UN report on Israel's attack of Palestinian town of Jenin- Part 1
Palestine-Israel, Politics, 8/2/2002
Here is the full report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to UN General Assembly resolution ES-10/10, regarding the Israeli attack on the Palestinian town of Jenin.
This report was prepared on the basis of General Assembly resolution ES-10/10, adopted on 7 May 2002, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to present a report, drawing upon the available resources and information, on the recent events that took place in Jenin and other Palestinian cities. The General Assembly requested the report following the disbandment of the United Nations fact-finding team that had been convened by the Secretary-General in response to Security Council resolution 1405 (2002) (2002) of 19 April 2002.
The report was written without a visit to Jenin or the other Palestinian cities in question and it therefore relies completely on available resources and information, including submissions from five United Nations Member States and Observer Missions, documents in the public domain and papers submitted by non-governmental organizations. The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs wrote to the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations requesting them to submit information but only the latter did so. In the absence of a response from Israel, the United Nations has relied on public statements of Israeli officials and publicly available documents of the Government of Israel relevant to the request in resolution ES-10/10.
This report covers the period from approximately the beginning of March to 7 May 2002. The report sets out the context and background of the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the security, humanitarian and human rights responsibilities of both parties. It briefly charts the rising violence since September 2000, which had by 7 May 2002 caused the deaths of 441 Israelis and 1,539 Palestinians.
The report describes the pattern of attacks carried out by Palestinian armed groups against Israel operating from the West Bank and Israel's military action during Operation Defensive Shield, which began on 29 March with an incursion into Ramallah, followed by entry into Tulkarm and Qalqilya on 1 April, Bethlehem on 2 April, and Jenin and Nablus on 3 April. By 3 April, six of the largest cities in the West Bank, and their surrounding towns, villages and refugee camps, had been occupied by the Israeli military. Operation Defensive Shield was characterized by extensive curfews on civilian populations and restrictions, indeed occasional prohibitions, on the movement of international personnel, including at times humanitarian and medical personnel as well as human rights monitors and journalists. In many instances, humanitarian workers were not able to reach people in need. Combatants on both sides conducted themselves in ways that, at times, placed civilians in harm's way. Much of the fighting during Operation Defensive Shield occurred in areas heavily populated by civilians and in many cases heavy weaponry was used. As a result of those practices, the populations of the cities covered in this report suffered severe hardships. The Israeli Defence Forces announced the official end of the operation on 21 April but its consequences lasted until the end of the period under review and beyond.
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to resolution ES-10/10 adopted on 7 May 2002 by the General Assembly at its tenth emergency special session. In paragraph 6 of the resolution the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to present a report, drawing upon the available resources and information, on the recent events that took place in Jenin and other Palestinian cities.
II. Security Council resolution 1405 (2002)
2. On 19 April 2002, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1405 (2002), in which it welcomed my initiative to develop accurate information regarding recent events in the Jenin refugee camp through a fact-finding team. This resolution was tabled in the Council by the delegation of the United States of America following telephone conversations that I had with Israel's Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers at their initiative, during which I was assured that Israel would cooperate fully with the team that I would designate.
3. Pursuant to resolution 1405 (2002), on 22 April 2002, I established a fact-finding team composed of Martti Ahtisaari, Sadako Ogata and Cornelio Sommaruga. Headed by Mr. Ahtisaari, the team's members also included four senior advisers: Major General (ret.) William Nash, as Military Adviser; Deputy Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald, as Police Adviser; Ambassador Tyge Lehmann, as Legal Adviser; and Helena Ranta, as Medical/Legal Adviser. In addition, the team was provided with technical expertise in military, security and counter-terrorism issues, as well as forensic science and general support staff. The team gathered at Geneva and began to prepare a work plan based on three elements: (a) events in Jenin in the period immediately prior to Israel's military operation; (b) the battle in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield; and (c) efforts by humanitarian workers to gain access to the civilian population in Jenin after the end of hostilities.
4. After the appointment of the members of the team, the Government of Israel raised a number of concerns regarding the work of the team that made its timely deployment impossible and led me to disband the team. On 1 May 2002 I sent a letter to the President of the Security Council (S/2002/504) describing my efforts to implement resolution 1405 (2002), which read, in part:
(a) I instructed that the team should gather in Geneva on 24 April and proceed to the area on 25 April. However, soon after I announced my plan to deploy the team, the Government of Israel began to express concerns related to the composition of the team, the scope of its mandate, how this mandate would be carried out and various procedural matters. At the request of the Government of Israel, I agreed that the Secretariat would meet with a delegation from Israel and listen to Israel's concerns and engage in a clarificatory process. I set back the arrival of the team in the area to 27 April.
(b) The discussions with the Israeli delegation were held in a very constructive atmosphere on 25 and 26 April. By the time the Israeli delegation was able to report back on the results of those meetings, the Sabbath had begun in Israel. The Foreign Minister of Israel informed me that the Israeli Cabinet would address the issue at its scheduled meeting on 28 April and requested that the team delay its arrival for another day. I acceded to this request and the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefed the Security Council accordingly.
(c) On 27 April, I spoke on the telephone with the Prime Minister of Israel, after which I dispatched letters to the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine setting out the parameters of work of the team. These letters were circulated to Security Council members on the same day. The Permanent Representative of Israel sent me a reply late on 27 April, in which he put forward several concerns on the part of his Government. The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs responded orally to the Permanent Representative of Israel.
(d) On 28 April, the Israeli Cabinet did not reach a decision on the fact-finding team; I was informed by Israel that the matter would be reviewed by the Cabinet at a meeting the following day. The Secretariat briefed the Security Council on the information I had received on 28 April, and the Council agreed that the President of the Council would express its continuing support for my efforts to implement resolution 1405 (2002).
(e) The Israeli Cabinet did not meet on 29 April. Instead, I was informed by the Permanent Representative of Israel that the Cabinet had scheduled a meeting for early on 30 April. The Secretariat briefed the Security Council accordingly.
(f) Israel's Ministerial Committee on National Security (the Security Cabinet) met early on 30 April, after which it issued the following statement: "Israel has raised essential issues before the United Nations for a fair examination. As long as these terms have not been met, it will not be possible for the clarification process to begin." In the absence of a formal indication of the terms on which the Government of Israel would cooperate with the fact-finding team, this statement was reviewed against the backdrop of various public statements by, and telephone conversations that I held with, senior Israeli officials. I was drawn reluctantly to the conclusion that, while continuing to express its concerns to the United Nations mainly in the form of procedural issues, Israel had developed concerns about Security Council resolution 1405 (2002) that were fundamental in nature.
(g) Throughout this process, the United Nations has made every effort to accommodate the concerns of the Government of Israel within the mandate given to me by the Security Council. It was made quite clear that the team was tasked specifically to develop information about the recent events in Jenin and that the facts established would be used solely for its report to me. In my view, the team would have conducted its assignment in the field in a professional and fair manner and produced an accurate, thorough, balanced and credible report.
(h) Clearly the full cooperation of both sides was a precondition for this, as was a visit to the area itself to see the Jenin refugee camp at first hand and to gather information. This is why the Secretariat engaged in a thorough clarification process with the Israeli delegation.
(i) In the light of yesterday's announcement by the Government of Israel, it seems evident that the team will not be able to proceed to the area and begin its mission in the near future. While I have not received any further written communication from the Israeli Government since 27 April, in my telephone conversations over the past two days, high-level Israeli officials have broached issues additional to those raised by the delegation that came to New York last week and there have been indications that this list may not be exhaustive.
(j) As the Secretariat noted in its briefings to the Council, time is also a critical factor. With the situation in the Jenin refugee camp changing by the day, it will become more and more difficult to establish with any confidence or accuracy the "recent events" that took place there.
(k) For these reasons, it is my intention to disband the fact-finding team tomorrow. I regret being unable to provide the information requested by the Council in resolution 1405 (2002), and especially that the long shadow cast by recent events in the Jenin refugee camp will remain in the absence of such a fact-finding exercise.
5. On 3 May 2002 I disbanded the team. In writing to the President of the Security Council to inform him of this, I expressed my deep appreciation to President Ahtisaari, Mrs. Ogata, Mr. Sommaruga and all the members of the team for their efforts to support my actions intended to implement resolution 1405 (2002). I stated that I had every confidence that the team would have conducted itself in a professional and fair manner in producing the report requested by the Council.
III. Report prepared pursuant to paragraph 6 of resolution ES-10/10
6. In order to comply with the General Assembly's request in resolution ES-10/10, on 14 May 2002, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs addressed letters to the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, requesting them to submit information relevant to the implementation of that resolution. In addition, on 14 May 2002, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs addressed a note verbale to all other Member States and Observer Missions requesting the submission of relevant information. On 3 June 2002, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs addressed another note verbale to Member States and Observer Missions extending the deadline for submissions to 14 June 2002.
7. On 3 June 2002, in response to the letter of the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the Permanent Observer of Palestine submitted materials regarding recent events in Jenin and other Palestinian cities (see annex I). In addition, five Member States and Observer Missions have submitted information, responding to the note verbale of 14 May (see annexes II-IV). As at the date of submission of this report, the Government of Israel has not responded to the information request. In the absence of a response from Israel, the United Nations has relied on public statements of Israeli officials and other publicly available documents of the Government of Israel relevant to the request in resolution ES-10/10.
8. This report covers the period from approximately the beginning of March to 7 May 2002. In keeping with the request of the General Assembly, the substantive portion of the report is based on sources of information available to the United Nations, including those in the public domain and submitted by non-governmental organizations. The report begins by setting out the context and background, before describing recent events.
B. Security, humanitarian and human rights responsibilities
9. Subsequent to the signing on 13 September 1993 of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a further agreement that, inter alia, specified the security-related responsibilities of the two sides. The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip signed on 28 September 1995 by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization details the mechanisms for the extension of Palestinian self-rule to portions of the West Bank. The main feature of the Agreement was the provision for the division of the West Bank into three areas, each with varying degrees of Israeli and Palestinian responsibility. Area A consisted of the seven major Palestinian towns - Jenin, Qalqilya, Tulkarm, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho and Hebron - in which Palestinians would have complete responsibility for civilian security. In area B, which comprised all other Palestinian population centres (except for some refugee camps), Israel would retain "overriding security responsibility". In area C, which includes all settlements, military bases and areas, and State lands, Israel would retain sole security responsibility. Area A comprises approximately 10 per cent of the territory of the West Bank.
10. The Interim Agreement also provides that "Israel shall have the overall responsibility for security for the purpose of protecting Israelis and confronting the threat of terrorism". It states that "both sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other, against individuals falling under the other's authority and against their property, and shall take legal measures against offenders".
11. Israel's obligations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are set out in the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to which Israel is a High Contracting Party. Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territory are "protected persons" under the Convention, which provides that they may not be wilfully killed, tortured, taken as hostages or suffer humiliating or degrading treatment. Israel has obligations not to engage in acts of collective punishment or reprisals and is to refrain from appropriating or extensively destroying the property of protected persons unless such destruction is "rendered absolutely necessary by military operations".
12. The Government of the State of Israel has not, as at the submission of this report, accepted the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to all Territory occupied since 1967. Israel has stated that it has undertaken to comply with the humanitarian provisions of the Convention in its administration of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. All other High Contracting Parties, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross, maintain that the Convention does apply de jure to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
13. The Palestinian Authority is obligated under international customary law to respect human rights, including to refrain from carrying out attacks against civilians, and is required to prevent groups within its territory from engaging in such attacks. Thus, the Palestinian Authority has the responsibility to protect Israeli civilians from attacks, including suicide bombings, emanating from areas under its security control. Those Palestinian groups that have carried out attacks against civilians have also violated the basic international legal principle of the inviolability of civilian life and property. Acts of terror that take life violate the right to life set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition, those groups, and other armed personnel, are prohibited under international humanitarian law from establishing military bases in densely populated civilian areas.
C. Rising violence
14. Since the outbreak of crisis in September 2000, the origins of which have been comprehensively set out in the report of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee headed by former Senator George Mitchell, there has been sustained violence between the parties, fluctuating in intensity, causing by 7 May 2002 the deaths of 441 Israelis and 1,539 Palestinians. By the beginning of 2002, the parties were already locked in an accelerating cycle of violent attacks. This cycle of violence further increased in intensity through the early months of this year. The violence reached a high point in the months of March and April, which saw suicide bomb attacks against Israelis by Palestinian groups increase in frequency, and two waves of incursions by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) into Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank, including areas under the administrative and security responsibility of the Palestinian Authority.
15. On 12 March 2002, after a series of terrorist attacks carried out by Palestinians earlier in that month, and as the first wave of IDF incursions into the West Bank was coming to a close, I told the Security Council in a briefing that I believed that Israeli-Palestinian tensions were at boiling point and that the situation was the worst in 10 years. I called on Palestinians to stop all acts of terrorism and all suicide bombings, stating that such attacks were morally repugnant and caused harm to their cause. I called on Israelis to stop the bombing of civilian areas, the extrajudicial killings, the demolitions, and the daily humiliation of ordinary Palestinians. I asserted that such actions gravely eroded Israel's international standing and fuelled the fires of hatred, despair and extremism among Palestinians. Finally, I urged the political leaders of both peoples - Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat - to lead their peoples away from disaster.
16. Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis continued, followed by Israeli military incursions into Palestinian areas. On 4 April, one week into the second wave of incursions in the West Bank - the Israeli Defence Forces' Operation Defensive Shield - I again briefed the Security Council and called on all members of the international community to consider urgently how best to intercede with the parties to persuade them to draw back from their present course. I told the Council that self-defence was not a blank cheque, and that responding to terrorism did not in any way free Israel from its obligations under international law, nor did it justify creating a human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Equally, the Palestinian Authority seemed to believe that failing to act against terrorism, and inducing turmoil, chaos and instability, would cause the Government and people of Israel to buckle - which I believed they would not. I called on the Government of Israel to comply with Security Council resolution 1402 (2002) and withdraw its forces from the Palestinian territory it had occupied during Operation Defensive Shield. I urged Chairman Arafat to exercise political leadership and set the course for the future of his people.
17. On more than one occasion during this very difficult period, I expressed to the Security Council my view that, despite the fact that bitterness and despair were at an all-time high on both sides, we all needed to cling to the conviction that, in the end, however long it would take, there would one day have to be a peaceful settlement of this conflict. While the road back to the negotiating table would not be easy or smooth, both sides, with the help of the international community, must restart a process based on Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1402 (2002) which, taken together, provide the vision for a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the immediate security and political steps needed to move beyond the present crisis.
18. From the beginning of March until 7 May, Israel endured approximately 16 bombings, the large majority of which were suicide attacks. More than 100 persons were killed and scores more wounded. Throughout this period, the Government of Israel, and the international community, reiterated previous calls on the Palestinian Authority to take steps to stop terrorist attacks and to arrest the perpetrators of such attacks.
19. During this same period, IDF conducted two waves of military incursions primarily in the West Bank, and air strikes against both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The first wave began on 27 February 2002 and ended on approximately 14 March. Those incursions, which Israel stated were in pursuit of Palestinians who had carried out attacks against Israelis, involved the use of ground troops, attack helicopters, tanks and F-16 fighter jets in civilian areas, including refugee camps, causing significant loss of life among civilians.
20. Over the course of two days, 8 and 9 March, 18 Israelis were killed in two separate Palestinian attacks and 48 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli raids that followed.
21. Israeli military retaliation for terrorist attacks was often carried out against Palestinian Authority security forces and installations. This had the effect of severely weakening the Authority's capacity to take effective action against militant groups that launched attacks on Israelis. Militant groups stepped into this growing vacuum and increased their attacks on Israeli civilians. In many cases, the perpetrators of these attacks left messages to the effect that their acts were explicitly in revenge for earlier Israeli acts of retaliation, thus perpetuating and intensifying the cycle of violence, retaliation and revenge.
22. It was against this backdrop that the most extensive Israeli military incursions in a decade, Operation Defensive Shield, were carried out. The proximate cause of the operation was a terrorist attack committed on 27 March in the Israeli city of Netanya, in which 28 people were killed and 140 injured. I condemned the terrorist attack from the Beirut Summit of the League of Arab States as morally repugnant and later described it to the Security Council as a blow against the very possibility of coexistence. On 29 March 2002, the Cabinet of the Government of Israel issued a communiqu? approving "a wide-ranging operational action plan against Palestinian terror" and, to that end, "the mobilization of reserves as per operational need". The objective was to "defeat the Palestinian terror infrastructure and to prevent the recurrence of the multiple terrorist attacks which have plagued Israel".
D. Operation Defensive Shield
23. Operation Defensive Shield began on 29 March with an incursion into Ramallah, during which IDF seized most of the buildings in the headquarters compound of Chairman Arafat. Operations followed in Tulkarm and Qalqilya on 1 April, Bethlehem on 2 April, and in Jenin and Nablus on 3 April. By 3 April, six of the largest cities in the West Bank, and their surrounding towns, villages and refugee camps, were occupied by the Israeli military. The Israeli Defence Forces announced the official end of the operation on 21 April as they completed their withdrawal from Nablus and parts of Ramallah, while continuing negotiations to lift the siege at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The IDF withdrawals from Palestinian cities were, in general, not to pre-29 March positions, but rather to positions encircling the cities. Since then, the Israeli Defence Forces have made additional incursions into many of the Palestinian towns and cities from which they had withdrawn at the conclusion of Operation Defensive Shield, and as this report was being prepared had re-entered many Palestinian towns.
24. A few generally applicable observations can be made about the incursions during Operation Defensive Shield. In each incursion, Israeli troops, tanks and armoured personnel carriers entered the cities and IDF imposed curfews on their civilian populations. In each case, the incursions were accompanied by the entry of IDF into nearby villages and refugee camps. The Israeli Defence Forces declared the cities they had entered "special closed military areas", imposing restrictions on, and at times completely barring, the movement of international personnel, including at times humanitarian and medical personnel as well as human rights monitors and journalists. As a result of these restrictions on movement, including the round-the-clock curfews that lasted with periodic liftings throughout the incursions, the civilian populations of the cities suffered severe hardships, compounded in some places by the extensive fighting that occurred during the operation. As was the case with the first wave of incursions from 27 February to 14 March described above, during Operation Defensive Shield, in many instances, IDF made use of heavy weaponry in Palestinian civilian areas.
25. In each of these incursions, the Israeli Defence Forces arrested Palestinians who they believed were involved in armed actions against Israel, including suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. IDF also, in most of these incursions, destroyed infrastructure they believed to be part of the operating capacity of militant groups, as well as the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority security services. In addition, widespread damage was caused to the civilian capacity of the Palestinian Authority and to private property.
26. It was not only the Palestinian people whose movement was restricted during Operation Defensive Shield. In many instances, humanitarian workers were not able to reach people in need to assess conditions and deliver necessary assistance because of the sealing of cities, refugee camps and villages during the operation. There were also cases of Israeli forces not respecting the neutrality of medical and humanitarian workers and attacking ambulances.
27. The Government of Israel has asserted that ambulances were used to transport Palestinian combatants and weapons; and that the Israeli Defence Forces have in many instances acted to prevent that misuse. It has also stated that IDF policy is to allow free passage in cases of humanitarian need, and that Israeli forces continuously provided food and medical assistance to the Palestinian population.
28. As a result of the severe restrictions on movement, human rights workers and journalists were unable to observe the conduct of the parties and provide independent reporting on that conduct. Some journalists reported being fired at by members of IDF.
29. There were numerous reports of IDF compelling Palestinian civilians to accompany them during house searches, check suspicious subjects, stand in the line of fire from militants and in other ways protect soldiers from danger. Witnesses claim that this was done in the Jenin camp and other Palestinian cities. While IDF soldiers have acknowledged in press reports that they forced Palestinians to knock on doors for house searches, they deny the deliberate use of civilians as human shields. The Government of Israel has denied that its military personnel systematically engage in this practice. In response to a petition filed on 5 May by five Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights organizations, the State Attorney's Office of the Government of Israel informed the High Court of Justice of Israel that "in light of the various complaints received É and so as to avoid all doubt, the [IDF] has decided to immediately issue an unequivocal order É that forces in the field are absolutely forbidden to use civilians as a means of 'living shield'".
30. According to local human rights groups, more than 8,500 Palestinians were arrested between 27 February and 20 May. Reportedly, most of the 2,500 Palestinians arrested during the first wave of incursions in February and March were released within a week, whereas many of the more than 6,000 Palestinians arrested during Operation Defensive Shield after 29 March were held for longer periods without any outside contact. On 5 April, the Commander of the Israeli Defence Forces in the West Bank issued Military Order 1500, which gave soldiers the authority to hold detainees for a period of up to 18 days without access to a lawyer, family members or judicial review. This type of detention can be extended by a military judge for up to 90 days. The order was retroactive to 29 March and was valid for 60 days. By 6 May an alleged 7,000 Palestinians had been arrested under Operation Defensive Shield, of whom 1,500 were still in detention. In many instances during the operation, IDF followed a pattern of using loudspeakers to summon males between 15 and 45. According to human rights reports, significant numbers of the men arrested were blindfolded and handcuffed, not allowed to use a lavatory, and deprived of food or blankets during their first day in detention.
31. In addition to Military Order 1500, the Government of Israel has access to a procedure of administrative detention under which detainees can be held without charge or trial, and which can be renewed indefinitely. The Israeli Defence Forces and the State Attorney have told Amnesty International that from 450 to 990 people were in administrative detention as of May 2002.
32. Of particular concern is the use, by combatants on both sides, of violence that placed civilians in harm's way. Much of the fighting during Operation Defensive Shield occurred in areas heavily populated by civilians, in large part because the armed Palestinian groups sought by IDF placed their combatants and installations among civilians. Palestinian groups are alleged to have widely booby-trapped civilian homes, acts targeted at IDF personnel but also putting civilians in danger. IDF is reported to have used bulldozers, tank shelling and rocket firing, at times from helicopters, in populated areas.
33. Operation Defensive Shield resulted in the widespread destruction of Palestinian private and public property. Nablus was especially hard hit, especially in its old city, which contained many buildings of cultural, religious and historic significance. Much of the destruction appears to have occurred in the fighting as a result of the use by IDF of tanks, helicopter gunships and bulldozers. United Nations agencies and other international agencies, when allowed into Ramallah and other Palestinian cities, documented extensive physical damage to Palestinian Authority civilian property. That damage included the destruction of office equipment, such as computers and photocopying machines, that did not appear to be related to military objectives. While denying that such destruction was systematic, the Israeli Defence Forces have admitted that their personnel engaged in some acts of vandalism, and are carrying out some related prosecutions.
34. The Government of Israel justified each of the incursions as being necessary to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian militant groups that had carried out attacks on Israel with increasing frequency in February and March 2002. In each case, Israel has published information about its assessment of the infrastructure of militant groups. More details regarding such information are included in the sections of the report that describe events in specific Palestinian cities.
35. Closures of cities, villages and refugee camps and curfews exacted a substantial humanitarian price from the civilian populations in the affected areas. That burden was exacerbated in most cities occupied during Operation Defensive Shield by significant periods of time during which utilities (electricity, water and telephone) were cut or severely curtailed. After an initial period of round-the-clock curfews without any relief, the Israeli Defence Forces instituted a periodic lifting. The closures and curfews posed particular problems for those with chronic medical problems, who were unable to obtain care and medications. After the lifting of the closures, when they were able to assess the condition of the affected populations, humanitarian agencies reported shortages of food and other basic supplies among Palestinians affected by the incursions. In addition to these humanitarian consequences of the closures and curfews, the restrictions had a devastating economic impact, virtually shutting down the economy of the Palestinian Authority by impeding normal business activity and preventing Palestinians from going to work.
36. Terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians continued in the aftermath of Operation Defensive Shield, and most Palestinian cities endured further incursions after the end of the operation up to the end of the period under consideration in this report.
E. Overall effects of the incursions on the Palestinian population
37. According to a report prepared by United Nations agencies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the humanitarian and development effects of the two waves of incursions were as follows:
(a) A total of 497 Palestinians were killed in the course of the IDF reoccupation of Palestinian area A from 1 March to 7 May 2002 and in the immediate aftermath;
(b) Palestinian health authorities and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported approximately 1,447 wounded with some 538 live-ammunition injuries (for the same period);
(c) Round-the-clock curfews were imposed in cities, refugee camps, towns and villages affecting an estimated 1 million persons; over 600,000 of them remained under a one-week curfew, while 220,000 urban residents lived under curfew regimes for a longer duration and without vital supplies and access to first aid;
(d) Severe internal and external closures continue to paralyse normal economic activity, and movement of persons and goods throughout the West Bank; in the Gaza Strip, the unprecedented 38-day-long internal closures divided the Strip into three intermittently isolated areas;
(e) Protracted curfews, compounded by severe restrictions on commercial circulation of supplies, rendered the food security situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory precarious: over 630,000 persons or roughly 20 per cent of the resident population were considered food security vulnerable;
(f) Food deficit was increasingly observed in various regions of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Gaza food market being particularly distorted. Restrictions on food imports resulted in a mild increase in the overall food price level in the West Bank and in a considerable rise (up to 25-30%) of prices for staple commodities in the Gaza Strip;
(g) Over 2,800 refugee housing units were damaged and 878 homes were demolished or destroyed during the reporting period, leaving more than 17,000 people homeless or in need of shelter rehabilitation;
(h) Non-refugee housing in Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin town and Tulkarm and a number of surrounding villages sustained damage ranging from minor to structural;
(i) Students in eight West Bank districts were prevented from attending school. It is estimated that, during the reporting period, some 11,000 classes were missed and 55,000 teaching sessions were lost;
(j) Fifty Palestinian schools were damaged by Israeli military action, of which 11 were totally destroyed, 9 were vandalized, 15 used as military outposts and another 15 as mass arrest and detention centres.
38. Even before the recent military operation, economic and social conditions in the West Bank and Gaza were in a state of crisis. According to an assessment by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator, the 18 months of confrontations and restrictions on movement prior to March and April had witnessed a more than 20 per cent reduction in domestic production levels, unprecedented levels of unemployment, a 30 per cent decline in per capita income and a more than doubling of the poverty rate, to some 45 per cent of the Palestinian population.
39. While it is difficult to ascertain with precision the magnitude of the socio-economic effects of the incursions, available preliminary information indicates a sharp intensification of the hardships faced by the population. That information suggests that the principal economic result has been a near-complete cessation of all productive activity in the main West Bank centres of manufacturing, construction, commerce and private and public services. Activities in those centres account for at least 75 per cent of the value of goods and services produced in the West Bank. The production stoppage has imposed immediate income losses on employees and owners of businesses, as well as losses in tax revenues for the Palestinian Authority. In addition, suppliers and buyers in the urban areas directly affected have close economic links to rural areas; the isolation of the former has significant negative effects on the latter. This is also true of the relationship between businesses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
40. In addition to the inability of households to access medical, educational or other services during Operation Defensive Shield, people have been separated from their means of income. This has resulted in lost opportunities to earn income, further compressing household income and savings and exacerbating the severe decline in living levels of the last 18 months. As a result, the West Bank will witness even higher levels of poverty in the short- to medium-term.
41. According to the World Bank, reconstruction costs for physical and institutional damage to Palestinian Authority civilian infrastructure resulting from the incursions in the West Bank in March and April 2002 would total US$ 361 million.
42. While the United Nations does not have a mandate to monitor and report on conditions in Israel, as it does in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, it is apparent that the violence, specifically terrorist attacks, has caused enormous suffering for the Israeli people and the country's economy.
F. Recent events in Jenin
43. In the early hours of 3 April 2002, as part of Operation Defensive Shield, the Israeli Defence Forces entered the city of Jenin and the refugee camp adjacent to it, declared them a closed military area, prevented all access, and imposed a round-the-clock curfew. By the time of the IDF withdrawal and the lifting of the curfew on 18 April, at least 52 Palestinians, of whom up to half may have been civilians, and 23 Israeli soldiers were dead. Many more were injured. Approximately 150 buildings had been destroyed and many others were rendered structurally unsound. Four hundred and fifty families were rendered homeless. The cost of the destruction of property is estimated at approximately $27 million.
Jenin refugee camp before 3 April 2002
44. On the eve of Israel's military incursion in April, the Jenin refugee camp, established in 1953, was home to roughly 14,000 Palestinians, of whom approximately 47 per cent were either under 15 or over 65 years of age. It was the second largest refugee camp in the West Bank in population and was densely populated, occupying a surface area of approximately 373 dunums (one square kilometre). The Jenin refugee camp came under full Palestinian civil and security control in 1995. It is in close proximity to Israeli settlements and is near the "green line".
45. According to both Palestinian and Israeli observers, the Jenin camp had, by April 2002, some 200 armed men from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Tanzim, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas who operated from the camp. The Government of Israel has charged that, from October 2000 to April 2002, 28 suicide attacks were planned and launched from the Jenin camp.
46. The Government of Israel has published information regarding infrastructure within the Jenin camp for the carrying out of attacks. The Israeli Defence Forces point to their discovery in the camp of arms caches and explosive laboratories and the numbers of Palestinian militants killed or arrested there during Operation Defensive Shield. They cite posters glorifying suicide bombers and documents describing Jenin as a "martyr's capital" reportedly found by Israeli soldiers in the camp during the incursion.
47. The Government of Israel and IDF have acknowledged that their soldiers were unprepared for the level of resistance they encountered in Jenin camp, noting that it was "probably the most bitter and harsh" that they had faced. The IDF soldiers who took part in the operation were, for the most part, reservists who had been mobilized only on or after 17 March. Many were called up only after the Passover bombing in Netanya (27 March).
Israeli Defence Force incursion into Jenin city and refugee camp, 3-18 April 2002
48. Although available first-hand accounts are partial, difficult to authenticate and often anonymous, it is possible, through Government of Israel, Palestinian Authority, United Nations and other international sources, to create a rough chronology of events within the Jenin camp from 3 to 18 April 2002. The fighting lasted approximately 10 days and was characterized by two distinct phases: the first phase began on 3 April and ended on 9 April, while the second phase lasted during 10 and 11 April. Most of the deaths on both sides occurred in the first phase but it would appear that much of the physical damage was done in the second.
49. There are allegations by the Palestinian Authority and human rights organizations that in the conduct of their operations in the refugee camp the Israeli Defence Forces engaged in unlawful killings, the use of human shields, disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests and torture and denial of medical treatment and access. IDF soldiers who participated in the Jenin incursion point to breaches of international humanitarian law on the part of Palestinian combatants within the camp, including basing themselves in a densely populated civilian area and the use of children to transport and possibly lay booby traps.
50. In the account of the Government of Israel of the operation, IDF first surrounded and established control of access into and out of the city of Jenin, allowing its inhabitants to depart voluntarily. Approximately 11,000 did so. According to Israeli sources, in their incursion into the camp IDF relied primarily on infantry rather than airpower and artillery in an effort to minimize civilian casualties, but other accounts of the battle suggest that as many as 60 tanks may have been used even in the first days. Interviews with witnesses conducted by human rights organizations suggest that tanks, helicopters and ground troops using small arms predominated in the first two days, after which armoured bulldozers were used to demolish houses and other structures so as to widen alleys in the camp.
51. Using loudspeakers, IDF urged civilians in Arabic to evacuate the camp. Some reports, including of interviews with IDF soldiers, suggest that those warnings were not adequate and were ignored by many residents. Many of the inhabitants of the Jenin camp fled the camp before or at the beginning of the IDF incursion. Others left after 9 April. Estimates vary on how many civilians remained in the camp throughout but there may have been as many as 4,000.
52. As described by the Government of Israel, "a heavy battle took place in Jenin, during which IDF soldiers were forced to fight among booby-trapped houses and bomb fields throughout the camp, which were prepared in advance as a booby-trapped battlefield". The Palestinian Authority acknowledges that "a number of Palestinian fighters resisted the Israeli military assault and were armed only with rifles and É crude explosives". An IDF spokesman offered a slightly different portrayal of the resistance, stating that the soldiers had faced "more than a thousand explosive charges, live explosive charges and some more sophisticated ones, É hundreds of hand grenades É [and] hundreds of gunmen". Human rights reports support the assertions that some buildings had been booby-trapped by the Palestinian combatants.
53. That the Israeli Defence Forces encountered heavy Palestinian resistance is not in question. Nor is the fact that Palestinian militants in the camp, as elsewhere, adopted methods which constitute breaches of international law that have been and continue to be condemned by the United Nations. Clarity and certainty remain elusive, however, on the policy and facts of the IDF response to that resistance. The Government of Israel maintains that IDF "clearly took all possible measures not to hurt civilian life" but were confronted with "armed terrorists who purposely concealed themselves among the civilian population". However, some human rights groups and Palestinian eyewitnesses assert that IDF soldiers did not take all possible measures to avoid hurting civilians, and even used some as human shields.
54. As IDF penetrated the camp, the Palestinian militants reportedly moved further into its centre. The heaviest fighting reportedly occurred between 5 and 9 April, resulting in the largest death tolls on both sides. There are reports that during this period IDF increased missile strikes from helicopters and the use of bulldozers - including their use to demolish homes and allegedly bury beneath them those who refused to surrender - and engaged in "indiscriminate" firing. IDF lost 14 soldiers, 13 in a single engagement on 9 April. IDF incurred no further fatalities in Jenin after 9 April.
55. Press reports from the days in question and subsequent interviews by representatives of non-governmental organizations with camp residents suggest that an average of five Palestinians per day died in the first three days of the incursion and that there was a sharp increase in deaths on 6 April.
56. Fifty-two Palestinian deaths had been confirmed by the hospital in Jenin by the end of May 2002. IDF also place the death toll at approximately 52. A senior Palestinian Authority official alleged in mid-April that some 500 were killed, a figure that has not been substantiated in the light of the evidence that has emerged.
57. It is impossible to determine with precision how many civilians were among the Palestinian dead. The Government of Israel estimated during the incursion that there were "only dozens killed in Jenin É and the vast majority of them bore arms and fired upon [IDF] forces". Israeli officials informed United Nations personnel that they believed that, of the 52 dead, 38 were armed men and 14 were civilians. The Palestinian Authority has acknowledged that combatants were among the dead, and has named some of them, but has placed no precise estimates on the breakdown. Human rights organizations put the civilian toll closer to 20 - Human Rights Watch documented 22 civilians among the 52 dead, while Physicians for Human Rights noted that "children under the age of 15 years, women and men over the age of 50 years accounted for nearly 38 per cent of all reported fatalities".
58. The Israeli Defence Forces stated at the time that their methods might not change, "because the basic assumption is that we are operating in a civilian neighbourhood". Other accounts of the battle suggest that the nature of the military operation in Jenin refugee camp did alter after 9 April 2002. On that day, in what both the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel describe as a "well-planned ambush" 13 IDF soldiers were killed and a number of others wounded. A fourteenth soldier died elsewhere in the camp that day, bringing the IDF death toll during the operation in Jenin to 23.
59. Following the ambush, IDF appeared to have shifted tactics from house-to-house searches and destruction of the homes of known militants to wider bombardment with tanks and missiles. IDF also used armoured bulldozers, supported by tanks, to demolish portions of the camp. The Government of Israel maintains that "IDF forces only destroyed structures after calling a number of times for inhabitants to leave buildings, and from which the shooting did not cease". Witness testimonies and human rights investigations allege that the destruction was both disproportionate and indiscriminate, some houses coming under attack from the bulldozers before their inhabitants had the opportunity to evacuate. The Palestinian Authority maintains that IDF "had complete and detailed knowledge of what was happening in the camp through the use of drones and cameras attached to balloons É [and] none of the atrocities committed were unintentional".
60. Human rights and humanitarian organizations have questioned whether this change in tactics was proportionate to the military objective and in accordance with humanitarian and human rights law. The Palestinian Authority account of the battle alleges the use of "helicopter gunships to fire TOW missiles against such a densely populated area É anti-aircraft guns, able to fire 3,000 rounds a minute É scores of tanks and armoured vehicles equipped with machine guns É [and] bulldozers to raze homes and to burrow wide lanes". Other sources point to an extensive use of armoured bulldozers and helicopter gunships on 9 and 10 April, possibly even after the fighting had begun to subside. During this stage, much of the physical damage was done, particularly in the central Hawashin district of the camp, which was effectively levelled. Many civilian dwellings were completely destroyed and many more were severely damaged. Several UNRWA facilities in the camp, including its health centre and sanitation office, were badly damaged.
61. Within two days after 9 April, IDF brought the camp under control and defeated the remaining armed elements. On 11 April, the last Palestinian militants in Jenin camp surrendered to IDF, having requested mediation by B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization that operates in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, to ensure that no harm would come to them. According to Palestinian Authority sources, those surrendering included wanted Islamic Jihad and Fatah leaders; others were three injured people and a 13-year-old boy.
Conclusion and aftermath of the IDF incursion, 11 April-7 May 2002
62. As the IDF incursion into Jenin wound down, a range of humanitarian problems arose or worsened for the estimated 4,000 Palestinian civilians remaining in the camp. Primary among these was the prolonged delay in obtaining medical attention for the wounded and sick within the camp. As the fighting began to subside, ambulances and medical personnel were prevented by IDF from reaching the wounded within the camp, despite repeated requests to IDF to facilitate access for ambulances and humanitarian delegates, including those of the United Nations. From 11 to 15 April, United Nations and other humanitarian agencies petitioned and negotiated for access to the camp with IDF and made many attempts to send in convoys, to no avail. At IDF headquarters on 12 April, United Nations officials were told that United Nations humanitarian staff would be given access to the affected population. However, such access did not materialize on the ground, and several more days of negotiations with senior IDF officials and personnel of the Israeli Ministry of Defence did not produce the necessary access despite assurances to the contrary. On 18 April, senior United Nations officials criticized Israel for its handling of humanitarian access in the aftermath of the battle and, in particular, its refusal to facilitate full and safe access to the affected populations in violation of its obligations under international humanitarian law.
63. UNRWA mounted a large operation to deliver food and medical supplies to needy refugees who had fled the camp and to Jenin hospital but was not allowed to enter the camp. The humanitarian crisis was exacerbated by the fact that, on the first day of the offensive, electricity in both the city and the camp were cut by IDF. Electric power was not restored until 21 April.
64. Many of the reports of human rights groups contain accounts of wounded civilians waiting days to reach medical assistance, and being refused medical treatment by IDF soldiers. In some cases, people died as a result of these delays. In addition to those wounded in the fighting, there were civilian inhabitants of the camp and the city who endured medication shortages and delays in medical treatment for pre-existing conditions. For example, it was reported on 4 April that there were 28 kidney patients in Jenin who could not reach the hospital for dialysis treatment.
65. The functioning of Jenin Hospital, just outside the camp, appears to have been severely undermined by IDF actions, despite IDF statements that "nothing was done to the hospital". The hospital's supplies of power, water, oxygen and blood were badly affected by the fighting and consequent cuts in services. On 4 April, IDF ordered the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to stop its operations and sealed off the hospital. Hospital staff contend that shells and gunfire severely damaged equipment on the top floor and that at least two patients died because of damage to the oxygen supplies. None of the Palestinians within the hospital was permitted to leave until 15 April.
66. It appears that, in addition to the denial of aid, IDF in some instances targeted medical personnel. Before the Jenin incursion, on 4 March, the head of the PRCS Emergency Medical Service in Jenin was killed by a shell fired from an Israeli tank while he was travelling in a clearly marked ambulance. On 7 March, a staff member of UNRWA was killed when several bullets were fired by Israeli soldiers at an UNRWA ambulance in which he was riding near Tulkarm in the West Bank. On 3 April, a uniformed Palestinian nurse was reportedly shot by IDF soldiers within Jenin camp and on 8 April an UNRWA ambulance was fired upon as it tried to reach a wounded man in Jenin.
67. The Government of Israel repeatedly charged that medical vehicles were used to transport terrorists and that medical premises were used to provide shelter. This, according to Israel, necessitated the strict restrictions on humanitarian access. Furthermore, in the specific case of Jenin camp, IDF spokesmen attributed denials of access to the clearance of booby traps after the fighting had subsided. The IDF spokesman also maintained that the "Palestinians actually refused our offers to assist them with humanitarian aid" and that "everyone who needed help, got help". There is a consensus among humanitarian personnel who were present on the ground that the delays endangered the lives of many wounded and ill within. United Nations and other humanitarian personnel offered to comply fully with IDF security checks on entering and leaving the camp, but were not able to enter the camp on this basis. Furthermore, United Nations staff reported that IDF had granted some Israeli journalists escorted access to the camp on 14 April, before humanitarian personnel were allowed in. United Nations personnel requested similar escorted access to assess the humanitarian condition of people in the camp, but were unsuccessful, despite assurances from senior IDF officials that such access would be possible.
68. On 15 April, 12 days after the start of the military operation, IDF granted humanitarian agencies access to the Jenin refugee camp. The Palestine Red Crescent Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross were permitted to enter the camp under military escort but reported that their movement was strictly confined to certain areas and further constrained by the presence of large quantities of unexploded ordnance including booby traps. After evacuating only seven bodies, they aborted their efforts. A United Nations team including two trucks with water and supplies was forbidden from unloading its supplies and was also forced to withdraw. Supplies were distributed to the camp inhabitants only beginning the following day, 16 April. Acute food and water shortages were evident and humanitarian personnel began calls for specialized search-and-rescue efforts to extract the wounded and the dead from the rubble.
69. Once IDF granted full access to the camp on 15 April, unexploded ordnance impeded the safe operations of humanitarian personnel. Non-United Nations humanitarian agencies reported that large amounts of unexploded ordnance, explosives laid by Palestinian combatants as well as IDF ordnance, slowed their work. Negotiations carried out by United Nations and international agencies with IDF to allow appropriate equipment and personnel into the camp to remove the unexploded ordnance continued for several weeks, during which time at least two Palestinians were accidentally killed in explosions.
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