Sharon visit: Blair should condemn Israeli assassinations as well as suicide attacks in 'twin-track' approach

Last week Amnesty International published a report on Israel's assassinations, which have become an increasingly entrenched pattern in Israeli army operations. The report, showing not only that the so-called 'targeted killings' are illegal under international law but that they also frequently kill bystanders, has been sent to 10 Downing Street ahead of the visit.

The human rights organisation notes that Israeli security forces are failing to arrest suspects, still less to provide evidence of wrongdoing on the part of its targets. Amnesty International's legal analysis shows that killings of Palestinians suspected of involvement in attacks against Israelis are only lawful during the period of the suspect's armed engagement - and not, as Israel has argued, at various 'planning' stages. Suspects should be arrested if feasible, and civilian bystanders should be protected.

Since the current Palestinian uprising (intifada) began in September 2000, the Israeli army and security forces have extrajudicially executed over 100 Palestinians in such assassinations, also killing scores and injuring hundreds of bystanders in the process. Many of the bystanders have been Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights, including large family groups.

With Ariel Sharon in London to meet Tony Blair during a key period of possible movement to peace according to the 'Road Map' agreement, Amnesty International is urging Mr Blair to visibly adopt a 'twin track' approach to diplomacy with Israel and Palestinian leaders. This would see him firmly condemning Israel's assassinations as well as suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilians by Palestinians.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'We want to see Tony Blair underlining to Ariel Sharon that Israel's assassinations policy is both highly unlawful and ruinous to the chances of reaching a peaceful settlement in the area.

'Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinians has not and will not bring security to Israel.

'So-called 'targeted killings' involve the Israeli army executing not only those carrying weapons, but even those said to have been on their way to carry out attacks. Such killings are contrary to international law.

'With more than 100 Palestinians assassinated by Israel's security forces in the last 32 months, Mr Blair's advice should be that Israel can help restore respect for human rights and advance the cause of peace by immediately ending assassinations.

'The UK's role should be 'twin-track': absolutely condemnatory of Israeli assassinations, absolutely condemnatory of Palestinian suicide attacks.'

Amnesty International, which has repeatedly criticised both Israel's assassinations policy as well as suicide and other attacks on civilians carried out by armed Palestinian groups, has repeatedly called for international human rights monitors to be sent to Israel and the Occupied Territories. It recently criticised the Israeli authorities for demanding so-called 'waivers' from foreigners entering the Gaza Strip, a move seemingly designed to reduce scrutiny of the Israeli army's conduct.

Background

In the past 32 months more than 2,000 Palestinians - including more than 350 Children's rights - have been killed by the Israeli army. In the same period, more than 700 Israelis - most of them civilians, including over 90 Children's rights - have been killed by Palestinian armed groups. Amnesty International has consistently condemned such killings and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

The report mentioned above is available online.

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