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LETTER FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, DATED MARCH 14, 1988
March 14, 1988
Chairman Lee H. Hamilton
Dear Chairman Hamilton:
I hope that you and your colleagues on the subcommittee will focus on human rights in the Israeli Occupied Territories in your next hearing.
There are several issues which are of particular concern:
1. What efforts has the U.S. government made to monitor trials before military courts of thousands of Palestinians who have been arbitrarily detained and summarily tried and convicted ? Amnesty International believes that these courts are inconsistent with international standards of justice.
2. In addition to the Israeli government's announced policy of beating demonstrators, there have been an increased number of complaints and affidavits from detainees who charge that they were ill-treated and tortured by Israeli security officials while held in incommunicado detention. What efforts has the U.S. government made to enforce Public Law 98-447, the Congressional Resolution Against Torture, in the course of U.S.- Israeli relations?
3. Hundreds of Palestinians, including women and children, have been beaten by Israeli soldiers, at least 85 have been shot dead. How many Israeli soldiers have been disciplined for their actions, which violate Israeli army regulations for quelling unrest and the international human rights treaties which Israel has ratified? How have they been disciplined?
4. Has the U.S. government called for an inquiry by the Israeli government into these abuses? If so, what has been the response?
We believe the human rights situation in the Israeli Occupied Territories should be addressed in future hearings by your committee.
Amnesty International would welcome the opportunity to testify at such hearings.
I appreciate the serious attention I know you will give to these human rights concerns.
REPORT FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, DATED MARCH, 1988
"Human Rights violations in Israel and the Occupied
The death toll in the Israeli-Occupied Territories continues to rise. At least 85 civilians have been shot in violation of Israeli Army regulations for quelling unrest. Hundreds have been severely beaten by soldiers, wounded Palestinians have reportedly been dragged out of a Gaza hospital, beaten and taken into military custody.
In mid-January Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Minister of Defense, appeared to give the armed forces license to beat indiscriminately when he publicly announced that the army would use "might, power and beatings", rather than live ammunition, to deter violent demonstrators. Both before and after that announcement demonstrators and bystanders, including women and children, were beaten by soldiers with clubs and rifle butts. Many have been hospitalized with broken limbs, fractures, head wounds and extensive bruising.
Thousands have been arbitrarily detained, frequently in nightime raids where soldiers have arrested entire households. Many of those arrested had no involvement with the demonstrations.
Detainees have been held incommunicado and denied access to lawyers and family members. AI has received an increased number of complaints and affidavits, that detainees have been hooded, beaten and, in some cases, tortured with electric shock in order to force confessions. Israeli authorities have ignored the majority of these reports. In several cases the lawyers who made complaints were themselves threatened.
Hundreds of the Palestinians arrested have already been sentenced to prison terms following summary trials before military courts which fail to meet international standards of justice.
On February 20, 1988 Amnesty International sent a mission to Israel and the Occupied Territories and urged the Israeli government to launch an immediate judicial inquiry into all killings by Israeli soldiers and make public the results of the inquiry. We also recommended that soldiers and security officials responsible for beating and illtreating detainees be prosecuted. In this regard, it is important to recall Public Law 98-447 which mandates the U.S. Government to protest the use of torture wherever it is practiced.
ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
ORAL STATEMENT TO THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights violations on an extensive scale have been a feature of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza in recent months. In response to Palestinian protest and unrest, some of it violent, Israeli armed forces have repeatedly resorted to the use of lethal force and have inflicted severe - often indiscriminate - beatings on demonstrators and others in the Occupied Territories opposed to continued Israeli administration. Leaders of the Palestinian community have been administratively detained or deported to Lebanon, while hundreds of demonstrators and other protestors have been taken before military courts, summarily tried and sentenced to prison terms.
Since 9 December 1987, when demonstrations began, at least 85 demonstrators and bystanders have been shot and killed in the West Bank and Gaza (Palestinian sources give a considerably higher figure for the numbers of deaths during this period). The dead include women and teenagers. An unknown number of Palestinians have been injured, many seriously, not only by gunfire but also after soldiers have deliberately carried out beatings. In mid-January Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Minister of Defence, appeared to give the armed forces license to beat indiscriminately when he publicly announced that the army would use "might, power and beatings", rather than live ammunition, to deter violent demonstrators. Both before and after that announcement demonstrators and bystanders, including women and children, were beaten by soldiers with clubs and rifle butts. Many have been hospitalized with broken limbs, fractures, head wounds and extensive bruising. Some were reportedly beaten after soldiers had taken them into custody or after being injured by gunfire. Members of the armed forces were reportedly seen dragging wounded Palestinians out of Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, beating them and taking them into custody.
In December Amnesty International urged the Israeli Defence Minister to order a thorough investigation of the killings and beatings, many of which appeared to be the result of unnecessary and excessive force. Amnesty International said that there should be a full investigation in each case to determine whether security forces had complied with official regulations governing the use of firearms and whether those killed or injured had in fact been engaged in life-threatening activity. Amnesty International understands that some investigations have been carried out, but is concerned that not all cases have been investigated and that the use of live ammunition and beatings continues.
Members of the armed forces have carried out arbitrary arrests without warrants and without telling people why they were being arrested. It
in the West Bank and Gaza. Do we consider the Cairo Declaration to be an adequate repudiation of terrorism?
Ambassador MURPHY. No.
Mr. SOLARZ. What would we require? Would we require the PLO to renounce the use of force under any and all circumstances within Israel and the West Bank and Gaza also?
Ambassador MURPHY. That's right. If it expects to be invited to that conference.
SYRIA'S POSITION ON AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE Mr. SOLARZ. You have made the point that in Secretary Shultz' proposal for an international conference, the five permanent members of the Security Council would not have any right to impose a settlement or be a court of last resort in the negotiations. They would in effect be an umbrella under which direct negotiations would take place.
What has been the Syrian position on this? Has Assad accepted our formulation, or has he said he would only agree to participate in an international conference if the international conference, the five permanent members of the Security Council, had the right to impose a settlement on the parties to the conference?
Ambassador MURPHY. No, I think as I understand his position, it's not that exactly. For instance, he wouldn't accept an imposed solution to his problems with Israel if he didn't happen to agree with them. He would like, though, the international community represented by the five to be in total, explicit, and highly precise agreement on the guidelines for the negotiation so that also we're not going to negotiate over land as far as Syria is concerned. That is not negotiable. Non-belligerency. Peace may be negotiable, but not land.
Mr. SOLARZ. As I understand it, Secretary Shultz asked the three heads of state to whom he sent his letter, King Hussein, President Assad, and Prime Minister Shamir, for a response by today as to whether or not they accept his letter. I think March 15th was the date that he mentioned. As of this moment, have we received responses from Jordan or Syria?
Ambassador MURPHY. No, we don't have responses from any one. We don't have a hangup about the particular day. The hope was it would be by mid-March, but we think that time is going to run out on the opportunity to move ahead, so as soon as possible is the word, get your answer.
JORDAN'S VIEWS ON A JOINT JORDANIAN-PALESTINIAN DELEGATION
Mr. SOLARZ. Finally, you have indicated, I think, Israel's strong desire for a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation in any negotiations which take place. I think you've also said that Jordan prefers a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. I gather the PLO has taken the position that it insists on a separate Palestinian delegation. Could you tell us why Jordan is insisting on a joint JordanianPalestinian delegation as opposed to being willing to accept a separate Palestinian delegation?
Ambassador MURPHY. I think its assumption is that's the only way the negotiations are going to get started and continue. You re
member back in 1985 when there was the Hussein-Arafat Accord, then joint delegation was perfectly acceptable. They liked the phrasing of the President's speech back in 1982 before that about an entity, an association with Jordan would be the result of the negotiations. So they do feel responsible for negotiations, at the same time limited in their capability to carry out negotiations if the Palestinians aren't there, but they feel the only realistic way to go is with them.
Mr. SOLARZ. Will Jordan enter negotiations if Israel accepts the Shultz formula but the PLO rejects it? In other words, what happens if the PLO says it refuses to participate and it refuses to countenance the participation of any Palestinians?
Ambassador MURPHY. All I can say is there have to be Palestinians, and there has to be some acquiescence there.
Mr. SOLARZ. Would the King do it over the objections of the PLO?
Ambassador MURPHY. I don't know that Palestinians would do it over the objections of the PLO. So it comes around to the same thing.
Mr. SOLARZ. So you're saying in effect the PLO has a veto over the peace process?
Ambassador MURPHY. Yes. I think everyone has a veto over the peace process. That's one of the beauties of it.
Mr. SOLARZ. Mr. Chairman, on that discouraging note, I thank you very much for indulging me. I very much appreciate it.
TRENDS IN VIOLENCE IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA Mr. HAMILTON. I'm glad to have you, Mr. Solarz.
Mr. Secretary, I'd like to return to the West Bank and Gaza. I'm interested in your view of the trends. We have now had about 90 Palestinians killed, the disturbances have gone on for a period of weeks. Do you see the trend line of these disturbances increasing or decreasing or staying about the same?
Ambassador MURPHY. I'd say staying about the same. There seem to be fewer of the 200-300 people demonstrations. I think you're beginning to see more than rocks coming out. There are weapons out there, there are weapons present in the West Bank and Gaza, but that's been one of the extraordinary things. As I said earlier, they were very restrained.
Mr. HAMILTON. Do you anticipate that those weapons would begin to be used shortly?
Ambassador MURPHY. I don't want anything I say to contribute to a trend. But you've gone from rocks to malatov cocktails. You've had outright terrorism used in the bus incident, in the hijacking. I think you can expect to see more of that.
Mr. HAMILTON. I guess the question is, are these disturbances going to fade out in a short period of time, or do you anticipate that the situation has changed markedly and that these events are going to go on for some period of time and you're going to have a kind of war of attrition going on out here?
Ambassador MURPHY. Obviously if Israel decided to crush them, Israel could use massive force and blanket the area and keep the disturbances much more constrained. Israel has not chosen to go