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ABC Mini-Encyclopedia

Palestinian Crimes against Humanity

Amnesty International condemns Palestinian attacks as crimes against humanity

 July 11, 2002

JERUSALEM -- Amnesty International condemned Palestinian suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians Thursday as "crimes against humanity" and unjustified by Palestinian political grievances.

The London-based human rights organization had previously accused Israel of violating Palestinian rights in the Mideast conflict, but the lengthy report focused on the Palestinian violence that amnesty said had killed about 350 Israeli civilians.

"The attacks against civilians by Palestinian armed groups are widespread, systematic and in pursuit of an explicit policy to attack civilians," the Amnesty report said. "They constitute crimes against humanity ... They may also constitute war crimes."

Some Palestinian extremists argue that since most Israelis, both men and women, serve in the military, virtually all Israelis are legitimate targets for attack. Also, many Palestinians claim that Israeli settlers, including women and children, are valid targets because they live in the overwhelmingly Palestinian areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Many bomb attacks have also hit buses or cafes where a small number of uniformed soldiers may be present among a larger group of civilians.

Amnesty said such attacks were unjustified.
"The occasional presence of soldiers among passengers on ordinary commuter buses ... in a cafe or shoppers in a market does not make such venues legitimate targets for attacks," the Amnesty report added.

The Amnesty report said "no violations by the Israeli government, no matter their scale or gravity, justify the killing of ... civilians."

Opinion polls have consistently shown that suicide bombings have strong support among the Palestinian population. In Palestinian public rallies, suicide bombers are glorified as martyrs, with posters of the bombers plastered on walls throughout Palestinian cities and towns.

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