AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE
9 October 2000
AI Index MDE 15/035/2000 - News Service Nr. 193
Israel/Occupied Territories/Lebanon: Amnesty International calls for UN
"Since 29 September, Israeli security forces have frequently used
excessive force on demonstrators when lives were not in immediate danger,"
Amnesty International said today.
In preliminary conclusions from Amnesty International's delegation in
Israel and the Occupied Territories the human rights organization
reiterated its condemnation of the excessive use of force by law
"In many cases the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), the Israel Police and
the Border Police have apparently breached their own internal regulations
on the use of force, as well as international human rights standards on the
use of force and firearms," Amnesty International said.
More than 80 people, including children, nearly all of them
Palestinians from the Occupied Territories and Israel, have died since
clashes began on 29 September 2000 between Israeli security forces and
Palestinian demonstrators all over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as
well as in Israel. There have also been armed confrontations between the
Israeli and Palestinian security forces.
An Amnesty International delegation is currently in Israel and the
Occupied Territories, including the areas under the jurisdiction of the
Palestinian Authority, to examine policing of demonstrations in view of the
loss of life. The delegation is composed of Dr. Stephen Males, a former
senior Police officer of the UK police with special expertise in sensitive
public order policing, and Dr Elizabeth Hodgkin, a researcher from the
International Secretariat of Amnesty International.
The delegates have met NGOs, doctors and over 50 witnesses to the
events. They have visited to sites in Ramallah, Nablus, East Jerusalem,
Nazareth, Arabah and other parts of northern Israel, places where
demonstrators have died after the Israeli security forces fired on
demonstrators and rioters. The delegates have seen large quantities of
expended and some live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, CS grenades
and projectiles, during visits to sites of demonstrations, as well as
bullets embedded in surrounding homes and much bullet damage.
Amnesty International has compiled the following preliminary
- In many cases security forces apparently used firearms when their lives
and the lives of others were not in imminent danger. However, according to
internationally adopted principles, law enforcement officials shall only
use firearms, if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of
achieving the intended result. Firearms may be used against people, after
appropriate warnings are given, only to prevent death or serious injury
where less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. The
standards underscore that law enforcement officials may resort to the
intentional lethal use of firearms only when strictly unavoidable to
- In some instances, Israeli security forces impeded wounded persons from
receiving access to medical assistance. Security forces also reportedly
fired on people helping to remove the wounded, in two cases killing
ambulance men. The International Committee of the Red Cross has publicly
appealed to all parties to protect and assist the injured and all medical
personnel in their vital life-saving operations.
- In instances where the security forces have not been deployed against
demonstrators, riots have generally not evolved and crowds have dispersed.
For example, after two days in which two Palestinians were killed in
demonstrations in Um al-Fahm in Israel on 1 and 2 October, on 3 October
security forces did not arrive to police a demonstration and demonstrators
Two Palestinian refugees were also reported killed in south Lebanon on
7 October when Israeli troops opened fire across the Lebanese-Israeli
border on demonstrators protesting against Israel.
On 7 October, three Israeli soldiers were captured at about noon by
the Lebanese armed group Hizbullah. Amnesty International calls on
Hizbullah to accord the three soldiers prisoner of war status and to allow
them immediate access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Amnesty International notes that Hizbullah has publicly stated its
intention to use the three Israeli soldiers to secure the release of
Lebanese and other Arab prisoners held in Israel.
Amnesty International reminds Hizbullah that hostage-taking is
prohibited by international law and is inconsistent with fundamental
principles of international humanitarian law. Amnesty International has
long called for the release of Lebanese detainees held in Israel as
hostages, including Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim al-'Ubayd and Mustafa al-Dirani.
A national commission established by the Israeli government will
investigate killings which occurred in Israel. However, it is important
that all killings are investigated which occurred in circumstances
suggesting that they violated international law and standards.
Investigations should be conducted by an independent and impartial body and
by one which, in the current highly-charged political atmosphere, is
perceived as such.
Amnesty International is therefore calling on the United Nations to
establish urgently an independent international investigation, to include
criminal justice experts known for their impartiality and integrity, to
investigate all killings of civilians that took place since 29 September in
Israel, the Occupied Territories and south Lebanon.
"To ensure independence and impartiality of the international
investigation, its members should exclude persons whose background could
appear to lack impartiality," Amnesty International said.
"The investigation should be properly resourced and include
ballistic, forensic or other technical experts that may be required. It
should report to the Commission on Human Rights, the General Assembly and
the Security Council, and the authorities concerned should be obliged to
cooperate fully with the investigation."
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in
London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW web :