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Human Rights Watch Missions to Israel and Palestinian Areas during the Intifada
Since September 2000, Human Rights Watch has sent six missions to Israel, the Occupied Territories, and areas under the control of the PA, and has documented widespread human rights abuses in the context of the violent clashes.12 Human Rights Watch has consistently made clear that Israeli security forces have been responsible for the most extensive violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including indiscriminate and excessive use of lethal force, extrajudicial killings, and collective punishment. Human Rights Watch has also strongly condemned attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinian gunmen and suicide bombers, and criticized the PA for doing little to halt such attacks.13 Human Rights Watch has called for the deployment of independent international human rights monitors.14

Human Rights Watch visited Israel, the Occupied Territories, and PA areas in August-September 2001 to investigate abuses associated with the Palestinian justice system. The mission visited Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah, and Tulkarem in the West Bank, as well as Gaza City, Khan Yunis, Jabaliya, and Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip. This report does not make reference to any events that took place after October 31, 2001.

Human Rights Watch conducted extensive interviews with released detainees as well as the families of current detainees and those killed by vigilantes for suspected collaboration. Many victims and families feared reprisals, and some would not speak openly at all about their experiences at the hands of the PA security forces. Human Rights Watch met with a number of nongovernmental (NGO) Palestinian human rights organizations, lawyers, journalists, and academics.15 Human Rights Watch also met with the official but independent Palestinian Independent Commission on Citizens' Rights (PICCR), whose mandate includes monitoring respect for human rights by Palestinian public institutions and acting on complaints of abuses received from Palestinians.

Human Rights Watch sought to meet with PA16 and Israeli17 officials. The commanders of the PA Military Intelligence, Preventive Security, and General Intelligence Service (based in Gaza City) declined to meet with Human Rights Watch. Nor was it possible to meet Minister of Justice, Freih Abu Meddein, despite repeated requests. The chief judges of the High Court and the Military Court in the West Bank cancelled meetings previously arranged with Human Rights Watch.

A Note on Categories of Detainees
Palestinians and PA authorities distinguish between three categories of Palestinian detainees. "Security" detainees are those alleged to have "collaborated" with Israel, especially as informants for Israeli security forces and those who have sold Palestinian land to Israelis. "Political" detainees are suspected members of Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and others who are opposed to the Oslo Accords or are otherwise critical of the PA, at times including journalists and human rights defenders. "Criminal" detainees are other detainees accused of committing ordinary criminal offenses without a political motivation. This report will refer to "security," "political" and "criminal" detainees in quotation marks to indicate that the words are used as they are understood in the PA.

12 See for example Human Rights Watch, "Investigation into Unlawful Use of Force in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Northern Israel: October 4 through October 11," A Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 12, No. 3 (E), October 2000; and Human Rights Watch, Center of the Storm.

13 Human Rights Watch, Center of the Storm.

14 See Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, "Israel/Palestinian Authority: International Monitors a Must," press release, July 6, 2001.

15 These included Addameer, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, LAW (The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment), and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG).

16 In the West Bank this included Brigadier General Tawfiq Tirawi, head of General Intelligence on the West Bank; Fateh Sorour, the chief judge of the State Security Court; Qadura Fares, the chairman of the Human Rights and Oversight Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC); and Walid Abu-Ali the head of international relations in the General Intelligence on the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip meetings with officials included Khaled al-Qidra, the state security attorney general; Hamdi Rifi, director of prisons, and Dr. Abd al-Rahman Abu Nasr, chairman of the Palestinian Bar Association.

17 In the Israeli government Human Rights Watch met with Jean-Claude Niddam, the head of Legal Assistance in the Ministry of Justice, and Colonel Anton Ayoub, the Israeli Police's head of the Department for Coordination and Cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.

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