Memorandum from Amnesty International
1. Amnesty International has serious concerns
about the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. The IDF has been
showing total disrespect for international humanitarian and human
rights law, whilst Palestinian armed groups continue to deliberately
target Israeli civilians.
2. An Amnesty International delegation comprising
Javier Zuniga, Director of Regional Strategy in the International
Secretariat, Kathleen Cavanaugh, Professor of Law from Galway
University, Ireland and Derrick Pounder, Professor of Forensic
Medicine from Dundee University in Scotland has been in Jenin
from 15 to 20 April. They were initially refused access to the
refugee camp and hospital. They subsequently described the situation
as one of "devastation".
3. The Amnesty International delegation
is satisfied from its initial findings that there is a case to
answer. Abuses of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian
law have clearly taken place. It is now essential to determine
the scale of these abuses.
4. Humanitarian Assistance: Amnesty
International's delegation, which was eventually given limited
access to Jenin, has called for immediate international humanitarian
assistance to be sent to the area. Humanitarian organisations
were denied access to the area for 13 days. The delegation are
concerned that there is a real possibility that people are still
alive under the rubble of their former homes and that there has
been no evidence of concerted efforts to search for and rescue
survivors. UN Security Resolution 1405, adopted on 19 April, calls
for the lifting of restrictions imposed on humanitarian organisations.
5. Impartial investigations: According
to the principles of international law, when deaths have occurred
in disputed circumstances there must be an impartial investigation
with the co-operation of all sides. Late on 19 April, the Security
Council endorsed the Secretary General's initiative to develop
a fact-finding team to develop accurate information regarding
recent events in the Jenin refugee camp.
6. It is essential that the fact-finding
team be adequately resourced. It must comprise of persons known
for their impartiality and integrity, with proven expertise in
the conduct of criminal and forensic investigations. It should
include experts in the use of forensics, ballistics, human rights
and humanitarian law. The team should also include people who
have proven expertise in the protection and support of victims
and witnesses, including women and children. The team should report
publicly as soon as possible.
7. International observers: The
need for an international observer mission to be sent to the Middle
East has been acknowledged at the highest levels, including by
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Whilst in Texas earlier this
month, the Prime Minister said there was a need for `. . . external
assistance to get security back on the agenda in a realistic way'.
8. The international observer mission must
include persons with relevant expertise and training would help
monitor the compliance of both parties with international human
rights and humanitarian law. Their presence at points of friction,
such as IDF checkpoints and areas where Jewish settlements lie
in close proximity to Palestinian towns, and through their reporting
would enhance protection of both Palestinians and Israeli civilians.
They would also serve as a deterrent to unlawful behaviour and
help combat the lack of accountability and impunity that characterises
the situation today.
9. The occurrence of abuses of human rights
frequently involves claims and counter-claims concerning specific
incidents. Israeli settlers have killed and attacked Palestinians.
Palestinians have shot deliberately at cars with Israeli number
plates travelling along the roads of the Occupied Territories
and set off bombs in shopping centres and restaurants. Israelis
have become fearful in crowded streets and cafes and on the roads
of the Occupied Territories. Palestinians have become fearful
in houses or streets, when walking or driving, especially at the
checkpoints where for no apparent reason they may be killed. Given
the lack of past investigations and in the present atmosphere
of distrust and mutual accusation, it is imperative to gather
information that is accurate and impartial. This information could
be used to press the authorities to initiate prompt imparital
and transparent investigations into allegations of abuse and bring
to justice those responsible.
10. The mandate for any international observer
mission should be clear and transparent and require the monitors
to report to the authorities responsible and to the public. They
should have access to the decision-makers on each side and have
unrestricted access to all areas including, places of detention,
and to those areas which have been declared or effectively become
11. The European Union is Israel's major
trading partner. In 2000, EU-Israel trade represented 32 per cent
($7.6 billion) of Israeli exports (not including the trade in
precious stones) and 41 per cent ($11.8 billion) of total Israeli
imports. The main instrument to promote EU-Israel relations is
the Association Agreement. Human rights are an essential element
of this agreement. As long ago as November 2001, the EU noted
that "violence has reached levels not seen for years"
and expressed concern "with human rights and other international
law violations . . . such as the practice of extra-judicial killings
of Palestinians carried out by Israeli security forces".
The situation has clearly deteriorated since then and the European
Union needs to account for the human rights clause in the agreement.
12. Israel is a small market for UK strategic
exports. In 2000 the UK licensed £12.5 million worth of arms
and security exports. The UK mainly sells components which are
used in other weapons systems and platforms. In the past the UK
Government has relied on assurances from the Israeli authorities
that UK-supplied equipment is not being used to commit human rights
violations. As a form of end-use monitoring, this is insufficient.
13. It was recently discovered that UK-supplied
Centurion tanks were being used in the Occupied Territories. The
tanks has been modified into armoured personnel carriers. The
Israeli Foreign Ministry gave assurances on 29 November 2000 about
the operational need and the use of the armoured personnel carriers
in the Occupied Territories. They did not accept that the use
of the UK-supplied tanks was a breach of the assurances given
and they did not commit to stop using the armoured personnel carriers
in the occupied territories. In light of this, the Government
decided to continue to assess export licence applications for
the proposed export of controlled goods to Israel on a case-by-case
basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing
criteria. In so doing they will no longer take the Israeli assurances
given on 29 November 2000 into account.
14. Given the widespread allegations of
human rights and humanitarian law violations, the impossibility
of independent verification and the variety of equipment currently
deployed in the West Bank, there is a clear risk that UK and EU
arms transfers may breach national and European criteria.
Amnesty International UK
3 Second Meeting of the Association Council EU-Israel,
Brussels 20 November 2001. Document number 1427/01 (Presse 433). Back