Israel und die besetzten Gebiete: Abgeschirmt vor einer Untersuchung - Kriegsverbrechen in Dschenin und Nablus / Israel and the Occupied Territories: Shielded from scrutiny - IDF violations in Jenin and Nablus
Ein Bericht von amnesty international / A Report by amnesty international
Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir Ergebnisse aus dem jüngsten Bericht von amnesty international über das Vorgehen der israelischen Armee in der Frühjahrsoffensive gegen Palästinenser in Dschenin und Nablus (Westjordanland). Das umfassende Dossier liegt bislang nur in einer englischen Fassung vor. Amnesty international Deutschland gab am 4. November 2002 aber eine Presseerklärung hierüber heraus, die wir einleitend anstelle einer deutschen Zusammenfassung wiedergeben. Aus dem knapp 80-seitigen Report haben wir die Zusammenfassung und die abschließenden politischen Empfehlungen von ai an Israel und die palästinensische Seite dokumentiert.
Neuer ai-Bericht belegt Kriegsverbrechen der israelischen Armee in palästinensischen Wohnorten im Frühjahr 2002 / amnesty international fordert Untersuchung der Fälle / Die israelische Regierung soll internationale Beobachter zulassen
Berlin/ Jerusalem, 4. November 2002 - Bei ihren Aktionen in den palästinensischen Städten Dschenin und Nablus im März und April 2002 hat die israelische Armee Kriegsverbrechen begangen. Dafür liegen klare Belege vor, sagte amnesty international (ai) heute in Jerusalem anlässlich der Vorstellung ihres neuen Berichts. Der 76 Seiten starke Bericht dokumentiert schwere Menschenrechtsverletzungen des israelischen Militärs wie ungesetzliche Tötungen; Folter und Misshandlungen von Gefangenen; mutwillige Zerstörung hunderter Häuser, deren Bewohner zum Teil die Gebäude noch nicht verlassen hatten; Behinderung von Krankenwagen und Verweigerung humanitärer Hilfe sowie der Missbrauch palästinensischer Zivilisten als 'menschliche Schutzschilde'.
"ai erkennt das Recht Israels an, sich gegen Gewalt zu schützen und gegen Gewalttäter vorzugehen. Dies muss jedoch im Rahmen internationaler Gesetze geschehen", sagte die Nahostreferentin der deutschen Sektion von amnesty international, Ruth Jüttner. "In Nablus und Dschenin wurden die Gesetze schwerwiegend gebrochen, und deswegen muss die israelische Regierung diese Kriegsverbrechen endlich untersuchen lassen und die Täter zur Rechenschaft ziehen."
Mitarbeiter von amnesty international hatten im Mai 2002 Vertretern der israelischen Armee ihre Bedenken über die militärische Vorgehensweise vorgetragen. Im Anschluss daran übermittelte ai der Armee die meisten der Fälle, die in dem neuen Bericht aufgeführt sind, und bat um einen Kommentar. Bis heute hat ai keine Antwort erhalten.
"Alle Versuche, in Israel und den Besetzten Gebieten internationale Beobachter mit einem klaren Menschenrechtsmandat einzusetzen, sind am Widerstand der israelischen Regierung gescheitert. Die internationale Gemeinschaft muss hier Druck ausüben, denn im Nahen Osten ist kein Frieden möglich, solange die Menschenrechte nicht geachtet werden", sagte Ruth Jüttner.
Der Bericht: 'Israel and the Occupied Territories: Shielded from scrutiny: IDF violations in Jenin and Nablus' ist auf folgender Website zu erhalten:
Amnesty International's Conclusions
The following section gives a summary of Amnesty International's findings related to the impact of the IDF operations, in particular Operation Defensive Shield, on the human rights of the Palestinian population and an assessment of Israel's obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law in each case.
The State of Israel has not only a right but also an obligation to protect the lives of its citizens and those under its protection, but measures taken must be in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law. Human rights abuses by armed groups can never justify violations of fundamental human rights by governments. The information in this report suggests that the IDF committed violations of international law during the course of military operations in Jenin and Nablus, including war crimes, for which they must be held accountable.
Amnesty International has documented cases in Jenin and Nablus where people were killed or injured in circumstances suggesting that they were unlawfully and deliberately targeted, or were killed as a result of disproportionate use of force or gross negligence in protecting those not or no longer involved in the fighting.
In several cases the IDF caused the deaths of Palestinians by demolishing homes while residents were still inside. IDF soldiers frequently failed to give adequate warnings before demolishing houses, refused to allow family and neighbours to warn residents, failed to offer help themselves or to call rescue units or ambulances and sometimes shot at those who tried to help. The failure to properly investigate killings in disputed circumstances and those clearly unlawful have created a climate where members of the IDF believe that they may carry out such violations of the right to life with impunity.
Unlawful killings violate the "right to life" laid down in Article 6 of the ICCPR. Amnesty International considers that some of these abuses of the right to life would amount to "wilful killings" and "wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health" within the meaning of Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention dealing with grave breaches of the Convention; "grave breaches" of the Geneva Convention are war crimes.
Failure to ensure medical or humanitarian relief
In both Jenin and Nablus, the IDF denied medical and humanitarian relief organizations access to the affected areas – including Jenin refugee camp and the old city of Nablus – even after it was reported that the fighting had ceased. Medical relief services had no access to Jenin refugee camp for nearly 11 days, from 4-15 April 2002. From 9 April until 14 April there were up to five ICRC ambulances and doctors and about six Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulances waiting to be allowed to enter the camp. In the Nablus area no ambulances were allowed to move between 3 and 8 April and medical services were severely restricted until 19 April. Meanwhile Palestinians died without receiving medical attention and bodies remained decomposing where they were killed for days.
On 12 April 2002 the Israeli organization HaMoked, the Centre for the Defence of the Individual, petitioned the High Court to know why the Minister of Defence did not send the special rescue unit to "search for and locate all persons buried alive under the ruins in the Jenin refugee camp and rescue them." In its judgment the court stated that "Law and morality both justify the entry of the rescue unit". However the petition was rejected by the court after the Counsel for the Ministry of Defence said that "the unit will attempt to locate people". Amnesty International has received no information which would indicate that after the 14 April judgment the IDF rescue unit entered into Jenin refugee camp.
Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, States are obliged to respect and protect the wounded (Article 16), to allow the removal from besieged areas of the wounded or sick, and the passage of medical personnel to such areas (Article 17), and for the distribution of medical and humanitarian supplies to besieged areas (Article 55). The obstruction and targeting of medical personnel contravene the prohibition against "willfully" causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health" under Article 147 and as such are a grave breach of the Convention and are therefore war crimes.
Demolition of houses and property
According to UNRWA, 2,629 Palestinian homes, housing 13,145 refugees, sustained serious damage during the period 29 March-23 April 2002. These figures do not include the scores of destroyed or damaged homes of Palestinians who were not registered as refugees with UNRWA during this period, nor the homes demolished later in the year. Amnesty International delegates, including a military adviser, witnessed the effects of the demolition of Palestinian homes, especially in Jenin, in the vast majority of cases without apparent military necessity. IDF forces who entered Jenin and Nablus brought tanks or bulldozers through narrow roads stripping off the fronts of houses; sometimes the house front was stripped off even in wider roads. In Hawashin and neighbouring areas of Jenin refugee camp 169 houses with 374 apartment units, were bulldozed mostly after the fighting had ceased. Amnesty International delegates who witnessed the devastated site on 17 April, when the IDF blockade of the town was at last lifted came to the conclusion that there was no absolute military necessity in this destruction.
In both Jenin and in Nablus, there were instances when the IDF bulldozed houses while residents were still inside. The IDF either gave inadequate warnings or no warnings before houses were demolished, and subsequently not only failed to take measures to rescue those trapped in the rubble but even prevented others from searching for them. Amnesty International documented three incidents leading to the deaths of 10 people between the ages of four and 85; six others on the hospital lists of those killed in Jenin are recorded as a result of being crushed by rubble.
During military operations, commercial, religious, cultural, and civic buildings, were also destroyed without absolute military necessity. Nablus suffered particularly severely from such destruction not only of its commercial buildings but also of religious and cultural buildings dating back several centuries.
Amnesty International has also documented incidents where personal property inside apartments or homes occupied by the IDF was intentionally damaged and sometimes looted. In September the Israeli Government announced that it had prosecuted 18 soldiers for looting. The numerous incidents of vandalism and looting by a number of IDF units in various towns raises concern that some of these actions, which violate international humanitarian law, may have been sanctioned or condoned by the Israeli authorities or IDF commanders.
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits collective punishment, such as the demolition of houses, stating that: "No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited." This same article also prohibits pillage and reprisals against protected persons and their property. Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that: "Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations." In November 2001 the Committee against Torture, in its conclusions after its review of Israel's report, stated that Israel's policy of closures and its demolitions of Palestinian homes "may, in certain instances, amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" in breach of Article 16 of the United Nations Convention against Torture.
Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention lists "extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly" as a grave breach of the Convention. It is therefore a war crime.
Cutting water and electricity supplies
In Jenin the electricity supply was cut in the city on 3 April; in the lower refugee camp even a partial electricity supply was not restored until 25 April. The Jenin municipality claimed that main feeders had been targeted and repair crews subjected to gunfire. Water was also cut and many storage tanks on houses were damaged by IDF fire. Camp residents and those living in the upper areas remained without water for up to three weeks; UNRWA reports that water points to the camp were not restored until 28 April. In Nablus water and electricity were also cut from 3 April.
The cutting of water and electricity supplies constitutes collective punishment prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in arbitrary detention
In the towns and refugee camps occupied by the Israeli army the IDF ill-treated and sometimes reportedly tortured Palestinians detained in mass roundups of males aged 15-55. Amnesty International interviewed many Palestinians from Jenin who had been released from detention while they were still in Rumaneh, a village near Jenin, prevented from returning to their homes. Amnesty International delegates also interviewed former Palestinian detainees arrested during Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin and Nablus, who described the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to which they had routinely been subjected. Most were humiliated and many were insulted. Many described treatment amounting to torture, mostly in the form of random beatings with rifle butts.
Article 7 of the ICCPR prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; this article is non-derogable. Israel has also ratified the Convention against Torture which states that "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture" (Article 2(b)) and requires investigations into every allegation of torture or ill-treatment (Article 12).
Under Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention "torture or inhuman treatment… unlawful confinement of a protected person," and "wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention" are all grave breaches of the Convention and therefore war crimes.
The use of Palestinians for military operations or as "human shields"
In both Jenin and Nablus, as many testimonies show, there was a pattern of forcing Palestinians to participate in military operations or to act as "human shields". Women as well as men were used in this way.
The use of Palestinians as "human shields" and to conduct military operations was the subject of a petition in the Israeli High Court in May 2002. Seven human rights organizations submitted a petition seeking to prevent the IDF from using Palestinian civilians as "human shields". The State response was to indicate that the army had issued a ban on all forces from using "human shields" (although it did not admit or deny that such a practice, known by the IDF as the "neighbour procedure", was employed) and that it was to begin an internal investigation on the issues raised in the petition. In light of the State response, the Court decided not to issue an injunction but requested that the State submit a written copy of its orders.(27) This had not yet been done. Meanwhile, the practice of compelling Palestinians to act as a "human shield" in military operations has continued. In August a Palestinian used as a "human shield" by the IDF was killed in crossfire and the High Court of Justice issued an interim injunction against this procedure; nevertheless, it still continues.(28)
Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the Occupying Power from compelling protected persons to assist in military operations. Article 28 prohibits the use of protected persons as "human shields". Article 147 lists "wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health" as a "grave breach". It is therefore also a war crime.
Keeping the world away: the failure of international action
The Israeli State has the primary obligation to respect articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In addition, under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention all states which are High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions have an obligation to "respect and ensure respect" of the Convention.
The international community, governments, organizations and individuals, have taken a keen interest in the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The relationship of the conflict to the deteriorating human rights situation has led to a growing understanding that there can be no peace or security for the region until human rights are respected. The failure to bring change has not been through a failure of awareness or even of will of most members of the international community. In the United Nations, the European Union, the League of Arab States and in other intergovernmental organizations, statements have been made and resolutions passed. Delegations have been sent to the area and peace plans projected. But all attempts to end human rights violations and install a system of international protection in Israel and the Occupied Territories, in particular by introducing monitors with a clear human rights mandate, have been undermined by the refusal of the government of Israel, frequently supported by the United States, which as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is able to exercise its support for Israel by vetoing a Security Council resolution.
During April 2002, as Operation Defensive Shield continued, concern swiftly mounted on what was happening in areas the IDF had closed to the outside world, such as Jenin and Nablus. There was unprecedented international pressure on the Israeli government, including debates leading to resolutions and action in national parliaments throughout the world, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; in United Nations bodies, including the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights as well as scores of diplomatic interventions and visits of governmental and parliamentary delegations to Israel.
However, the willingness of the international community under the auspices of the United Nations to act to ensure protection of human rights, including the human rights of Israeli civilians targeted by Palestinian armed groups, were consistently blocked by the Israeli government.
Only two days after the invasion of Jenin and Nablus, the UN Commission on Human Rights, meeting in Geneva on 5 April, requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to head a visiting mission to travel immediately and return expeditiously to submit its findings and recommendations to the current session of the Commission. The mission was set up on 8 April. However, on 19 April the Israeli Foreign Ministry informed the mission that the Israeli Government would not facilitate their visit. At the request of the Commission on Human Rights the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report on 24 April 2002 calling for full applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention, for both sides to end the violence and for accountability on all sides:
"Failure to investigate widespread allegations of serious human rights violations and to seek accountability risks undermining the integrity of the human rights system."(29)
The European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and Josep Pique, Foreign Minister of Spain, holding the European Union's Presidency at the time, visited Israel on 4 April. They were not allowed to meet President Arafat. On 10 April the European Parliament called for the immediate suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. At the Euro-Mediterranean ministerial summit in Valencia on 22-24 April the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories dominated the agenda; Javier Solana again visited Israel and the Occupied Territories on 25 April holding meetings with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and, after some difficulty, was allowed to meet President Yasser Arafat, then confined to his headquarters in Ramallah.
The UN Security Council under Resolutions 1397 and 1402 in March and Resolution 1403 in April, expressed concern at the deterioration of the situation and called for a meaningful ceasefire. On 10 April the "Quartet", made up of representatives of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, issued a public statement urging Israel to implement Resolutions 1402 and 1403. US Secretary of State Colin Powell spent six days in Israel, from 11 to 17 April, in an attempt at mediation.
As a result of increasing disquiet over the situation in Jenin and the devastation of demolished houses which greeted the first observers from the international community able to enter Jenin refugee camp after 15 April, the UN responded to calls for an international investigation which came from many groups, including Amnesty International. An agreement to send a fact-finding team to "develop accurate information" regarding events in Jenin was agreed between the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and welcomed by a unanimous vote in Security Council resolution 1405 (2002) of 19 April 2002. The resolution also stressed the need for all to ensure the safety of civilians and to respect universally accepted norms of international humanitarian law. The Fact-finding team was composed of three eminent independent experts, (Martti Ahtisaari, former Prime Minister of Finland, Sadako Ogata, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Cornelio Sommaruga, former President of the ICRC), and included military, police, legal, and medical advisers, including forensic expertise. After initially agreeing to the UN Fact-finding team, the Israeli Government raised a series of objections relating to the membership and mandate of the team. The Israeli Government then withdrew its cooperation and blocked its access to Israel. The team was disbanded by the UN Secretary General on 3 May.
On 7 May 2002, the UN General Assembly requested the UN Secretary-General "to present a report, drawing on the available resources and information, on the recent events that took place in Jenin and other Palestinian cities".(30) This report was written without a visit to Jenin or other Palestinian cities. It was based solely on submissions from member states, observer missions and non- governmental organizations, as well as documents already in the public domain. Israel did not respond to a request by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs to provide information for the report. The report, made public in July 2002, reaffirms Israel's obligations under the Geneva Conventions - and the Palestinian Authority's obligation under customary international law - to respect human rights. Factually, many of its conclusions are in line with those of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. The report raises Israel's imposition of round the clock curfews, "restrictions on and sometimes completely barring, the movement of international personnel, including at times humanitarian and medical personnel" and stresses the "severe hardships" suffered by the civilian population (Para. 24). The report mentions numerous reports of the IDF use of Palestinians to accompany them on house searches, detentions and ill-treatment of Palestinians, vandalism by the IDF and "the widespread destruction of Palestinian and private property". It also states accusations that Palestinian armed groups breached international humanitarian law by basing themselves in a densely populated area and by the use of children to transport and possibly lay booby traps.
The Secretary General's report on events in Jenin and other Palestinian cities can not be a substitute for a full, independent, impartial and thorough investigation or inquiry. Amnesty International is conscious that there is still an overriding need for such an investigation of the events of Operation Defensive Shield. A full international Commission of Inquiry with access to testimonies from individuals and records of both sides could thoroughly investigate each killing, using forensic, legal and military expertise, to determine whether the killing was lawful or unlawful; it could investigate the circumstances of the demolition and damage of each Palestinian home and building to determine the "absolute military necessity" of its demolition; it could fully investigate the treatment of Palestinian detainees after arrest; the extent of the use of "human shields" and the facts about the denial of medical and humanitarian aid. It could also fully examine alleged breaches of international humanitarian law by Palestinian armed groups, and by the Palestinian Authority during Operation Defensive Shield. A Commission of Inquiry could make clear recommendations with the force of its investigations behind them.
War crimes and crimes against humanity are among the most serious crimes under international law, and represent offences against humanity as a whole and are prohibited in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The international community cannot therefore remain as ineffective witnesses of the grave violations which continue to take place in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
These recommendations relate to the human rights violations in Jenin and Nablus alone. Other Amnesty International reports contain recommendations of general application.
Amnesty International calls on the Government of Israel:
to ensure that IDF operations are conducted in full respect of international human rights and humanitarian law;
- to initiate a full, thorough, transparent and impartial investigation into all allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including those documented in this report, and to make the results public;
- to cooperate with United Nations investigations;
- to bring to justice those alleged to have committed serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law in proceedings that meet international standards for fair trial;
- to ensure prompt and adequate reparation for victims of serious human rights or humanitarian law violations;
- to respect and protect the human rights of all persons living in the Occupied Territories without discrimination;
- to include the practices of Israeli authorities in the Occupied Territories in all reporting to UN human rights treaty bodies;
- to take immediate action to prevent the IDF from compelling Palestinians to take part in military operations or to act as "human shields" and to take measures against any soldier or military commander who undertakes or sanctions such practices;
- to fulfill its international legal obligations by ensuring that medical staff and ambulances are allowed to carry out duties without undue delays, and with safe passage;
- to ensure safe access for humanitarian and medical supplies;
- to immediately stop the use of lethal force to enforce curfews;
- to end collective punishments including house destruction, closures and curfews, cutting of water and electricity;
- to end torture or other ill-treatment of those in custody;
- to end administrative detention and release all administrative detainees unless they are to be brought to trial for a recognizably criminal offence in a trial which is in accordance with UN fair trial standards;
- to accept an international monitoring presence in Israel's Occupied Territories with a strong human rights component.
On the Palestinian Authority:
to take all action possible to prevent anyone under its jurisdiction from attacking or otherwise endangering the safety of civilians.
On the Palestinian armed groups:
to respect fundamental principles of international law which prohibit the killing of civilians;
- to end any use of children in any armed operations.
On the international community:
The international community has an obligation under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to "respect and ensure respect for" the Convention. Despite the information that has been provided by Amnesty International and other international human rights and humanitarian organizations, which clearly documents violations of the Convention, including grave breaches under Article 147, these abuses continue with impunity. Amnesty International calls on the international community and, in particular, the United States government:
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to immediately stop the sale or transfer of weaponry that are used to commit human rights violations to Israeli forces until such time as guarantees can be secured that equipment will not be used to commit violations of international human rights or humanitarian law;
- to ensure that Israels human rights and humanitarian law obligations, most specifically its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention, are met;
- to ensure that human rights are central to all negotiations, interim accords and any final agreement;
- to bring to justice anyone suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or torture who may be within their jurisdiction;
- to take steps to set up an international monitoring presence in Israel's Occupied Territories with a human rights component.