October 18, 2004

II. RECOMMENDATIONS

To the Government of Israel

  • Cease all property destruction that is not absolutely necessary to the conduct of hostilities, including all punitive ("deterrent") destruction.Prohibit attacks against property on the basis of mere suspicion or hypothetical risk rather than absolute military necessity.
  • Repudiate plans to widen the border ("Philadelphi") buffer zone, including in the event of "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip.
  • Allow general return of residents to demolished areas, including in de facto buffer zones.Ensure that any restrictions on return are proportionate in impact and duration, regularly re-evaluated and implemented only when and to the extent necessary, open to challenge before an impartial court, and accompanied by provisions for adequate housing.
  • Ensure that any use of armed force, especially along the Rafah border or around other Israeli bases, is proportionate and discriminate.Ensure that open fire regulations issued to members of the Israel Defense Force in border fortifications comply with the U.N. Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
  • Investigate and hold accountable all members of the IDF and their superiors found to have destroyed, or tolerated the destructions of, homes or property in violation of international humanitarian law.
  • Pay reparations and full compensation to owners of unlawfully demolished homes.If funds for repairing unlawful damage caused by the IDF are allocated by international donors, compensate donors directly.
  • Ensure that any control of property for security reasons is fully consistent with both international human rights standards and international humanitarian law.Control of property should be used only when and to the extent necessary, should not amount to confiscation, and should be open to challenge before an impartial court.
  • Maintain accurate statistics on property damaged, make that information publicly accessible in a timely fashion, and require that such reporting be part of the operational debrief following any military operation.Such record keeping should also include the precise justification for the demolition, whether it was conducted in the course of combat activities, and the specific incidents that led to that demolition or property destruction.
  • Repeal the 2002 amendment to the Torts (State Liability) Law to allow individuals whose property has been wrongfully damaged in IDF operations to claim compensation.
  • Cease immediately the practice of using lethal force to enforce mass house arrest or curfew.
  • Cease immediately the practice of indiscriminately destroying roads, as well as associated destruction of infrastructure.
  • Cease immediately the coerced use of civilians to assist IDF military operations.
  • To the maximum extent feasible, avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.Take all necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under IDF control against the dangers resulting from military operations.
  • Allow immediate access to, and cooperate fully with, the human rights special mechanisms of the United Nations as well as other independent international investigators, to investigate allegations of human rights violations since the beginning of the uprising on September 29, 2000.
  • Explain why the IDF is not using less destructive methods of neutralizing tunnels.

To the Palestinian National Authority

  • Instruct the law enforcement agencies of the PNA to take all possible steps, in accordance with internationally accepted human rights norms, to identify and bring to justice anyone who incites, plans, assists, or attempts to carry out attacks against civilians.
  • Take all possible steps to restrict the flow of arms used in attacks against civilians.
  • Discourage Palestinian armed groups from launching attacks from civilian areas.
  • Map accurately and comprehensively the exact location, nature, and value of properties and agricultural land destroyed by the IDF.

To Palestinian armed groups in Rafah

  • Cease deliberate attacks against civilians and civilian targets.
  • Cease use of inherently indiscriminate weapons.These include rockets that cannot be aimed and victim-activated explosive devices such as booby-traps.
  • To the maximum extent feasible, avoid launching attacks from areas populated by civilians or locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.Take all necessary precautions to protect the civilian population control against the dangers resulting from armed activities.

To the International Community

  • Demand that the Government of Israel and the PNA implement the above recommendations.
  • Insist that Israel continue to abide by its responsibilities as an Occupying Power under international humanitarian law if the partial redeployment envisioned by the "disengagement" plan is implemented.
  • Monitor carefully damage to donor-funded property, projects, or infrastructure in Gaza, and ensure that compensation is paid by Israeli authorities for losses or damage caused in contravention of international law.
  • Insist that Israel compensate donor governments for funds spent on repairing unlawful destruction by the IDF.
  • Fully support programs aimed at ensuring the right to adequate housing of displaced Palestinians.
  • Support the return of Palestinians displaced by unlawful demolitions.
  • High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 should take immediate action, individually and jointly, to ensure respect for the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, including prohibitions on unlawful destruction and collective punishment.
  • Provide technical and material support to strengthen the investigative capacity of the PNA's law enforcement agencies including, if necessary and appropriate, through the temporary secondment of suitably qualified police investigators to work alongside Palestinian officers and to assist them in pursuing and bringing to justice those responsible for attacks against civilians.

To the Government of the United States

  • Demand that the Government of Israel and the PNA take immediate steps to implement the above recommendations in both private and public communications.
  • Restrict Israel's use of Caterpillar D9 armored bulldozers, Apache and Cobra helicopter gunships, and other U.S.-origin weapons systems that are used in the commission of systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
  • Inform the Government of Israel that continued U.S. military assistance requires that the government take clear and measurable steps to halt its security forces' serious and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as documented in this and previous Human Rights Watch reports.[28]These steps should include conducting transparent and impartial investigations into allegations of serious and systematic violations, making the results public, and holding accountable persons found responsible.
  • Inform the PNA that any security assistance from the U.S. requires clear and measurable steps to halt within its power to halt serious and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by its security forces and by Palestinian armed groups, as documented in previous Human Rights Watch reports.[29]
  • Ensure that enforcement of human rights and humanitarian law protections are not made subordinate to the outcomes of direct negotiations between the parties to the conflict.Agreements should be consistent with fundamental human rights and humanitarian norms.

To the Member States of the European Union

  • Demand that the Government of Israel and the PNA take immediate steps to implement the above recommendations in both private and public communications.
  • Consistent with the August 11 declaration of European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson, make clear to Israel that emergency funds for reconstruction in the OPT do not absolve Israel of its responsibilities as an Occupying Power under international humanitarian law.
  • Develop and make public benchmarks for compliance by the government of Israel with international human rights and international law commitments as embedded in Article 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement between the E.U. and its member states and Israel.
  • Implement the European Code of Conduct on Arms Exports and restrict transfer to Israel of weapons found to be used in the commission of serious and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
  • Inform the PNA that any security assistance from the E.U. requires clear and measurable steps to halt within its power to halt serious and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by its security forces and by Palestinian armed groups, as documented in previous Human Rights Watch reports.
  • Ensure that enforcement of human rights and humanitarian law protections are not made subordinate to the outcomes of direct negotiations between the parties to the conflict.

To Caterpillar Inc.

  • Suspend sales of D9 bulldozers, parts, or maintenance services to the IDF pending the implementation of the above recommendations.
  • Seek to ensure that Caterpillar's goods and services will not be used to abuse human rights, in accordance with the U.N. Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights.

[28] See, inter alia, "Israel's 'separation barrier' in the occupied West Bank: Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law consequences" (Human Rights Watch, February 2004), Jenin: IDF Military Operations (Human Rights Watch, May 2002), In a Dark Hour: The Use of Civilians During IDF Arrest Operations (Human Rights Watch, April 2002), Center of the Storm: A Case Study of Human Rights Abuses in Hebron District (Human Rights Watch, April 2001).

[29] See, inter alia, Erased in a Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli Civilians (Human Rights Watch, October 2002) and Justice Undermined: Balancing Security and Human Rights in the Palestinian Justice System (Human Rights Watch, November 2001).