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TITLE: OCCUPIED TERRITORIES HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES This report deals with territories under military occupation, whereas most others in this volume describe practices within sovereign states and deal with the relationship between governments and their own citizens. Israel occupied the lands known as the "occupied territories" (the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem) as a result of the 1967 war. Israel is not recognized internationally to have sovereignty over any of the occupied territories. Israel has, however, asserted sovereignty over and annexed East Jerusalem. The West Bank and Gaza legal regime derives from Ottoman, Jordanian, Egyptian, and British law, as modified by Israeli military orders. Israel has extended its law and administration to the Golan Heights. The United States considers Israel's occupation to be governed by The Hague Regulations of 1907 and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War. Israel considers the Hague Regulations applicable, but not the Geneva Convention, though Israel states that it observes the Geneva Convention's humanitarian provisions. Israel has governed the West Bank and Gaza through the Civil Administration (CIVAD), which is answerable to the Minister of Defense. Most Palestinian municipalities have Israeli- appointed mayors, the majority of elected mayors having been dismissed in the early 1980's. Palestinians have not had the opportunity to participate in significant political or economic decisions regarding the occupied territories, except for East Jerusalem, where Palestinian residents have largely boycotted the Israeli political process. Israeli settlers in the territories (about 5 percent of the population of the territories, exclusive of East Jerusalem) are subject to Israeli law and receive better treatment than Palestinians under military occupation law. Israeli economic policies discriminate in favor of Israeli interests and Israeli settlers in the territories. The security forces in the occupied territories have consisted of the army (Israeli Defense Forces-IDF), the Shin Bet (General Security Service-GSS), the police, and the paramilitary border police. Crimes by Palestinians related to "security," as defined by the authorities, have been tried in military courts. The economies of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are small, poorly developed, and highly dependent on Israel. The West Bank produces many agricultural items and some light manufactured goods. Gaza's economy is more focused on agriculture and depends heavily on earnings from day laborers in Israel. Both economies have suffered from the effects of the occupation, the 6-year-old Palestinian uprising (intifada) against Israeli rule, the Gulf war and resulting cutoff of Arab funding, and the March 29 closure of the occupied territories. The first 5 months of 1993 witnessed a dramatic increase in violence and confrontation. After a series of killings and stabbings of Israeli soldiers and civilians in Israel and the occupied territories during the first 3 months of 1993, the Government on March 29 sealed off indefinitely the West Bank and Gaza from Jerusalem and Israel. While proving an effective measure in curbing Palestinian attacks against Israelis in Israel, closure has severely constricted Palestinians' freedom of movement and has caused a deterioration of economic conditions (see also Sections 2.c. and 2.d.). The closure, which was partially eased later during 1993, does not apply to Israeli citizens, who are not required to obtain special permits to cross into and out of the West Bank and Gaza. On September 13, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed an historic Declaration of Principles on a gradual transfer of authority from Israel to an interim Palestinian self-governing authority. The Declaration lays out a timetable for Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 1994. In addition, the Declaration calls for a redeployment of Israeli security forces away from populated areas in the West Bank by as early as July 1994, which is the target date for election of a Palestinian council and for the dissolution of the Israeli military-backed CIVAD which has administered the occupied territories since 1981. Through this process, Palestinians will also assume early responsibility for functions such as the health sector; educational, cultural, and social welfare affairs; tourism; and taxation. The Palestinians are also to create a Palestinian police force for the occupied territories. Israelis are to continue to control external security, internal security, and public order in Israeli settlements, foreign relations, and certain other areas until an agreement on permanent status is achieved. This historic agreement, when implemented, should fundamentally transform the basic relationship between Palestinians and Israelis. Both Palestinian and Israeli opponents of the Declaration of Principles have attempted to exploit the violence as a means of derailing the agreement. The Palestinian Islamist extremist organizations Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched a number of attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians between September 9 and the end of the year. Armed settlers also blocked roads, harassed Palestinian commuters, destroyed Palestinian property, and fired at unarmed Palestinians. From October through mid-December, six settlers were killed by Palestinians, while eight Palestinians were killed by settlers. As the occupying power, Israel remained obligated under international occupation law to ensure, as far as possible, public order and the safety of the civilian population in the occupied territories. Violence in the occupied territories also included killings of Palestinians by other Palestinians because of alleged collaboration with Israel. All of the 414 Palestinians deported to southern Lebanon in December 1992 because of their alleged association with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were allowed to return in 1993, with the exception of about 15 who chose not to return. Some were then administratively detained. There were credible reports that during 1993 Israel mistreated and, according to those reports, in some cases tortured Palestinians during arrest and interrogation, utilized undercover units implicated in possible extrajudicial killings, ordered administrative detentions, used heavy weaponry to destroy houses in which IDF soldiers believed security suspects to be hiding, limited freedom of movement, employed harsh tax collection practices, and followed discriminatory policies in land and resources use and trade. The longstanding U.S. position is that several Israeli practices, such as the transfer of prisoners outside the occupied territories and the demolition or sealing of houses for security offenses as a form of collective punishment, contravene specific provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Apart from the major development reflected in the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles, there were other improvements in the human rights situation. Israel liberalized its policy on family reunification for residents of the West Bank and Gaza (see Section 2.d.), carried out significantly fewer court-sanctioned demolitions of Palestinian houses (although demolition orders were usually converted to orders for sealings), and used curfews less frequently in the West Bank. The nighttime curfew imposed on Gaza since 1987, however, remained in effect, and general curfews were used extensively throughout the year in Gaza. In October Israel released 617 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture following the signing of the Declaration of Principles. As of the end of the year, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were discussing the timing and numbers of additional releases. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing Credible sources report that undercover units disguised as Palestinians killed 27 Palestinians as of late November. This number represents a significant decrease from the 45 Palestinians reported killed by undercover units in 1992. As in 1992, the task of the undercover units appeared to have been to arrest activists wanted by the authorities for serious crimes. The undercover units also focused on stone-throwers or graffiti-writers. Human rights organizations continued to charge that the undercover units targeted certain activists, in some cases killing suspects under circumstances in which it may have been possible to apprehend them without killing. Israeli authorities acknowledge the operation of special undercover units whose members circulate among Palestinian activists and claim that such units observe standard rules of engagement applicable to other IDF units and that all killings and allegations of misbehavior are investigated. Investigations of abuses by IDF troops are conducted by IDF investigators. These investigations rarely result in imposition of serious punishment. According to the Israeli Government, one investigation into the killing of a child by an undercover unit did result in an undercover unit lieutenant's conviction on charges of negligence. The officer was sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment and was demoted to the rank of sergeant. According to some human rights groups, the General Security Service (GSS) was responsible for at least one extrajudicial killing--the death of Omar Khamis Yusef Al-Ghula, who, according to eyewitnesses, was handcuffed and offering no resistance when he was shot by a security officer on January 27. The Israeli Government states that members of an army patrol shot and killed Al-Ghula, while he was in their custody, when he attempted to draw a handgun. The military prosecutor for Gaza investigated this case. He concluded that the soldiers acted in accordance with the rules of engagement and instructed that the file be closed. Palestinian attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians in 1993 resulted in the deaths of 49 Israelis in the occupied territories, compared to 23 such deaths in 1992. Most deaths were by knifing or gunfire. After a series of killings and stabbings of Israeli soldiers and civilians in Israel and the occupied territories in the first 3 months of the year, the Government sealed off the West Bank and Gaza from Jerusalem and Israel on March 29 for an indefinite period as a means of reducing the number of Palestinian attacks on Israelis. As of mid-December, 79 Palestinians had been killed by other Palestinians, most often because of alleged collaboration with Israeli security services but also because of disputes between political factions or street gangs or because of personal feuds. These killings included Palestinian women accused of collaboration with Israeli authorities, infidelity, or prostitution. (The Government of Israel claims that 139 Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians in 1993.) Sixty-six of these killings took place in Gaza, a dramatic decrease from 149 killings in 1992; in the West Bank, the phenomenon continued a downward trend begun in 1992. During the October to December period, there were credible reports of IDF inaction during several settler attacks, which occurred usually in retaliation for the killing of a settler, on Palestinians and their homes and property. In late December, the IDF appeared to investigate more vigorously two separate incidents in which Palestinians were killed, reportedly by settlers, and it appeared that by the end of the year the IDF had begun taking stronger measures to protect Palestinians from settler attacks. These measures included the provision by the IDF's Judge Advocate General to IDF officers of a 14-page handbook on how to deal with disturbances involving Israeli citizens in the occupied territories. According to that guidance, soldiers were authorized to arrest Israelis if they were breaking the law. Israeli authorities prosecute Palestinians accused of killing other Palestinians as well as those accused of killing Israelis, and, although there is no capital punishment, sentences are severe. Palestinians suspected of killing Israelis and alleged collaborators have been a principal target of undercover unit operations. The Government also prosecutes Israelis accused of killing Palestinians, though sentences given to Israelis are generally much lighter than sentences handed down to Palestinians convicted of killing either Israelis or Palestinians. (See Section 1.e. for additional information on trials; for further discussion of killings, see Section l.g.) b. Disappearance There were no confirmed reports of disappearances. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment As in 1992, international, Israeli, and Palestinian human rights groups and diplomats continued to provide detailed and credible accounts of widespread abuse, which they claim in some cases amounted to torture, of Palestinian and Palestinian- American detainees, both immediately after arrest and during interrogation. According to credible reports, hooding, forced standing or tying up in contorted positions, prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, blows and beatings, confinement in a small space, sleep and food deprivation, threats against the detainee's family, and threats of death were common practice in interrogation facilities. The apparent intent of these practices was to disorient and intimidate prisoners, often with the goal of obtaining confessions or information about third parties. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1992 declared such practices to be violations of the Geneva Convention. In June the Israeli-Palestinian Association of Physicians for Human Rights published a form reportedly used in the interrogation section of Tulkarem Prison in the West Bank. The form requested an examining physician to certify the medical fitness of a detainee for interrogation and specifically asked the doctor to indicate any medical "limitations" by reason of which the prisoner should not be chained, forced to wear a hood, or forced to stand for long periods. Subsequent to the publication of the form, the Israeli Medical Association issued a statement forbidding member physicians to answer such questions. The Government asserts that the form, while considered, was never put into use. Human rights groups believe that IDF and prison service doctors have routinely been called upon to certify prisoners for interrogation, whether or not a specific form is required. Torture is forbidden by Israeli law. Israeli authorities say that torture is not authorized or condoned in the occupied territories but acknowledge that abuses occur and state that they are investigated. In 1987 the Landau Judicial Commission specifically condemned "torture" but allowed for "moderate physical and psychological pressure" to be used to secure confessions and to obtain information; a classified annex to the report defining permissible pressure has never been made public. In a case brought by the Public Committee Against Torture, the Israeli Supreme Court refused to halt the use of "moderate physical pressure." In April the director of the GSS, responding to a petition before the Israeli Supreme Court, presented the court with an affidavit in which he announced amendments to the GSS's policy on interrogation. While the GSS was to continue to adhere to principles contained in the Landau Commission Report, he listed the following activities as prohibited: torture and humiliation, denial of food, water, and access to a toilet; and subjecting a detainee to extreme temperatures. Interrogators were required to proceed in steps, starting with "psychological pressure" and moving on to "additional pressure methods" in accordance with regulations. Human rights groups assert that despite these announced changes in policy, there was no perceivable difference in treatment of suspects under interrogation. The Israeli Ministry of Justice established two units in 1992 to investigate allegations of misconduct by police and GSS officers, including ill-treatment of detainees during interrogation. As of late November, 61 complaints of maltreatment during interrogation had been filed against GSS interrogators during 1993. Investigations into most of those complaints had not yet been completed. The Government claims that during 1993 unspecified legal or disciplinary measures had been taken in 13 cases, approximately half of which had been initiated prior to 1993. In 1993 six Palestinians died in detention, four from what appeared to be natural causes. Human rights groups claim, however, that lack of prompt and adequate medical attention while in detention in at least three cases aggravated the medical conditions of those three prisoners. The Israeli Government states that all of these prisoners received medical examinations, and none complained of chronic ailments. According to credible sources, one detainee, a 23-year-old from Gaza, was denied medical attention for smoke inhalation for at least 3 days after his arrest. A second case was an apparent suicide. Most convictions in security cases are based on confessions. An attorney is normally not allowed to see a client until after interrogation is complete and a confession, if obtained, has been made. The ICRC is not allowed access to detainees until the 14th day after arrest. Human rights groups point to this prolonged incommunicado detention as contributing to the problem of abuse. Detainees frequently tell judges that confessions were coerced. Human rights groups assert that Palestinian detainees often fail to lodge complaints either from fear of retribution or because they assume their complaints will be ignored. Charges of beatings and physical abuse by Israeli security forces continued in 1993. The IDF says that it investigates automatically every fatality but that it does not routinely investigate nonfatal violent incidents unless a complaint is made. According to the IDF, from January 1 to September 1 there were 11 indictments against 24 soldiers and officers for "intifada-related offenses." Twelve soldiers were convicted while none were acquitted. Five indictments are still pending. No information was provided as to the sentences in these cases. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile As of the end of 1993, a total of 9,573 Palestinians were incarcerated in IDF (5,308) and prison service facilities. Of those, roughly 68 percent had been tried and were serving sentences, 29.6 percent were awaiting charges or trial, and 2.3 percent were detained administratively, i.e., sentenced to a specific period of detention without formal charge or trial. In October Israel released 617 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture following the signing of the Declaration of Principles. At the end of the year, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were discussing the timing and numbers of additional releases. Since the beginning of the intifada in late 1987, Israel has routinely transferred Palestinian prisoners from the occupied territories to detention facilities within Israel, especially to the Ketziot camp in the Negev desert and Megiddo prison near Afula. This practice, which continued in 1993, contravenes Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Estimates of the number of Palestinian residents of the occupied territories incarcerated within Israel range up to 7,000. In late 1993, there were indications that Palestinian prisoners were being transferred from detention centers in Gaza to facilities in Israel prior to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza scheduled to begin on December 13. The use of administrative detention for alleged security reasons without formal charges or a full opportunity for detainees to defend themselves continued in 1993. As of October, 277 Palestinians were held in administrative detention, compared to 520 held at the end of 1992. Detention periods are for a maximum of 6 months and are renewable. Evidence used at hearings frequently is declared secret and unavailable to either the detainee or his attorney. Israeli officials state that administrative detention is used only when IDF legal advisors have determined that there is sufficient evidence to detain a person and that the evidence has been corroborated by two sources. They assert, however, that the evidence cannot be presented in open court because to do so would compromise the method of acquiring the evidence, which is often provided by informers whose lives would be jeopardized if their identities were known. Human rights monitors contend that administrative detention is often used when evidence against a suspect would not stand up in court. District military commanders may order administrative detention without formal charges. Detainees may appeal detention orders or renewal of detention before a military judge. Attorneys may question security service witnesses concerning the general nature of that evidence. The Supreme Court may review rulings by military judges and may examine secret evidence. Any soldier may arrest without warrant a person who has committed, or is suspected of having committed, a criminal or security offense. Persons over age 12 are treated as adults by the court system. Persons arrested for common crimes are usually provided the opportunity for bail, access to an attorney, and a statement of charges (although these opportunities are sometimes delayed). Bail is rarely available to those arrested for security offenses. Special summonses are reportedly issued to Palestinians wanted by authorities for security reasons. Israeli Military Order 1369 allows authorities to sentence to 7 years' imprisonment any person who does not respond to a special summons that is delivered to him or a family member or is posted in the Civil Administration office nearest his home address. Persons may be held in custody without a warrant for 96 hours and then must be released unless a warrant is issued. A warrant may be issued by a police officer for two periods of 7 days each. For extensions beyond 18 days from the date of arrest, the detainee has to be brought before a military judge, at which point he is entitled to defense counsel. In 1992 Israeli authorities shortened this period to 8 days for minors and those accused of less serious offenses (such as stone throwing). A military judge may extend the detention for a period of no longer than 6 months from the date of arrest. If there is no indictment during this period, the detainee must be released. If there is an indictment, a judge may order indefinite detention until the end of the trial, though the detention may be appealed. In theory a detainee has the right to see a lawyer as soon as possible. In the cases of security detainees, however, officers routinely issue a written order to delay access to counsel for up to 15 days for reasons of security or to conduct the investigation. Higher ranking officials or judges may extend this period by up to 75 more days for the same reasons. In June the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to consult a lawyer required the Government not only to inform a detainee of his right but also to advise the detainee of any orders preventing him from seeing a lawyer. Israeli regulations also permit prisoners to be held in isolation from family and from other detainees during interrogation. Israeli authorities claim that they attempt to post notification of arrest within 48 hours; Palestinians assert that families and lawyers are normally notified much later and generally locate the detainee through their own efforts. Notification to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General of detained Palestinian-American citizens has almost always been through the family. The ICRC attempts to help by passing on to families (by telephone) the information it receives from Israeli prison officials. A senior officer may extend for up to 12 days denial of notification of arrest to immediate family members, attorneys, and consular officials. A military commander may appeal to a judge to extend this period in security cases for an unlimited time. The Israeli authorities acted in a number of areas to improve prison conditions in the occupied territories after Palestinian prisoners staged an 18-day hunger strike in September and October 1992 to protest prison conditions. Implementation of the specific measures, however, was not uniform throughout all detention facilities. In August 1993, prisoners at Hebron prison staged a hunger strike to protest lack of water for toilet and bathing facilities. The Israeli Supreme Court agreed to consider a petition presented by the prisoners but, as of October, the case had not been resolved. In the meantime, Israeli authorities reportedly agreed to truck in water supplies to meet prisoner needs. In September the Association of Israeli-Palestinian Physicians petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to close the Ketziot Military Detention Camp in Israel because of "inferior conditions of imprisonment." The petition argued that the conditions at the camp, which reportedly houses 4,900 Palestinian security detainees, violated the Geneva Convention. Overcrowding (26 inmates to a tent), inferior diet, lack of adequate medical care, and lack of arrangements for religious worship were cited as key problems. At the end of the year, Ketziot camp was still in use. According to the IDF Judge Advocate General, the IDF has been granted a postponement to study the report of an advisory panel. Consideration of the case by the Supreme Court has been postponed until March 1994. In December 1992, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 799, which called for the immediate return of 415 Palestinians who had been deported to South Lebanon earlier that month because of their alleged association with Hamas--the Islamic Resistance Movement and the largest Islamist organization in the occupied territories--and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Israel agreed in March to a two-phase plan to return the deportees. In September 186 deportees returned from the edge of the Israeli-declared security zone in South Lebanon where they had been camped since December 1992. Upon their return, the deportees were investigated by the Israeli authorities, and some were freed while others were placed in administrative detention. In mid-December, the remaining deportees returned except for about 15 deportees who reportedly elected to remain outside the occupied territories to avoid imprisonment. Like those who had returned in September, the 197 who returned in December were subject to interrogation and investigation. As of the end of the year, approximately 65 remained in detention. In addition to the deportees in southern Lebanon, Israel allowed 30 pre-intifada deportees to return to the occupied territories in May as a confidence building measure. Among those who returned was one former West Bank mayor elected in 1976 and later deported to Jordan. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial Palestinians accused of nonsecurity offenses are tried publicly in local courts by Palestinian judges appointed by Israeli officials, except where jurisdiction has been transferred by military order. Since the beginning of the uprising, local administration of justice has deteriorated seriously. At the beginning of the intifada in December 1987, the intifada leadership ordered Palestinian police and judges to resign. Since then, Palestinian courts have functioned sporadically. Palestinians accused of security offenses are tried in Israeli military courts. Security offenses are broadly defined by Israel and may include charges of political activity, such as suspected membership in outlawed organizations. Following the exchange of letters of recognition between Israel and the PLO, membership in the mainstream Fatah organization ceased to be considered a "security offense" by the Israeli authorities. Charges are brought by military prosecutors, and suspects are entitled to counsel. Serious charges are tried before three-judge panels, and defendants are entitled to appeal the judgments of such courts as a matter of right. Lesser offenses are tried before single-judge courts. The Court of Military Appeals may accept appeals of decisions by those courts based on the law applied in the case, the sentence imposed, or both. The right of appeal does not apply in all cases, and appeals sometimes require court permission. In practice, it is rare for Palestinians tried for security offenses to be acquitted, though their sentences sometimes are reduced through the appeal process. Trials are delayed for several reasons: witnesses (including Israeli military or police officers) do not appear; the defendant is not brought to court; files are lost; or attorneys fail to appear. These delays may constitute an additional source of pressure on the defendant to plead guilty in order to avoid serving a period of pretrial detention that would exceed the sentence likely to apply in the context of a plea bargain. In cases involving minor offenses, such as stone throwing, an "expedited" trial may be held, in which a charge sheet is drawn up within 48 hours and a court hearing scheduled within days. In 1993 the IDF reported that approximately two-thirds of detainees in military prisons had completed their trials. By law, most military trials are public, although access is limited. Consular officers are allowed to attend military court proceedings involving foreign citizens, but there have been delays in gaining admission. Most convictions in military courts are based on confessions. Israeli officials assert that Palestinians rarely cooperate as witnesses to crimes, refusing to deal with Israeli authorities. Physical and psychological pressures and reduced sentences for those who confess contribute to the likelihood that security detainees will sign confessions. Confessions are usually recorded in Hebrew, which many defendants cannot read. Israeli authorities say that confessions are made by and repeated to the defendant in Arabic, although they are written down in Hebrew because, while many Israeli court personnel speak Arabic, few write it. Crowded facilities and poor arrangements for attorney-client consultations in prisons hinder effective legal defense efforts. Palestinian attorneys report that appointments to see clients are difficult to arrange and that prison authorities often fail to produce clients when scheduled. In addition, prison authorities often limit the time available to meet with clients. Israeli settlers in the occupied territories accused of security and ordinary criminal offenses are tried in the nearest Israeli district court under Israeli law. Civilian judges preside over these courts, and standards of due process and admissibility of evidence are not governed by military occupation law. Settlers convicted in Israeli courts of crimes against Palestinians regularly receive lighter punishment than Palestinians convicted of crimes against either Israelis or other Palestinians. In 1992 an amendment to Israel's penal law provided greater discretion in sentencing for cases of self-defense or necessity where a defendant has used excessive force. Palestinians raised concerns that this might result in unjustifiably lenient sentences for Israeli settlers who use force. As of October, however, the Israel state attorney's office was unaware of any cases in which that amendment had been applied. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence Military authorities in the occupied territories may enter private Palestinian homes and institutions without a warrant on security grounds. Authorization by an officer of the rank of lieutenant colonel is required prior to entry. Forced entries are used in IDF operations and are sometimes accompanied by beatings and destruction of property, including foodstuffs. Undercover units have engaged in destructive and violent behavior during searches, as well as harassment of families of wanted Palestinians. Israeli authorities claim that forced entry may lawfully occur only incident to arrest when entry is resisted, that beatings and arbitrary destruction of property during searches are punishable violations of military regulations, and that compensation is due to victims in such cases. The Government did not provide information regarding such compensation. In 1993 the security authorities sealed 27 houses for security reasons, a decline from 33 sealed in 1992. Indicating the continuation of a policy begun in 1992, the Israeli Government reports, and some human rights groups agree, that no houses were ordered demolished for security reasons in 1993. Other credible sources, however, believe that three house demolitions which occurred during 1993 were ordered for security reasons, not because of building permit violations or during military operations. Using bulldozers and other construction equipment, security forces may demolish or seal the home of a suspect, whether he is the owner or only a tenant, before any trial is held. The final decision to seal or demolish a house is made by a number of high-level Israeli officials, including the coordinator of the Civil Administration. Owners of houses ordered to be demolished have 48 hours to appeal to the area commander, and final appeals may be made to the High Court. A successful appeal generally results in the conversion of a demolition order to sealing. When a house is demolished, the land on which it sits is confiscated by the Israeli authorities, and the house owner is not allowed to rebuild or even remove the rubble. Israeli authorities say there is a formal procedure whereby owners may apply to regional military commanders for permits to rebuild or unseal, but this procedure is rarely used. The Israeli Government did allow two homes to be rebuilt after being demolished, and four homes were permitted to be opened after being previously sealed. The Government reports that 10 houses in Gaza and 10 in the West Bank were sealed in 1993. During 1993, the IDF continued the practice of using various heavy weapons, including rockets, to destroy houses in which soldiers believed security suspects to be hiding (see Section 1.g.). The security services sometimes monitor mail and telephone conversations. The authorities sometimes interrupt telephone service to specific areas. g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts Estimates vary on the number of casualties caused by use of excessive force in the occupied territories. Figures compiled from press, Palestinian, international organizations, and Israeli government sources indicate that a total of 184 Palestinians were killed by security forces in 1993, compared to 158 in 1992. Estimates of the numbers of Palestinians wounded vary; the number could be as high as 4,120. IDF figures report approximately 890 Palestinians were injured as of September 1 by the security services. Forty-nine Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed by Palestinians in 1993 in the occupied territories, and estimates of Israelis wounded were about 366. Extremists associated with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were responsible for many of the lethal attacks on Israelis. After May it appeared that both the security forces and Palestinian activists pursued less confrontational policies in order to reduce violent clashes. The killing of an Israeli settler near Ramallah in October began a cycle of killings and reprisals which had not ended as of late December. Many of the IDF observation posts erected in camps and cities throughout Gaza, which had provoked violence, were removed in August. Of the total number of Palestinians killed, the Israeli human rights group B'tselem estimates that 37 were children aged 16 or under, 33 of whom were killed between January and June. Many of these children were involved in demonstrations or were near the sites of confrontations or incidents at the time they were shot. In July, however, a soldier reportedly shot 10-year-old Ezzat Mattar while the boy was flying a kite in an open field. In a June report on IDF killings of Palestinian children under age 16, B'tselem charged that the IDF pursued a deliberate policy of opening fire in situations in which soldiers were not in mortal danger. Citing the IDF's rules of engagement for dispersing demonstrations and pursuing suspects which allow, in the last resort, use of live fire, B'tselem declared that "the many instances in which Palestinians in the territories have been killed by soldiers...are unequivocal proof of the danger inherent in such orders and of the need to change them." B'tselem acknowledged that the IDF had no deliberate policy to kill children but contended that "in hundreds of instances security forces had the option of refraining from shooting, at the risk of having suspects (the vast majority are demonstrators or stone-throwers) escape, in order to ensure that innocent people would not be hurt." In its response to the B'tselem report, the IDF stated that soldiers were under orders to act with the greatest care in dealing with "riots" in which women and children participated and noted that opening-fire regulations prohibited shooting at children. Children were injured, the IDF said, because they were near or among rioters or armed terrorists who endangered the lives of IDF soldiers. The IDF statement attributed the increase in deaths to the escalation of violence in the first half of 1993. Until April IDF regulations permitted the use of live ammunition only when soldiers' lives were in immediate danger, to halt fleeing suspects, or to disperse a violent demonstration. In April the IDF issued an amendment to those regulations permitting the use of live fire on an "individual unlawfully carrying firearms." Palestinians asserted, and the Government of Israel denied, that this modification ipso facto allowed soldiers to open fire on anyone carrying a firearm. It was not clear how soldiers were to determine if an individual was authorized to carry a firearm. According to IDF policy, soldiers are to direct fire at the legs only and at a fleeing suspect only if they suspect a serious felony and have exhausted other means of apprehending the suspect. In practice, however, uniformed soldiers, police, and undercover units used live fire in situations other than those described above (see Section l.a.) and often shot suspects in the upper body and head. Uniformed soldiers, police, and undercover units also injured many bystanders (including children) by live fire, rubber bullets, or beatings while pursuing suspects. During 1993 the IDF continued the practice of using various heavy weapons, including rockets, to destroy houses in which soldiers believed security suspects to be hiding. These demolitions took place almost exclusively in Gaza. Although the IDF stated that no figures were available on the number of houses damaged in these operations, human rights groups count up to 220 houses or apartments either destroyed or partially damaged by the IDF in the course of military operations in pursuit of suspects. Israel defended this practice as a necessary military operation and a measure to save the lives of Israeli soldiers. The Israelis assert that the operations were based on intelligence received that certain suspects were in the reported places. In practice, IDF units regularly evacuated houses in which they believed suspects to be hiding and then fired rockets into the buildings. In several instances, no suspects were found in the houses. Since late 1992, 177 Palestinian claims have been filed for damages to homes by the security forces. Sixty claims have already been settled to the sum of approximately $500,000 (one and a half million NIS). On a number of occasions, security forces forcibly removed Palestinian suspects undergoing medical treatment from hospitals or prohibited Palestinians in need of medical care from crossing roadblocks or going out during curfews. The Israeli Government asserts that a patient is removed only after a doctor certifies a patient is fit for transfer; the transfer must be made with a doctor present. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Israeli authorities impose some restrictions on freedom of speech. Israel prohibits, for example, public expressions of support for Muslim extremist groups, such as Hamas, and other banned organizations. For most of the year, the display of Palestinian political symbols, such as flags, national colors, and graffiti was punishable by stiff fines (usually the equivalent of $150-300 for graffiti), or imprisonment. Security forces often forced Palestinians to erase graffiti found on their property, regardless of whether they were responsible for it. Since September, after Israel and the PLO signed the Declaration of Principles on the transfer of authority, Israeli authorities have generally permitted displays of the Palestinian flag or national colors, although there has been no formal change of policy. The Israeli authorities impose restrictions on the Arabic press, citing security reasons. Arabic-language publications in East Jerusalem must submit to the military authorities for prior censorship all copy relating to the security, public order, and safety of Israel and the occupied territories. Many reports and editorials related to the uprising and Palestinian political goals were permitted, but other articles and editorials were routinely expurgated. Arabic translations of news stories about the intifada, which had previously appeared in the Hebrew-language press, were routinely censored from the Arabic press. A permit is required for publications imported into the occupied territories. Imported materials may be censored or banned for anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli content. According to the Government, publications supporting Palestinian nationalism are not censored or banned unless they advocate violence. Possession of banned materials, such as uprising leaflets espousing violence, is punishable by fine and imprisonment. Reports by foreign journalists are subject to a system of self-regulation. No broadcast media originate from the occupied territories. Jordanian radio and television is broadcast throughout the occupied territories. Israeli authorities continued to close individual secondary and elementary schools for short periods, citing security problems emanating from the schools. In addition, strike days called by Palestinian activists continue to cause students to lose a few days of school each month. In contrast, Palestinian universities generally operated normally for the first time since the intifada began in 1987. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Military orders ban public gatherings of 10 or more people without a permit. Until September, when Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people, Palestinian political parties and other groups, including some labor unions viewed as political, were banned. However, student and professional associations have been allowed to operate and hold democratic elections. Since the signing of the Declaration of Principles in September, Israeli authorities have permitted large-scale rallies in support of the agreement in a number of towns. The authorities also permitted several rallies organized by opponents of the agreement. Private organizations are required to register with the authorities, though some operate without licenses. Israeli authorities permitted Palestinian charitable, community, professional, and self-help organizations to operate unless their activities were viewed as overtly political or supporting the uprising. c. Freedom of Religion Freedom of religion is respected, and no group or sect is banned on religious grounds. Muslim and Christian holy days are observed, as are Jewish holy days in Jerusalem and the settlements. All faiths operate schools and institutions. Religious publications circulate subject to the laws for publications described in Section 2.a. After the occupied territories were sealed off in March, Muslim and Christian Palestinians who wanted to visit or attend services at holy places in Jerusalem were often unable to obtain permits to enter the city. While some Palestinians were allowed to travel by bus from the West Bank directly and only to the Haram as-Sharif (where the al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques are located), authorities often restricted access by male worshipers under a certain age. In April many Palestinian Christians protested the closure of Jerusalem, which prevented their attending Easter Rites at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. While some congregations refused to apply for permits, claiming it would establish a precedent for Israeli control over holy sites, other Christians did apply and found that their applications were denied or delayed. Various sources alleged that Israeli police interfered with passing of the "holy fire," one of the most important rituals of the Greek Orthodox Church during the Easter season, by extinguishing lanterns that worshipers at checkpoints were using to pass the flame among themselves. Israeli authorities also banned West Bankers and Gazans (even those with permits) from entering Jerusalem on several major Jewish holidays, citing this as a precautionary security measure. These restrictions were not applied to Jewish settlers in the occupied territories. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Occupied Territories, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation The escalation in violence both in the occupied territories and inside Israel during the first 3 months of 1993 led the Government to seal off indefinitely the West Bank and Gaza from Jerusalem and Israel on March 29. By inhibiting the free movement of goods and people, the closure caused deterioration in economic conditions in the occupied territories and disrupted patterns of religious, educational, cultural, and family life as well as access to medical care. The March 29 closure constitutes the longest period during which the Israeli security forces have employed this measure, which was first used in 1991. Closure severely constricted Palestinians' freedom of movement between the West Bank and East Jerusalem, between the northern and southern sections of the West Bank, and between Gaza and the rest of the occupied territories. As during previous periods of closure, any Palestinian wishing to enter Jerusalem or Israel must obtain a special permit issued by the Civil Administration. Any Palestinian found in Jerusalem without such a permit is subject to a fine (usually the equivalent of about $160) or arrest. Because most main roads pass through Jerusalem, closure effectively divides the West Bank into two parts, with the result that Palestinians from the north may not travel to the south without special permission, and vice versa. In addition, Gazans may only travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank if they are able to obtain permits. The closure had a serious effect on the economy of the occupied territories. Of the 120,000 Palestinians who prior to March 29 worked in Jerusalem or Israel, only about half had received permits to resume their employment by year's end. Palestinian factories in the occupied territories, having lost their markets in Jerusalem and Israel, were unable to pay their workers. Unemployment rates in the West Bank were estimated at 25 percent before closure and are now estimated at 40 percent. Palestinian businesses and institutions in Jerusalem suffered because their West Bank clients were unable to enter the city. The IDF states that the number of Palestinian workers who have been issued permits since closure (about 52,000), added to the number of Palestinians exempt from the permit requirement who work in Jerusalem (15,000), is roughly equal to the number of Palestinians (70,000) who had been legally permitted to work in Israel and Jerusalem before March 29. The IDF maintains that only Palestinians who had been working illegally in Israel and Jerusalem lost their employment. After closure, however, the Israeli Government significantly reduced the number of permits issued to unskilled Palestinian day laborers allowed to work in Israel or Jerusalem. Permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel were valid for periods varying from a few hours to 3 months. Permits were denied for a variety of reasons, including security concerns and nonpayment of taxes. As of October, the CIVAD had issued 268,309 temporary permits of varying duration for various purposes to Palestinians from the occupied territories who were not employed in Israel or Jerusalem. In April Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups issued a joint statement in which they condemned the closure. The statement described closure as an illegal collective punishment of the population of the occupied territories and as "disproportionate to any legitimate security concern." As noted in Section 2.c., many Muslim and Christian Palestinians were denied the right to worship at holy places associated with their faith because of closure. The closure also affected the movement of health care personnel and prevented or slowed the provision of health care services to some emergency and critically ill patients in the West Bank and Gaza strip. In October Israel eased certain restrictions on access to Jerusalem as a "goodwill gesture." At the end of the year, Palestinians employed in the city, women over 25, men over 50, and children under 16 accompanied by a parent were the categories of individuals not required to present permits. All Palestinians entering Jerusalem, however, were still required to stop at checkpoints and present either their permits or identification proving they were exempt from the permit requirement. Israeli authorities also continued to issue "green" identity cards, which identified the bearer as a security risk and precluded travel in or through Jerusalem, as well as travel abroad. "Green" cards generally were valid for 6 months, renewable indefinitely. The issuance of such cards, like administrative detention, is a form of punishment without formal charge or trial. The Israeli authorities continued to impose curfews and military closures as security controls in 1993. Curfews were more frequent in villages and refugee camps than in urban areas but occurred less frequently in the West Bank than in previous years. Curfews were still used extensively in Gaza in 1993, including the continued imposition of a night-time curfew in effect since 1987. Human rights groups criticized the prolonged curfews, which do not apply to Israeli settlers, as a form of collective punishment. All Palestinians need permits, which require several clearances, in order to travel outside the occupied territories, and Israeli authorities have imposed travel restrictions on certain political activists. However, thousands of Palestinians in the occupied territories travel abroad each year. In 1991 Israeli authorities announced that bridge-crossing permits to Jordan could be obtained at post offices without a screening process. In July Israel announced that the requirement for Palestinian males crossing the bridge into Jordan to remain out of the occupied territories for 9 months no longer applied to men above the age of 25. The requirement remained in effect, however, for Palestinian males between the ages of 16 and 25. In late 1993, Jordan tightened restrictions on entry, with the result that Palestinians granted permission to travel by Israeli authorities were sometimes denied permission to enter Jordan. Obstacles to emigration include the inability to obtain a travel permit and the fear of losing residency. Restrictions on residence, tourist visas, reentry, and family reunification have applied only to Palestinians resident in the occupied territories. Israel sometimes refuses to renew laissez-passers of Palestinians from the occupied territories who live or work abroad, on the grounds that they have abandoned their residence, even though they may not have acquired foreign citizenship. Palestinians who obtain foreign citizenship ordinarily are not allowed to resume residence in the occupied territories; those who acquire the right to residence elsewhere or who remain outside the occupied territories for over 3 years are often not permitted to resume residence. They are permitted to return only as tourists and sometimes are denied entry entirely. These restrictions do not apply to Israeli settlers resident in the occupied territories. Israeli authorities have limited family reunification for demographic, political, and economic reasons. Most Palestinians who were abroad during the 1967 war (estimated to be one-fourth of the Palestinian population at that time) or who have lost their residence permits for other reasons are not permitted to return to reside permanently with their families. Permanent residency permission or family reunification has usually been denied to foreign-born spouses and children born in the occupied territories to nonresident mothers, although they were generally allowed to reside as temporary residents with renewable permits. In August the Israeli Government announced a change in its policy on family reunifications. Following the presentation by human rights groups of a series of petitions to the Israeli Supreme Court, Israel decided to expand its policy on family reunification for residents of the West Bank and Gaza by offering to consider the cases of 6,000 immediate family members who had arrived and applied for visitors' visas between June 1990 and November 1992. As of the end of August, the Israeli authorities had considered 3,249 applications from residents of the West Bank and Gaza for family reunification, of which they had approved 723 and denied 861. Still pending were 1,781 applications, including 116 held over from previous years. Israel also announced it would consider 2,000 new cases annually, allowing the return of up to 5,000 persons. However, immediate family members of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem were excluded from the new policy. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government The people of the occupied territories do not enjoy this right. Israel's Ministry of Defense has ruled the West Bank and Gaza through a military government and civil administration. The Government of Israel has not recognized the right of Palestinians to participate in policy decisions concerning land and resource use and planning, taxation, trade, and industry. Israeli authorities have permitted some Palestinian municipalities, which have approved town plans, to issue building permits within their boundaries. Municipal elections were last held in 1976 in the West Bank; most mayors elected then were later dismissed. Palestinians appointed by Israel have filled most vacancies. On September 13, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a Declaration of Principles on a transfer of authority from Israel to an interim Palestinian authority. The Declaration lays out a timetable for Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip and Jericho, scheduled to be completed in early 1994. In addition, the declaration calls for the redeployment of Israeli security forces away from populated areas in the West Bank by as early as July 1994, which is the target date for the election of a Palestinian council, and for the dissolution thereafter of the Israeli military-backed Civilian Administration (CIVAD), which has administered the occupied territories. Through this process, Palestinians will also assume early responsibility for governmental functions such as the health sector; educational, cultural, and social welfare affairs; tourism; and taxation. The Palestinians will also create a Palestinian police force for the occupied territories. Israel is to continue to control external security as well as security and public order in Israeli settlements, foreign relations, and certain other areas until an agreement on permanent status is achieved. Although Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem has not been recognized internationally, East Jerusalem is governed as part of Israel. Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are permitted to vote in Israeli municipal elections but have largely boycotted them. No Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem sits on the city council. In the November municipal election less than 7 percent of Jerusalem's Palestinian population voted. According to the Declaration of Principles, negotiations on the final status of Jerusalem are scheduled to start by 1996. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights Many local groups--Israeli, Palestinian, and mixed--monitor human rights. Israeli authorities permit their publications and statements to circulate in the occupied territories, and they are allowed to hold press conferences. Some Palestinian human rights workers encountered administrative obstacles to their work in 1993, such as denial of permits to enter Jerusalem (where their offices are located) after the occupied territories were sealed off in March. Although Israel normally permits international human rights groups to visit the occupied territories, Israel declined to accept the visit of the U.N. Human Rights Commission Special Rapporteur for the occupied territories. The Government stated that while Israel has always been open to individuals, groups, and representatives of organizations concerned with human rights, Israel was being asked to comply with a decision of a body to which, unlike every other U.N. member state, Israel cannot be elected because it is not a member of any regional group. Israel generally cooperates with human rights organizations, and officials are generally available for meetings on human rights issues. Some of these organizations, however, find that Israel's responses are inadequate. Not all inquiries receive answers, and some groups' requests for meetings with officials or access to detention facilities are denied. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status Women Palestinian women living under military occupation face similar human rights problems as do men in their contact with Israeli authorities. In addition, many Palestinian women face poverty, lack of education, and social repression. Palestinian society is only now coming to recognize the problem of violence against women. A major difficulty in dealing with this highly sensitive issue is lack of resources: women's organizations are working to raise consciousness and provide help and intervention when needed, but funds are not available for shelters or centers. The CIVAD has made no significant attempt to relieve the situation, and Palestinian social institutions have so far failed to focus on the issue. Palestinians are governed by a mixture of Jordanian and Egyptian law, British mandate law, and Israeli military regulations. There are no laws guaranteeing women's rights in the workplace. Palestinian women often work outside the home and are prominent in many professions, including medicine, law, and teaching. Personal status law for Palestinians is based on religious law. For Muslim Palestinians, personal status law is derived from Shari'a (Islamic) law. Women have certain rights regarding marriage and divorce, inheritance, property ownership, and children. Many women's rights activists believe, however, that many women are not aware of their rights and often fail to demand what is guaranteed to them by law. Women's rights groups are active throughout the occupied territories, dealing traditionally with social issues (children, health, education) but have more recently begun to venture out into practical training, women's rights education, advocacy work, and political activism. The major concern of women's groups is that women who have contributed significantly to Palestinian political efforts will be relegated to traditional roles in the interim period. Children There is no pattern of societal abuse of children. Palestinian children have, however, probably suffered disproportionately from the effects of military occupation and the intifada. Since the uprising began in 1987, schools, which are often overcrowded and underfunded, have been subject to frequent closings by both the Israeli authorities and by Palestinian activists enforcing strikes. Political tensions and lack of funding have closed most of the few sports and recreation facilities that existed for children. Encouraged by political rhetoric and the example of older siblings, children have been drawn into street violence and have frequently provoked it by throwing stones. During 1993, credible sources report that 37 children (aged 16 and under) were killed by Israeli security forces. While some had been involved in demonstrations or rock-throwing incidents, others had been merely in the vicinity of clashes when killed. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities Under the dual system of governance applied to Palestinians and Israelis, Palestinians are treated less favorably than Israeli settlers on a broad range of issues, including the right to due process, residency rights, freedom of movement, sale of crops and goods, land and water use, and access to health and social services. Since the occupied territories were sealed off in March, Muslim and Christian Palestinians have often been denied access to holy places associated with their faith, while the same restrictions have not applied to Jewish settlers (see Section 2.c.). Israeli settlers involved in security violations have been treated far more leniently than Palestinians guilty of similar offenses. Offenses against Israelis are investigated and prosecuted more vigorously than offenses against Palestinians. Some Israeli agriculture and manufacturing are protected against Palestinian competition from the territories, whereas all markets in the territories are open to Israelis. Significant disparities exist between personal income taxes levied on Palestinians versus Israeli settlers. Despite tax reforms that took effect in January 1992, the minimum taxable income applied to Israelis and Palestinians differs markedly: while an Israeli pays no tax if his monthly income is below about $1,000, Palestinians are liable for taxes on any monthly income in excess of about $250. Corporate tax breaks available to Israeli business people in settlements are not applicable to Palestinians. Harsh tax enforcement practices, including raids at night backed by Israeli soldiers, are used against Palestinians who attempt to avoid paying taxes. Tax raids directed at businesses and individuals typically involve teams of tax inspectors, backed by soldiers, who confiscate movable property and cash. Tax raids frequently result in the temporary confiscation of identity cards as well. According to the Declaration of Principles, direct tax authority over non-Israelis will pass to the Palestinian authority once the agreement is implemented. As of the end of the year, transfer of that authority and other powers had not yet been agreed. People with Disabilities There is no mandated provision of accessibility for the disabled in the occupied territories. While some Palestinian institutions for the care and training of disabled persons exist, they generally suffer from chronic underfunding. This sector has received little attention from Israel. Section 6 Worker Rights The applicable sections for West Bank and Gaza Palestinians working in Israel are contained in the country report for Israel. a. The Right of Association The labor law in the West Bank is Jordanian Law No. 21 of 1965, as amended by military orders. It permits workers to join unions without government authorization. It also permits formation of unions by any group of 20 or more workers from the same trade or workplace, with prior government authorization. Nevertheless, Israeli authorities in the West Bank require all proposed new unions to apply for a permit. During 1993 two new unions were formed, but no new unions were licensed by the authorities. Israeli authorities have licensed 31 unions out of approximately 125 unions functioning in the West Bank. The labor law in Gaza is Egyptian Military Order No. 331, which supplements the prior British Mandate labor law and which has been amended by Israeli military orders. It allows the organization of unions on a workplace or craft basis. Since 1979, unions have been permitted to operate under strictly enforced restrictions that permit only the 6 unions that existed in 1967 to function in Gaza, under an umbrella organization. Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are governed by the same law as workers in Israel and are free to establish their own labor unions. The Israeli authorities officially bar East Jerusalem unions from joining the West Bank trade union federations, though this restriction has not been enforced. Individual Palestinian workers in East Jerusalem may belong to both local unions, some of which are affiliated with a West Bank federation, and the Israeli Histadrut Labor Federation. West Bank unions are not affiliated with the Israeli Histadrut Labor Federation. Palestinian workers who are not resident in Israel or East Jerusalem are prevented by government order from being full members of Histadrut. Nevertheless, all legal Palestinian workers in Israel are required to contribute an agency fee of 1 percent of their wages to Histadrut. Palestinian workers also are required to contribute to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) which provides worker benefits, e.g., unemployment, old age, maternity, and disability from occupational accidents. Palestinian workers are not eligible for all NIS benefits. (Israeli authorities maintain that the Palestinians receive tax allowances and benefits through CIVAD investment programs which adequately compensate Palestinian workers.) The 1993 International Labor Organization (ILO) Director General's report noted that: "Contrary to what is maintained by the Israeli authorities, there is not a country in the world that excludes such a high number of workers living outside its territory from full social protection--which is paid for by workers and employers--solely on the grounds that their place of residence is outside the national territory." The great majority of West Bank unions belong to either the General Federation of Trade Unions in the West Bank (GFTU) or the General Federation of Trade Unions in the West Bank - Workers' Unity Bloc (WUB). Membership in the West Bank unions was estimated at 100,000 in 1992, but deteriorating economic conditions and the closure of the occupied territories significantly reduced union membership in 1993. According to the 1993 ILO Director General's report, membership in the GFTU (the largest federation of unions) at most numbered 63,000, of whom only 19,000 were full dues-paying members. The four principal trade union blocs in the West Bank, including the WUB, told an ILO mission that they were moving toward a full reunification of the GFTU. The General Federation of Trade Unions of the Gaza Strip consists of the six registered unions. The GFTU participates in meetings of the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU), although it is not formally affiliated. Both the GFTU and the WUB have applied for membership in the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The GFTU and the Gaza Federation began a dialog in 1993 with the Histadrut as a result of the Declaration of Principles. The West Bank unions are independent of the Government of Israel. However, union organizations do reflect the prevailing Palestinian political factions. Israeli authorities tend to view unions more as political organizations than as labor unions and occasionally inhibit union activities in the West Bank and Gaza. Union leaders have been subject to harassment ranging from arrests and administrative detention to interrogation, denial of travel permits, and the refusal of telephone and fax facilities. Citing the reports of the ILO, the ICFTU's annual report for 1993 observed that a general fear of intimidation and possible arrest by the Israeli authorities for participation in union activities inhibits the development of union membership in the territories. Like all organizations in the territories, Palestinian labor organizations are subject to disciplinary measures for engaging in political activities. All meetings of 10 or more non-Israeli citizens in the territories must have prior CIVAD approval. During 1993, however, unions were able to conduct meetings without reported interference. The Gaza Federation was able in 1992 to hold its first May Day since 1967. According to the ILO's report, however, CIVAD told the ILO mission that the IDF had prevented fundamentalists from establishing what they considered to be a trade union front in Ramallah. Military Order 825 of 1980, officially applied in the West Bank and unofficially in Gaza, requires that Palestinian unions present lists of candidates for union office to the CIVAD for approval 30 days before elections. The order authorizes the CIVAD to remove from the lists any candidates who have been convicted of a felony, including those sentenced for security offenses. Despite this restriction, nearly half a dozen West Bank trade unions held elections in 1992. West Bank unions held no elections in 1993 due to internal organizational difficulties and uncertainty about how the newly approved peace accords would affect labor law and union structure. There has been no dissolution of unions by administrative or legislative action. Under prevailing labor law, unions have the right to strike only after submitting a complaint to the CIVAD for mandatory arbitration. Only one abbreviated strike in the West Bank occurred in 1993, and the Israeli authorities did not interfere. There are no laws that specifically protect the rights of striking workers, and, in practice, such workers have little or no protection from employers' retribution. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively A majority of workers in the occupied territories are self-employed or unpaid family helpers in agriculture or commerce. Only 40 percent of employment in the territories consists of wage jobs, most in services provided by CIVAD, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), or municipalities. Collective bargaining is protected. The CIVAD does not record collective agreements because it does not recognize some unions and union leaders. However, most union-employer agreements are honored without interference from the authorities; approximately 60 are currently in force in the West Bank. According to the ILO Director General's report, several labor committees, consisting of 3 to 5 members each in businesses employing more than 20 workers, have been formed to mediate labor grievances. The Center for Trade Union Rights, headquartered in Bethlehem, is also active in conducting labor courses and working with many different trade unions on the spectrum of labor-related issues. Existing laws and regulations do not offer real protection against antiunion discrimination. The labor dispute ordinance of 1972 established a process for settling labor disputes in general but does not deal specifically with antiunion discrimination. There are no export processing zones in the occupied territories. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor There is no forced or compulsory labor in the occupied territories. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children A 1978 military order raised the minimum working age in the West Bank and Gaza to 14. This order is not effectively enforced, and underage labor is used in the agricultural sector and in some West Bank and Gaza factories. Hours of young workers are not limited compared to the regular work force. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work There is no minimum wage provision in the West Bank or Gaza. In the West Bank, Jordanian law allows for a maximum workweek of 48 hours with a required 24-hour rest period, except for certain hotel, food service, and cinema employees, whose workweek is 54 hours. In Gaza, Israeli authorities amended this law to provide for a 45-hour workweek for day laborers and a 40-hour week for salaried employees. There is no effective enforcement of maximum workweek laws. The Ministry of Labor's Office of Inspection services is charged with enforcing health and safety standards in the West Bank and Gaza and claims to have undertaken a small number of inspections. Health and safety conditions in some factories do not meet industry standards established by international labor organizations.
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