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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 12:43 GMT
Amnesty calls for Mid-East observers
Palestinian protests
Amnesty says the current situation must end
By the BBC's Caroline Hawley in Jerusalem

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International has called for the urgent deployment of an international observer force to end what it says is an intolerable situation between Israelis and Palestinians.

An international observing presence can greatly assist by defusing situations and give both Palestinians and Israelis greater protection

Amnesty International
The call came in a report entitled Broken Lives which details extensive human rights violations that have taken place since the conflict began last September.

Amnesty's report speaks of the fear felt by Israelis in crowded streets and cafes and by Palestinians in their homes and at army checkpoints.

It says Palestinians risked being killed at roadblocks for no apparent reason by nervous or reckless soldiers.

The presence of international observers could lift some of the fear and ensure that ambulances and the sick are able to pass through checkpoints, the report says.

But Israel has again rejected the idea, which has been repeatedly put forward by the Palestinians.

A senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the BBC Israel would never accept an international force.

Although it had nothing to hide, foreign observers would "only complicate matters", he said.

Targeting civilians

The new Amnesty report criticises Palestinian militants for targeting Israeli civilians and accuses the Palestinian Authority of signally failing to properly investigate such killings.

The report also condemns the Palestinian armed groups who have shot deliberately at residential areas and cars... and set off bombs targeting civilians in shopping malls and restaurants

Amnesty International statement

But it accuses Israel of responding to attacks with disproportionate force, including the shelling of Palestinian towns.

It says three million Palestinians have been subjected to collective punishment with their villages and towns closed to the outside world.

What is needed from Israelis and Palestinians is a new mindset that values human life, Amnesty says.

As for the international community, the group accuses it of accepting an intolerable situation and of failing to back its increasingly strong statements about the conflict with action to protect civilians.

See also:

20 Aug 01 | Middle East
US backs Israel over observers
20 Aug 01 | Middle East
Obstacles to sending Mid-East observers
19 Jul 01 | Middle East
International observers for Mid-East?
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