May 19, 2004
The Independent

Israeli Tactics That Fuel the Intifada

by Donald Macintyre

Israel was accused yesterday of committing a war crime by its destruction of more than 3,000 Palestinian homes in Israel and the occupied territories since the intifada began three and a half years ago.

The damning report from Amnesty International came as the Israeli army killed up to 19 Palestinians - children as well as militants - in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip where General Moshe Ya'alon, the army chief of staff, warned at the weekend that hundreds more homes could be destroyed.

In its critique of the Israeli policy of destroying buildings and "vast areas" of agricultural land, the report challenges head-on the argument that the destruction is militarily necessary. It also warns that "punitive forced evictions and house demolitions" are a "flagrant form of collective punishment" that "violate a fundamental principle of international law".

The report was published as a heavily armoured Israeli force moved into the Tel Sultan district of the Rafah camp yesterday, in one of Israel's biggest incursions into Gaza. The attack followed an assault by helicopter gunships which had earlier killed seven Palestinians - at least three of them gunmen - outside a mosque. . . .

The greatest burden of house destruction has fallen on Gaza, with more than 2,200 demolitions in the past three-and-a-half years, and Rafah the worst afflicted area. The Amnesty report suggests that a high proportion of demolitions is purely punitive and that such "collective punishment", including destruction of homes of families of suicide bombers, is against international law.


Ramzy Baroud, "America, We Feel your Pain, Do you Feel Ours?," The Wisdom Fund, September 18, 2001

"What's Wrong With 'Suicide' Bombing?," The Wisdom Fund, May 9, 2002

Akiva Eldar, "Sharon's Bantustans Are Far From Copenhagen's Hope?," Haaretz, May 13, 2003

Uri Avnery, "Sharon's Herzliyah Speech," Gush Shalom, December 18, 2003

Evelyn Leopold, "UN Council Votes Against Israel Demolition," Reuters, May 19, 2003

Chris McGreal, "Ten die as Israeli tanks fire on peaceful protest," Guardian, May 20, 2004

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