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Monday, October 9, 2000
: B'Tselem: Press Release (+IMRA note) Even in “Time of War” ' Not All Is Permitted


1.: B'Tselem: Press Release (+IMRA note) Even in “Time of War” ' Not All Is Permitted


1. Reading this press release it would appear that B'Tselem considers the
throwing of rocks, steel rods and fire bombs to fall within the category of
"civilian" activity.

2. They raise no objection to killing settlers with stones or firebombs (a
number of settlers have been killed by stones that crashed through their
windshields and firebombs have taken their victims).

3. B'Tselem sanctions the Palestinians to shoot settlers who have the gaul
to defend themselves against stones and firebombs.

4. B'Tselem makes no mention of restrictions on the use of ambulances to
transport forces and weapons - something that has made it difficult for
Israel to allow for the free low of ambulances.

5. B'Tselem fails to recognize that the Palestinian leadership, through
Fatah and the other movements as well as the PA has essentially declared
war. A war in which many of their forces operate in civilian dress. To
suggest that under these circunmstances that Israel should ignore this an
act as if carte blanche should be afforded to anyone not wearing a uniform
is to ignore reality.]


Oct. 9, 2000 PRESS RELEASE
Even in “Time of War” ' Not All Is Permitted
There have been reports of several violent incidents during this past week
in the Occupied Territories. In some cases both sides acted as against
international humanitarian law. The provisions of this law place constraints
on permissible acts during wartime, in order to minimize injury to those who
take no active part in the hostilities: prisoners of war, wounded persons
and civilians. Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, said on
Saturday: “Up to now I have ordered restraint. Not to act, only to react.
But if we don't see a change within the next two days…we will instruct the
IDF and the security forces to take any means at their disposal to stop the

In view of this, B'Tselem would like to inform all parties of the rules
which bind them, according to international law, in these cases:

Protection of civilians: Shooting at civilians is permissible only in cases
of real and immediate danger to life. Shooting is permitted only against
those who pose a threat to life, and such shooting must be proportional to
the threat and intended to put it at a distance. Even in the case of real
and immediate danger to life indiscriminate shooting at civilians is

Distinction between armed and unarmed persons: Persons armed with firearms
are forbidden to congregate with unarmed persons, even if these be stone
throwers. Interfusion of these two groups puts unarmed persons at risk.
Nevertheless, the fact that one side to the conflict does not hearken to
these prohibitions does not permit the other side to ignore the above rules
concerning injury to civilians. In view of this: Shooting by the Israeli
security forces at a crowd, from which they are being shot at and their
lives put at risk, must be directed, as far as is possible, to the source of
danger. Injury to unarmed civilians nearby must be curtailed even if they be
throwing stones. Such shooting must be proportional to the danger and it is
impermissible, for example, to react to gun-shooting with anti-tank
missiles. Furthermore, rubber-covered metal bullets are lethal. Therefore,
they must be used only in life-threatening situations and not for crowd
dispersal. The Palestinian Authority must ensure that people armed with
firearms be placed separately from civilians, even if these be stone
throwers. This rule applies until such time as this population must be
defended against exaggerated use of force by Israeli security forces which
threatens civilians' lives.

Shooting directed at settlements by Palestinians, when there is no danger to
life, is prohibited.

Protection of wounded persons, medical personnel, and ambulances: It is
absolutely prohibited to intentionally attack medical personnel and
ambulances, and they are to be permitted free movement for evacuation of the
wounded. In any case of casualties, shooting must be stopped at the earliest
possible circumstances to enable their evacuation.

Violence perpetrated by Israeli civilians: Israeli security forces are
obliged to protect Palestinians from violence perpetrated by Israeli

Freedom of movement: Passage of food and medical supplies to the territories
must be ensured, as well as freedom of movement, including into Israel, in
cases of humanitarian emergencies. Curfew will be administered only in
extreme circumstances and as a last resort. In no case will curfew be
administered as a punitive measure. In cases where curfew is administered,
the population must be permitted to exit their homes for provisions of food
and medical supplies. In view of this: the curfew administered since Oct.
2nd on H2 areas in Hebron must be called off, Dahania Airport in Gaza must
be reopened, and Palestinians must be permitted to travel abroad.

Journalists: As far as is possible, under the circumstances, journalists
must be given freedom of operation to report. In no case may journalists, or
their equipment, be intentionally attacked.

Damage to Holy Places: Both sides must protect the holy sites and refrain
from their defilement.

Collective punishment: Collective punishment of civilian population ' such
as harm to water or electricity, bombing of civilian infrastructure, or
limitation of freedom of movement ' is absolutely prohibited.

Prisoners: Harm to prisoners by either side is absolutely prohibited. They
must, in no case, be tortured or killed in interrogation. They must be
permitted to send mail and visitation by the Red Cross.
B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied
Territories is the leading Israeli organization monitoring, documenting and
advocating to improve human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Founded
in 1989, B'Tselem publishes reports, engages in advocacy and serves as a
resource center.
43 Emek Refaim Street
Jerusalem 93141 ISRAEL
Telephone: 972-2-5617271
Fax: 972-2-561-0756

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