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Liz Hogkin of Amnesty International
"We are calling for an end to this policy of liquidating political opponents"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 16:45 GMT
Israeli 'assassination policy' condemned
Israeli soldiers
Israel admits to targeting specific individuals
Human rights group Amnesty International has harshly condemned Israel for "assassinating" Palestinian militants and for using "excessive" force in dealing with the four-month-old Palestinian uprising.


The use of state assassinations by Israel against Palestinian suspects is undermining the rule of law and fuelling the cycle of violence in the region

Amnesty International
An Amnesty fact-finding team, which visited Israel and the Palestinian territories recently, found that Israel had killed some people who could have been arrested, a report issued on Wednesday said.

"The use of state assassinations by Israel against Palestinian suspects is undermining the rule of law and fuelling the cycle of violence in the region," the report said.

Israel has admitted to targeting specific individuals, who, it says have engaged in or are planning "terrorist acts".

'Violent threats'

The press spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London, DJ Schneeweiss, told the BBC Israel characterises the attacks as "pinpoint killings of those engaged in violence against Israel".

Israeli helicopter air strike
One of Mr Arafat's bodyguards was killed in an Israeli helicopter gunship attack
"Unfortunately we're in a situation of armed conflict... We had a political process, we had a dialogue where we were trying to resolve our differences. The Palestinians have clearly abandoned that dialogue and have decided to resort to force."

He said Israel had to respond to the "armed and violent threats" with violence.

'State assassination'

But Amnesty sees the policy differently.

The organisation's Elizabeth Hodgkin told the BBC that Amnesty considered the killings "extra-judicial executions".


Israeli security forces and Palestinian armed groups are showing an appalling disregard for the supreme human right: the right to life

Amnesty International
"That's to say executions without any trial and outside the judicial process... we've called them state assassinations."

She said that they believed some of those who had been "liquidated" could just as easily been arrested and brought to trial.

Last week, Massoud Ayyan, one of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's bodyguards, was killed in an Israeli rocket attack in the Gaza Strip.

Israel maintained that he was also an agent for the Lebanese militant group Hizbollah.

Nasr Mohammed al-Hasanat who worked for the Palestinian security services, was killed two days later by Israeli security forces.

The Amnesty report also criticised the Palestinians, saying paramilitary groups had targeted Israeli civilians.

"Israeli security forces and Palestinian armed groups are showing an appalling disregard for the supreme human right: the right to life," the report said.

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See also:

09 Jan 01 | Middle East
Israel's 'assassination policy' on trial
10 Nov 00 | Middle East
Israel's special operations
09 Nov 00 | Middle East
Israel's tactical questions
09 Nov 00 | Middle East
Three dead in Israeli 'assassination'
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