Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2013

In the following eight days, before a ceasefire on 21 November was reached with Egyptian mediation, more than 160 Palestinians, including more than 30 children and some 70 other civilians, and six Israelis, including four civilians, were killed. Both sides committed war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law. The Israeli air force carried out bomb and missile strikes on residential areas, including strikes that were disproportionate and caused heavy civilian casualties. Other strikes damaged or destroyed civilian property, media facilities, government buildings and police stations. In most cases, Israel did not present evidence that these specific sites had been used for military purposes. The Israeli navy shelled populated coastal areas with artillery in indiscriminate attacks. The military wing of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired rockets and other weapons into Israel, killing civilians and damaging civilian property.

  • On 18 November, 10 members of the al-Dalu family, including four children under the age of eight, a teenage girl, and four women, and two of their neighbours were killed when their home was struck in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City. Israeli military spokespersons stated variously that the strike was an accident, or was intended to hit a militant, but gave different names for the target, without providing evidence to support their claims.
  • On 19 November, five-year-old Mohammed Abu Zur and two of his aunts were killed, and dozens wounded, when their neighbour's house was targeted in an Israeli air strike.

Detention without trial

More than 320 Palestinians from the OPT were held without charge or trial in administrative detention during the year, but their numbers decreased substantially following a mass hunger strike (see under ‘Prison conditions' below). Several Palestinians released in a 2011 prisoner exchange were re-arrested on the orders of a military committee and held for extended periods without being charged or having their previous sentences formally reinvoked.

  • West Bank resident Hana Shalabi was transferred to Gaza, probably against her will, for at least three years in April following a 43-day hunger strike against her administrative detention, which began in February 2012.

Prison conditions

On 17 April, some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners and detainees went on hunger strike to protest against their conditions, including the use of solitary confinement, detention without charge or trial and the denial of family visits. They ended their hunger strike on 14 May following an Egyptian-brokered deal with the Israeli authorities, according to which the Israeli authorities agreed to end the solitary confinement of 19 prisoners and lift a ban on family visits to prisoners from Gaza. Two Palestinian prisoners were still held in long-term isolation at the end of 2012, and short-term isolation continued to be used as punishment.

  • Hassan Shuka, an administrative detainee held without charge or trial since 17 September 2010, was permitted to receive family visits only from his sisters, aged 14 and eight, at Ketziot prison in southern Israel; other family members were barred from entering Israel.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Palestinian detainees reported being tortured and otherwise ill-treated during interrogation by the Israel Security Agency (ISA), including being subjected to painful shackling or binding of the limbs, immobilization in stress positions, sleep deprivation, threats and verbal abuse. Detainees were denied access to lawyers while under interrogation for days and occasionally weeks. Detainees on prolonged hunger strikes were repeatedly denied access to independent doctors and ill-treated by Israel Prison Service (IPS) staff.