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Last Updated: Monday, 31 December 2007, 10:37 GMT
Middle East conflict toll 'falls'
Israeli soldiers search Palestinians in Hebron in the West Bank
Though deaths fell the human rights also declined, B'Tselem said
Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says that the number of deaths in Israeli-Palestinian violence fell sharply in 2007 as compared to 2006.

But the group's annual report says that Israeli security forces killed 373 Palestinians, and 131 of these were not involved in hostilities.

There was a deterioration in the general situation, notably Gaza's humanitarian crisis.

Palestinians killed 13 Israelis in 2007 - seven of them civilians.

Of these, three died in a suicide attack in Eilat, two in Qassam rocket attacks on Sderot, and two were killed in the West Bank.

This is the lowest annual figure for Israeli deaths since 2000 and compares to 17 Israeli civilians killed in 2006.

Six Israeli soldiers were killed in 2007 by Palestinians.

General deterioration

There was little improvement in Palestinians' freedom on movement in the West Bank, B'Tselem says.

2007 TOLL
Israeli forces kill 373 Palestinians - 290 in Gaza , 83 in the West Bank. (In 2006 657 Palestinians were killed)
53 of the Palestinians killed were minors
131 of these were civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities when killed
Seven Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians

There were on average 66 checkpoints manned by soldiers and 459 physical roadblocks across the West Bank, through the year.

Other key points:

  • 2007 saw an increase of 13% in the number of Palestinians held in administrative detention without trial or charge, to 830 people.
  • The Jewish settler population grew by 4.5% - compared with 1.5% population growth inside Israel . This was a fall compared to the growth rate in 2006.
  • Sixty-nine Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967, were demolished, a 38% rise compared to 2006.
  • Palestinians continued to face severe discrimination in the allocation of water in the West Bank , causing serious hardship in the summer.
  • The number of Palestinians killed in intra-Palestinian clashes, 344, was the highest since the start of the Palestinian intifada in September 2000. Of these, 73 were not involved in hostilities.

"There is no doubt that Israel faces serious security threats, and is entitled and even obligated to do its utmost to protect its population. However, far too often, Israel fails to appropriately balance its security needs with equally important values, including protecting the rights of Palestinians under its control," the report says.

"In addition, Israeli authorities often exploit security threats in order to advance prohibited political interests, such as perpetuating settlements and effectively annexing them to Israel ."

B'Tselem also notes a lack of accountability of Israeli security forces, in all matters relating to human rights.

"This can be seen clearly in the reluctance of the state to thoroughly investigate violations and to prosecute those responsible for them," the report said.

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