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http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010221/wl/israel_targeted_killings_1.html


Human Rights Group Condemns Israel

By JASON KEYSER, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday February 21 1:21 PM ET


 

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's targeted killings of Palestinians suspected of attacks on Israelis are part of a ``policy of state assassinations,'' the human rights groups Amnesty International said in a report released Wednesday.

The group demanded that Israel stop the practice and asked the United States to review its weapons sales to Israel as a result of it.

The report said Amnesty field workers investigated several cases in which Israeli forces targeted and killed Palestinian leaders, and concluded that the killings were illegal and unnecessary. The report called the killings a ``policy of state assassination.''

Amnesty International, the London-based group that won the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its human rights advocacy, called on the United States to examine ``all arms transfers to Israel'' and provide guarantees that the weapons ``are not used to violate human rights.''

``There is a clear cause for concern that U.S. made weapons are being used in attacks on Palestinians, since the U.S. is the major supplier of arms to Israel,'' said Curt Goering, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, which issued Wednesday's report.

Palestinians say Israel has targeted and killed at least a dozen local Palestinian leaders since the current round of unrest erupted almost five months ago. Israel has acknowledged some of the cases and refused comment on others.

Indicating that there is a policy of targeted killing, Israeli officials have said repeatedly that Israeli forces have permission to hit Palestinians who have attacked Israelis or are planning attacks.

Goering said the killings should not have taken place. ``Our researchers determined that some of those killed could and should have been arrested instead,'' he said in a statement.

The most recent incident of an apparent targeted killing was Monday, when Mahmoud Madani, 25, a local leader of the militant Hamas group, was gunned down in a refugee camp next to Nablus. Palestinians said Israeli special forces were responsible.

The Israeli military did not comment on the killing, but Israeli security officials said he was involved in two recent bomb attacks in Israel that killed two people and injured more than 100.

On Feb. 13, Israeli helicopter gunships fired missiles at a car in the Gaza Strip, killing a Palestinian security officer Israel claimed had ordered mortar attacks on a Jewish settlement.

The officer, Massoud Ayyad, 54, was a member of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's elite Force 17 unit. Israel said he was also affiliated with the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.

Last month, the widow of a Palestinian activist who was gunned down outside his West Bank home appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court to order Israeli security forces to end its assassinations policy.

Siham Thabet, wife of Thabet Thabet, a local leader in Arafat's Fatah organization, said her husband's killing was unjustified since he was unarmed.

In an opinion to the court on Feb. 11, Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein said that the assassination policy is part of war and is legal according to international law.

Goering called on Israel to investigate killings by its security services, warning that otherwise, Israeli soldiers could conclude that they are above the law, ``fueling a cycle of violence and revenge in the region.''


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