Amnesty International criticizes Israel, Palestinians

Thursday, May 29, 2003

JERUSALEM -- Amnesty International issued its annual report Wednesday and accused Israel of war crimes and Palestinian militants of crimes against humanity.

While Amnesty cited Israeli military action in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it did not mention Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority in connection with attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli civilians.

The year covered by the annual report was the second full year of Palestinian-Israeli violence, which erupted in September 2000. Amnesty said that in 2002, at least 1,000 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military, "most of them unlawfully."

The statement also accused the Palestinian Authority of carrying out and encouraging terror attacks, but the Amnesty report focused on the militant groups operating outside the official authority, calling their deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians "crimes against humanity."

The report stated that in 2002, 180 Israeli civilians were killed in suicide bombings inside Israel, while 80 others were killed in shootings and other attacks in the West Bank and Gaza.

Also, 197 Israeli soldiers were killed in 2002, the report said.

Palestinian Authority officials refused to comment on the Amnesty report.

Associated Press records show that since the start of the violence 32 months ago, 2,350 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 777 on the Israeli side.

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