country.
Such persons are permitted to return only as tourists and sometimes
are denied entry. The Israeli Government does not apply these same restrictions
to Israeli citizens.
In the past, invoking the 1952 law as legal justification, the Israeli
Interior Ministry stripped residency rights from hundreds of East Jerusalem
Palestinians. In the late 1990's, the pace of revocations increased
as the Ministry applied restricted policies, including a "center
of life" test, which required extensive documentation of continuous
residence within Jerusalem for the previous 7 years, to determine whether
Palestinians were eligible to retain their identification cards. The
Ministry's policy was the subject of numerous lawsuits, including one
considered by the High Court of Justice in 1999. In October 1999, then-Minister
of Interior Natan Sharansky announced that the Ministry no longer would
apply the center of life criteria used previously to revoke the residency
rights of East Jerusalem Palestinians. As of the end of August, there
had been at least 60 identity card revocations, compared with 207 revocations
in 2000, and 414 revocations in 1999.
In February 2000, the Israeli Ministry of Interior also published new
instructions regarding residency rights in Jerusalem. According to these
instructions, residents of Israel whose identity cards had been revoked
since 1995 and who returned to live in Israel since 1998 and had maintained
"an appropriate connection," were entitled to restoration
of their identity cards. Although the new guidelines still permit the
revocation of residency in cases in which East Jerusalem Palestinians
obtained new citizenship or residency rights while living abroad, human
rights groups report a significant reduction in such revocations. As
of the end of August, there had been 236 identity cards restored during
the year; 818 were restored in 2000.
Israeli authorities also place restrictions on family reunification.
Most Palestinians who were abroad before or during the 1967 War, or
who have lost their residence permits for other reasons since then,
are not permitted to reside permanently with their families in Jerusalem
or the occupied territories. Foreign-born spouses and children of Palestinian
residents also experience difficulty in obtaining permission to reside
with their family members. For example, a Palestinian with a West Bank
identification card must apply to the Israeli Government for permission
to live with his or her Jerusalem-resident spouse in Jerusalem. Palestinians
report delays of several years or more before spouses are granted residency
permits. The Israeli Government occasionally issues limited-duration
permits, which must be renewed. Renewing the permits may take up to
8 months, a common delay that results in many Palestinians falling out
of status. Palestinians also report extensive delays in registering
newborn children with Israeli authorities. In practice, women with Jerusalem
residence rights find it more difficult to obtain permission for their
spouses to reside in Jerusalem than do men, since Israeli security authorities
consider Palestinian males to be greater security risks.
The PA issues passports and identification cards for Palestinians who
reside in the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israeli Government requires
residents of the West Bank and Gaza to use their Palestinian passports
to exit and enter Israel. Bearers of Palestinian passports do not need
special exit permits from the PA; however, when leaving the area via
Ben Gurion Airport, the Israeli Government requires Palestinians to
obtain permits to transit Israel to reach the airport. Since the beginning
of the Intifada in September 2000, the Israeli Government rarely has
granted such permits to Palestinians unless the applicant is a dual
national. However, even dual nationals, in particular residents of Gaza,
have had difficulty in obtaining the needed transit permits. Palestinian
residents of the West Bank and Gaza are prohibited from using the Sheikh
Hussein or Arava crossings. As a result, most Palestinians who are not
dual nationals can exit and enter the West Bank and Gaza only via the
Allenby Bridge or Rafah crossing points, which were closed completely
several times during the year.
Palestinians who hold Jerusalem identification cards, issued by the
Israeli Government, must obtain special travel documents from the Israeli
Government to travel abroad. Human rights groups report that Palestinian
residents of East Jerusalem often do not apply for Israeli travel documents
because they fear that the application might prompt a reexamination
of their residency status and lead to the revocation of their identity
On request, the Jordanian Government also issues travel documents to
Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians who wish
to travel to Jordan must leave their Israeli identification documents
with Israeli authorities at the Allenby Bridge. The Israeli authorities
also require that Palestinians from East Jerusalem obtain a special
permit to cross the Allenby Bridge, which they must purchase from the
Ministry of Interior for $40 (185 NIS). Restrictions on residence, reentry,
and family reunification only apply to Palestinian residents of the
The PA generally does not restrict freedom of movement.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change
Palestinian residents of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem
chose their first popularly elected government in 1996. They elected
an 88-member Palestinian Council and the Ra'iis (President or Chairman)
of the Executive Authority of the Council. Yasir Arafat won almost 89
percent of the vote in a two-person race for Chairman. Approximately
700 candidates competed for Council seats. Voters elected Council members
to multimember electoral districts. As many as 35 of the elected members
were independent candidates. International observers concluded that
the election could reasonably be regarded as generally free and fair,
despite some irregularities. During the year, the Council debated numerous
draft laws and resolutions. Some members of the Council state that it
has a relative lack of power in relation to the executive branch of
The last municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza took place in
1986. New elections were planned for June 1999, but they did not take
place. In August 2000, the Fatah Central Committee (FCC) appointed a
committee to devise a plan for holding local elections before year's
end. Although the Ministry of Local Government supported the idea, Arafat
and the PLO Central Committee did not endorse the proposal actively
before the outbreak of the Intifada in September 2000. Incumbent municipal
officials serve until the following elections. In the case of the death
or resignation of an incumbent, the Ministry of Local Government appoints
a replacement, with the approval of the PA Chairman.
Most Palestinians in East Jerusalem do not recognize the jurisdiction
of the municipality of Jerusalem. Only a very small percentage of Jerusalem's
Palestinian population vote in the municipal council elections. No Palestinian
resident of Jerusalem sits on the city council.
The percentage of women in government and politics in the West Bank
and Gaza does not correspond to their percentage of the population.
There are 5 women on the 88-member Council, and 1 woman serves in a
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Israeli, Palestinian, and international NGO's monitor the Israeli Government's
human rights practices. The Israeli Government generally cooperates
with human rights and humanitarian NGO's; officials normally agree to
meet with human rights monitors. The Israeli Government permits human
rights groups to publish and hold press conferences.
UNRWA has reported increased delays for its personnel and vehicles
at crossing checkpoints. Other humanitarian groups, such as PRCS, also
During their seizure of the Orient House, Israeli security officials
confiscated office equipment, as well as documents belonging to the
organization and other Palestinian groups in Jerusalem. The Government
of Israel had not provided representatives of the Orient House a full
accounting of the documents and property seized by year's end.
Local human rights groups, most of which are Palestinian, and several
international organizations monitor the PA's human rights practices.
The PA generally cooperates with these organizations, and PA officials
usually meet with their representatives. Several Palestinian human rights
organizations work privately with the PA to overcome abusive practices
in certain areas, and state that the PA generally is cooperative when
dealing with them regarding certain human rights issues. They also publish
criticism if they believe that the PA is not responding adequately to
private encouragement. Public criticism has been somewhat less forthcoming
from them since the outbreak of the Intifada, with several NGO's voluntarily
deciding to focus their efforts on the Palestinian struggle for basic
rights and to defer comprehensive critiques of the PA's human rights
performance. Human rights organizations reported that they sometimes
were denied access to detainees in Palestinian prisons during the year
(see Section 1.d.). Observers have noted that due partly to the hesitancy
of alleged victims to file or make public claims of abuse against the
PA authorities, documentation of abuses is very limited.
Some PA security organizations, including the General Intelligence
Organization in the West Bank and the police, have appointed officials
to act as liaisons with human rights groups. These officers meet with
human rights organizations and members of the diplomatic community to
discuss human rights cases.
The ICRC operates in the West Bank and Gaza under the terms of a memorandum
of understanding signed in September 1996 between the ICRC and the PLO.
Other human rights groups, including the Palestinian Independent Commission
for Citizens' Rights and the Mandela Institute, also visit PA prisons
and detention centers on a regular basis. Some human rights and international
humanitarian organizations reported that they occasionally encountered
delays in obtaining access to detainees in Palestinian prisons during
the year. PA officials reportedly are less responsive to queries regarding
the PA's policies toward and treatment of collaborators and members
of Islamist opposition groups than to queries on other detainees (see
Sections 1.c. and 1.d.).
In January 2000, Chairman Arafat approved the NGO law, which had been
passed by the PLC in December 1998, and which governs the activities
of NGO's and their relations with the PA. By year's end, the Government
of Israel had issued registration certificates for 150 of the approximately
350 new and existing NGO's that submitted applications. The remaining
applications still were under review.
In May low-level officials in the Ministry of Non-Governmental Organizations
threatened Palestinian members of a foreign licensed regional organization
with the revocation of their NGO license. The Ministry informed the
members that their place on a board of directors that had Israeli members
was unacceptable in the current political climate. A senior member of
the Ministry eventually apologized, and the authorities stopped harassing
the activists (see Section 2.d.).
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability,
Language, or Social Status
Under the complex mixture of laws and regulations that apply to the
occupied territories, Palestinians are disadvantaged under Israeli law
and practices compared with the treatment received by Israeli settlers.
This includes discrimination in residency and land use. In the Palestinian
territories homosexuals generally are socially marginalized, and occasionally
receive physical threats. During the year, in one widely publicized
case, after one homosexual man reportedly received a number of threats
he left the territories to live in Israel; however, he is ineligible
for Israeli citizenship.
The law does not explicitly prohibit domestic violence, but beating
is a crime; however, there are anecdotal reports indicate that domestic
violence has risen during the Intifadah.
The problems of rape, domestic violence, and violence related to "family
honor" have gained greater attention in the Palestinian community
as a result of a significant effort by Palestinian women's groups; however,
public discussion generally remains muted. The crimes almost exclusively
are tied to alleged sexual interactions of female family members with
men who are not their husbands. This could include rape, a sexual encounter
with any man except a woman's husband, being seen alone with a male
not her family member. Honor crimes result when family members beat
or kill women in response to such alleged violations of their family's
honor. Victims of violence often are encouraged by relatives to remain
quiet and are punished themselves or blamed for the "shame"
that has been brought upon them and their families. Women's groups seek
to educate women on these problems, but women's rights advocates state
that few resources are available to shelter the victims of violence
because women's shelters are not accepted culturally in Palestinian
society. They also maintain that society has not been receptive to providing
counseling or outreach services to victims of violence, which these
advocates see as more widespread than is acknowledged. According to
women's groups, there are no reliable data on the incidence of violence
Spousal abuse, sexual abuse, and "honor killings" occur,
but societal pressures prevent most incidents from being reported and
most cases are handled within the families concerned, usually by male
family members. However, there are increasing anecdotal reports from
women's and humanitarian groups that the incidence of domestic abuse
has risen significantly during the Intifada.
Rape is illegal; however, it occurs. No figures are available regarding
the extent of the problem. Spousal rape is not explicitly prohibited.
Palestinian women endure various forms of social prejudice and repression
within their own society. Due to early marriages, some girls, especially
in rural areas, do not finish the mandatory level of schooling. Cultural
restrictions at times prevent women from attending colleges and universities.
Women who marry outside of their faith, particularly Christian women
who marry Muslim men, often are disowned by their families and sometimes
are harassed and threatened with death by members of their community.
Local officials sometimes attempt to convince such women to leave their
communities in order to protect themselves.
Before the Intifada began in October 2000, a growing number of Palestinian
women were working outside the home, where they often encountered discrimination
and occasionally experienced sexual harassment. There are no special
laws that provide for women's rights in the workplace. Women are underrepresented
in most aspects of professional life. Despite the fact that there is
a small group of women who are prominent in politics, medicine, law,
teaching, and NGO's, women for the most part are seriously underrepresented
in the decision-making positions in these fields.
Personal status law for Palestinians is based on religious law. For
Muslim Palestinians, personal status law is derived from Shari'a (Islamic
law). The varied ecclesiastical courts rule on personal status issues
for Christians. In the West Bank and Gaza, Shari'a pertaining to women
is part of the Jordanian Status Law of 1976, which includes inheritance
and marriage laws. Under the law, women inherit less than male members
of the family do. The marriage law allows men to take more than one
wife, although few do so. Women are permitted to make "stipulations"
in the marriage contract to protect them in the event of divorce and
questions of child custody; however, only an estimated 1 percent of
women take advantage of this provision, leaving most women at a disadvantage
in the areas of divorce or child custody. Ecclesiastical courts also
often favor men over women in divorce and child custody cases.
While there is an active women's movement in the West Bank, serious
attention has shifted only recently from nationalist aspirations to
issues that greatly affect women, such as domestic violence, equal access
to education and employment, and laws concerning marriage and inheritance.
The PA provides for compulsory education through the ninth grade, when
children usually reach 15 years of age. However, early marriage in certain
sectors of society at times prevents girls from completing the mandatory
level of schooling. Especially in rural areas and refugee camps, boys
often leave school before they reach the mandatory age in order to help
support their families.
The internal closure across the occupied territories significantly
impeded the ability of both students and teachers to reach educational
facilities (see Section 2.a. and 2.d.). In areas under curfew, all classes
Numerous education and health care professionals acknowledged that
students were affected badly by the violent security situation, which
interfered with learning and which was manifesting itself in lack of
focus, nightmares, daytime and nighttime incontinence, and other behavioral
problems. UNRWA reported that test scores in its West Bank and Gaza
schools had dropped measurably in during the year. Palestinian schoolchildren
in the Israeli-controlled section (H-2) of Hebron have been unable to
attend school throughout the 143 days of curfew that the area was under
during the year. The Hebron municipality tried to compensate for the
lost schooldays by broadcasting some lessons on the local television
station. The 400 Israeli settler residents of H-2, for whose benefit
the curfews were imposed, had no restrictions imposed on their movement
or on the education of their children.
The PA Ministry of Health provides for children's immunizations. The
PA insurance program provides basic medical care for children, for a
small monthly fee.
Child abuse is not prohibited explicitly by law; however, abuse exists
but is not a widespread problem. Parents or families that fail to protect
children from abuse may be penalized by law. PA courts may provide protections
for children in "difficult situations," including cases of
neglect or abuse. The Ministry of Social Affairs may intervene by bringing
a case before a court, which would decide how to best protect the child.
The judge may decide to place a child in an official protective institution,
or with an alternate family. There is one protective institution for
children in Gaza and one in the West Bank.
British Mandate, Jordanian, and military laws, from which West Bank
and Gaza law is derived, offer protection to children under the Labor
and Penal Codes. Existing laws designed to protect children, such as
a law that sets the minimum employment age, are not always enforced
(see Section 6.d.). While there is no juvenile court system, judges
specializing in children's cases generally sit for juvenile offenders.
In cases in which the child is the victim, judges have the discretion
to remove the child from a situation considered harmful. However, the
system is not advanced in the protection it affords children.
Palestinians living in East Jerusalem continue to be discriminated
against in terms of their access to municipal services compared to other
residents of Jerusalem. According to the Association for Civil Rights
in Israel (ACRA), the Government of Israel and the municipality have
not kept their pledge to the High Court to build three new infant-care
clinics in East Jerusalem. In addition East Jerusalem schools remain
underfunded and overcrowded, and many students are denied an education
in public schools due to lack of space. The Government agreed to build
245 new classrooms within the next 4 years in order to alleviate this
problem; however, no funds were budgeted for this purpose during the
year, and the 2002 budget included only enough funds for 60 new classrooms.
International and domestic NGO's, including UNICEF, Save the Children,
and Defense for Children International, promote the rights and welfare
of children in the occupied territories. There also are numerous Palestinian
social welfare organizations that focus on developing and providing
educational, medical, and cultural services to children. A number of
other groups specialize in addressing the needs of children with disabilities.
Persons with Disabilities
There is no mandated accessibility to public facilities in the occupied
territories under either Israeli law or Palestinian authority. Many
Palestinians with disabilities are segregated and isolated from Palestinian
society; they are discriminated against in most spheres, including education,
employment, transportation, and access to public buildings and facilities.
There were approximately 130,000 Palestinians with disabilities in the
West Bank and Gaza prior to the outbreak of the current Intifada. The
Health, Development, Information, and Policy Institute estimates that
approximately one-tenth of the Palestinians injured in the Intifada
will have permanent disabilities.
Some Palestinian institutions care for and train persons with disabilities;
however, their efforts are consistently under-funded.
Relations between Christians and Muslims generally are amicable. However,
tensions do occasionally surface. The Israeli press has reported several
unconfirmed instances of tensions between those groups. In May and June,
Israeli press reports accused Tanzim militia members of deliberately
opening fire on the Israeli neighborhood of Gilo from Christian areas
in Beit Jala in order to draw IDF fire onto the Christian homes. In
response to inquiries, several Palestinian Christian leaders in the
area denied that the shooting was motivated by anti-Christian sentiments,
although some have indicated that they may have done so under duress.
In past years, there were unconfirmed allegations that a small number
of Muslim converts to Christianity were subject to societal discrimination
and harassment by PA officials. However, there were no reports of such
harassment during the year.
On April 8, Israeli settlers vandalized the al-Aqtat Mosque in Hebron
and desecrated religious literature. On a number of occasions, Palestinians
on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif threw stones at Jews who were praying
at the Western Wall below.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
Labor affairs in the West Bank and Gaza came under Palestinian responsibility
with the signing of the Interim Agreement in September 1995. During
the year, labor affairs in the West Bank were governed by Jordanian
Law 21 of 1965, as amended by Israeli military orders, and in Gaza by
PA decisions. On May 2, Arafat signed a labor law that was scheduled
to take effect in January 2002; however, it reportedly faced strong
resistance from the Palestinian business community, which could delay
its implementation. The Palestinian law permits workers to establish
and join unions without government authorization. The previous Israeli
requirement that all proposed West Bank unions apply for a permit no
longer is enforced. Israeli authorities previously licensed approximately
35 of the estimated 185 union branches currently in existence. Following
a process to consolidate trade unions in the West Bank, there were 12
trade unions there. No unions were dissolved by administrative or legislative
action during the year.
Palestinian workers in Jerusalem are governed by Israeli labor law.
They are free to establish their own unions. Although the Israeli Government
restricts unions in Jerusalem from joining West Bank trade union federations,
this restriction has not been enforced. Individual Palestinian workers
in Jerusalem may belong simultaneously to unions affiliated with West
Bank federations and the Israeli Histadrut Labor Federation.
West Bank unions are not affiliated with the Israeli Histadrut Federation.
Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who work in Israel or Jerusalem
are not full members of Histadrut, but they are required to contribute
1 percent of their wages to Histadrut. Their partial membership entitles
them to limited benefits, including compensation in the case of on-the-job
injuries, maternity leave, and compensation in the case the employer
declares bankruptcy. (Full members of Histadrut also receive health
insurance, social security benefits, pensions, and unemployment benefits.)
Negotiations between Histadrut and West Bank union officials to return
half of this fee to the Palestinian Union Federation were completed
in 1996, but funds have yet to be transferred.
The great majority of West Bank and Gaza unions belong to the Palestinian
General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). The PGFTU was involved in
the completion of the negotiations with Histadrut regarding workers'
fees. The reorganization of unions under the PGFTU is intended to enable
the West Bank and Gaza unions to better represent the union members'
An estimated 95,000 to 100,000 workers in the West Bank are members
of the PGFTU, the largest union bloc, which consists of 12 trade unions
in the West Bank and 8 in Gaza. The organization has approximately 46,500
members in Gaza. The PGFTU estimates that actual organized membership,
i.e., dues-paying members, includes approximately 30 percent of all
Palestinian unions that seek to strike must submit to arbitration by
the PA Ministry of Labor. If the union disagrees with the final arbitration
and strikes, a tribunal of senior judges appointed by the PA decides
what, if any, disciplinary action is to be taken, such as a fine. There
are no laws in the occupied territories that specifically protect the
rights of striking workers. In practice such workers have little or
no protection from an employer's retribution. There were no reported
labor strikes during the year.
The PGFTU participates in some programs of the International Confederation
of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), but is not a member.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
A majority of workers in the occupied territories are self-employed
or unpaid family helpers in agriculture or commerce. Only 35 percent
of employment in the occupied territories consists of wage jobs. Most
of such employment is through the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA),
the PA, or municipalities. Collective bargaining is protected. Labor
disputes are adjudicated by committees of 3 to 5 members in businesses
employing more than 20 workers.
Existing laws and regulations do not offer real protection against
There are no export processing zones in the occupied territories.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
PA law does not prohibit specifically forced or compulsory labor, including
forced and bonded labor by children, but there were no reports of such
practices during the year.
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
The minimum legal working age in the West Bank and Gaza is 15 years,
and there are special limits governing the conditions of employment
for juveniles between 15 and 18 years, including prohibitions against
working at night, under conditions of hard labor, or in jobs that require
them to travel outside their area of domicile. However, in practice
many Palestinian children under the age of 15 are engaged in some form
of work. Many children under the age of 12 are engaged in some work
activities. Most such employment is believed to involve work on family
farms and in family shops, or as urban street vendors. Some employment
of children also reportedly occurs in small manufacturing enterprises,
such as shoe and textile factories.
The PA's capacity to enforce existing labor laws is limited. It has
only 40 labor inspectors to inspect an estimated 65,000 enterprises.
The International Labor Organization and UNICEF are working with the
PA to study the nature and extent of the problem and to develop the
capacity to enforce and update child labor laws.
The law does not prohibit specifically forced and bonded labor by children,
but there were no reports that it occurred (see Section 6.c.).
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There is no minimum wage in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Prior to the
outbreak of the Intifada in September 2000, which severely disrupted
employment patters for the majority of working Palestinians, the average
wage for full-time workers appeared to provide a worker and family with
a decent standard of living.
In the West Bank, the normal workweek is 48 hours in most areas; in
Gaza the workweek is 45 hours for day laborers and 40 hours for salaried
employees. There is no effective enforcement of maximum workweek laws.
The PA Ministry of Labor is responsible for inspecting workplaces and
enforcing safety standards in the West Bank and Gaza; however, the Ministry's
ability to enforce the standard has always been limited due to lack
of resources for inspections and other constraints. During the year,
the Ministry reported that closures further limited its ability to carry
out inspections. The Ministry of Labor states that new factories and
workplaces meet international health and safety standards but that older
ones fail to meet such standards. There is no specific legal protection
afforded workers that allows them to remove themselves from an unhealthy
or unsafe work setting without risking loss of employment.
Like all Israeli workers, Palestinians who work in Israel are required
to contribute to the National Insurance Institute (NII), which provides
unemployment insurance and other benefits. Palestinians from the West
Bank and Gaza are eligible for some, but not all, NII benefits. According
to the Interim Agreement, Palestinians who work in Israel and Jerusalem
benefit from NII in cases of injuries occurring in Israel, the bankruptcy
of a worker's employer, and allowances for maternity leave.
There are outstanding cases of Palestinian workers who have attempted
to sue their Israeli employers for non-payment of wages but are unable
to travel to the relevant courts because they are unable to receive
the proper permits.
f. Trafficking in Persons
Palestinian law does not prohibit trafficking in persons; however,
there were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within
the occupied territories.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, U.S.
State Department, March 2002