Gaza’s human rights situation at ‘all time low’, report reveals
An Israeli human rights group has concluded that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has “declined to an all time low following Israel’s siege on the area” despite a drop in the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the Occupied Territories during 2007.
B’Tselem’s end of year report revealed that an overall deterioration of the human rights situation had been recorded in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
With the centre situated in the Occupied Territories, its report said that 2007 had also seen an increase of 13 per cent in the number of Palestinians held in administrative detention without trial, which averaged 830.
It also said that “there was little improvement in Palestinians’ freedom of movement” with Israel’s settlement population having grown by 4.5 per cent, compared with a 1.5 per cent growth inside Israel, a “moderate increase than the previous year”.
The report highlighted two main concerns related to the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories.
It accused Israel of “far too often” failing to “balance its security needs with equally important values, including protecting the rights of Palestinians under its control”.
The report also charged the Israeli authorities of “exploit[ing the] security threats in order to advance prohibited political interests, such as perpetuating settlements and effectively annexing them to Israel”.
Its second concern was “the lack of accountability of Israeli security forces, in all matters relating to human rights” including a clear “reluctance of the state to thoroughly investigate violations and to prosecute those responsible for them”.
The report revealed that the number of houses demolished in East Jerusalem rose by 38 per cent, to 69 homes.
Meanwhile Palestinians continued to “face severe discrimination in the allocation of water in the West Bank causing serious hardship in the summer”, the report said.
However it also showed that “the number of Palestinians killed in intra-Palestinian clashes was the highest throughout the intifada”.
It further recorded: “In 2007 (up to 29 December), Israeli security forces killed 373 Palestinians (290 in Gaza, 83 in the West Bank), 53 among them minors… about 35 per cent of those killed were civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities when killed.”
2007 had also seen the lowest number of Israeli civilian casualties since the beginning of the intifada – seven – a drop of 10 since 2006.
In intra-Palestinian fighting, at least 344 persons were killed, almost all in the Gaza Strip in the first six months of the year.
Though 2007 showed a drop in Palestinians killed by Israeli forces compared to the year before, the report maintained that “the figures for 2007 still give cause for concern”.