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PALESTINE, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: The Palestinian Authority expressed its desire to join the Mine Ban Treaty. No humanitarian mine clearance was undertaken, or planned. There continue to be civilian casualities. Defense of Children International/Palestine Section launched a mine awareness campaign.

Mine Ban Policy

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has not developed into a sovereign state. The PA does not have the international legal status to sign or ratify international treaties, including the Mine Ban Treaty. The PA was one of twelve observer delegations to the First Meeting of State Parties to the treaty in Mozambique in May 1999. In a statement to the plenary, the PA representative expressed its desire “to put an end to the danger of antipersonnel mines,” and asked states “to help make the Middle East free of mines.”[1] In April 2000, the PA stated its strong support for and desire to join the Mine Ban Treaty.[2]

According to one source, the issue of mines and unexploded ordnance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) “has not been addressed in any of the agreements negotiated between Israel and the PNA.”[3] This apparent lack of discussion would seemingly indicate that the issue is not a priority for either the Palestinian Authority or the Israeli government. Colonel Nizar Ammar, Head of Planning and Studies in the Palestinian General Security said, “Authority officials have not given enough attention to this issue.”[4] Palestinian Legislative Council member Hatem Abdel Qader said, “To be silent only because we are afraid that the negotiations will fail or will not take U.S. to where we want to go is unacceptable on the part of the Palestinian leadership.”[5]

Landmine Monitor has been unable to obtain information on possible use, stockpiling, trade or production of antipersonnel mines by Palestinian armed forces.

The Landmine Problem

After decades of war and on-going military occupation, Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have been left with thousands of antipersonnel mines, antitank mines, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) on their lands. Until now, international attention and awareness regarding the problem of landmines and UXOs in the OPT has been minimal to non-existent.

The number of landmines planted in the OPT is not known. There are no precise and comprehensive statistics available from any source. According to Israeli and Palestinian military experts, the majority of the landmines planted in the OPT are U.S., British, or Israeli-made mines. Most of these were laid by British, Jordanian, and Israeli forces.

After 1967, the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip resulted in the emplacement of more minefields along the new borders and around dozens of military bases and training areas. In 1997 and 1998 Defence for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS) carried out a survey, identifying 334 mine and UXO incidents.[6] DCI/PS reports that the West Bank areas that experience the most frequent landmine and UXO explosion incidents are Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya and Nablus. Most of the explosions occur in the rural areas of “Zone C” (62.1%), then in “Zone B” (20.5%), and then in “Zone A” (17.4%). In Zones B and C, the majority of the explosions occur in the border areas and near Israeli military training bases, and also in areas adjacent to Israeli settlements. 40% of the explosions resulted from landmines, 39% were UXO explosions, and in 21% of the cases the explosive device was not identified.

Israel has officially declared the locations of sixteen minefields. These declared minefields are located as follows: Jenin District (five minefields), Tulkarem District (one minefield), Qalqilya District (two minefields), Bethlehem District (three minefields), Ramallah and Jerusalem Districts (three minefields), Hebron District (two minefields).[7] However, Palestinian military experts believe that there are a large number of other undisclosed minefields located in the first defense lines between Jordan and the West Bank, in the second defense lines in the Jordan Valley and in other strategic areas leading to the central areas of the West Bank.

Israel has acknowledged that some of the minefields in the occupied territories have no strategic value from a military point of view.[8] According to Major Fathi Saeed, of the Operational Section of the Palestinian National Security Forces, Jenin Area, “Most of the minefields in the West Bank are located in the depth of the West Bank, where no one is threatening Israel’s security.”[9]

Survey and Assessment

The PA has yet to initiate preparations for demining Palestinian areas. No detailed assessment or survey has been made to determine the extent of the mine and UXO problem in Palestine. Even the National Security Forces have no clear idea about the scope of the problem in the OPT. They do not have maps or records of minefields. They obtain their information from the Israeli side.

Mine Clearance

No mine clearance has been done by the PA in the OPT. In Zones B and C, the PA does not have the authority to clear mines. In Zone A, where the PA does have jurisdiction, they have failed to do so due to a variety of reasons, namely, lack of financial and technical means, equipment and trained personnel. Indeed, the ability of the PA to clear landmines and UXO is limited. Major Saeed said, “As Palestinian National Forces we have the human resources to do the clearance, but these resources need training, and we are in need of technical resources.” [10]

The Israeli government has undertaken only limited mine clearance in the OPT. Israel has declared that it has cleared two minefields since its occupation of the West Bank: Alnabi- Elias and Yaabad. However, a mine explosion in the Yaabad field killed a Palestinian on 15 July 1996. Israel replied to an inquiry from the Yaabad Municipality by stating that “the minefield is very old. It has existed since the Jordanian period. We detected and removed the mines that we discovered. We cannot guarantee its emptiness because the detecting instruments cannot discover the mines if they are old. A heavy bulldozer crossed the minefield and exploded the mines. We hope you will notify us if anything is discovered.” [11]

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has stated, “The IDF takes every measure required, including the issuing of orders, putting up fences and signs in the areas, and providing information to local residents in order to prevent the recurrence of these [mine and UXO] incidents.”[12] The statement also said that such measures “are implemented in the Judea and Samaria region, and that the fire practice areas in Judea and Samaria are marked and bordered according to standing army regulations.”[13]

According to DCI/PS, twelve minefields are not properly marked or fenced. Other fences are in need of repair, and signs (often in Hebrew and English only, not Arabic) in need of replacement.

Mine Awareness

Defense of Children International/Palestine Section in 1999 launched a mine awareness campaign, particularly in areas close to minefields and military training bases. DCI/PS has secured support for its mine awareness education programs from a variety of international organizations, including Norwegian People's Aid, R≅dda Barner and Handicap International. It intends to launch a pilot program in the Jenin area of the northern West Bank, a region which is highly affected by mines and UXO.

DCI/PS conducted two sessions to train volunteers from the local community as mine educators. The first was held in the Jenin area, and included 27 volunteer participants. The second was located in the Tobas area, where 20 volunteers participated. After completing the training sessions, the volunteers conducted numerous lectures and workshops to raise the awareness of the problem of landmines and UXO within their communities.

A coordination committee (Mine Action Committee) representing organizations that participated in the project was created to plan, follow-up, and evaluate the activities. This committee is comprised of representatives from DCI/PS, National Security Forces, Palestinian Red Crescent and the YMCA. In addition, as a part of the awareness campaign a collection of printed materials was issued, including a poster indicating the dangers of landmines and UXOs.

On the local level, the PA (specifically the Palestinian National Security Forces and the Ministry of Education) has cooperated with the DCI/PS mine awareness program. The PA’s participation has been instrumental in developing the educational programs necessary to inform the Palestinian community about the dangers of landmines and UXOs.

Landmine Casualties

According to the 1998 study carried out by DCI/PS, every year, dozens of casualties occur as a result of mines and UXO. The documented cases indicate that approximately 34% of the victims are Palestinian children.[14] Not only do children often consider the mines and UXO to be curious objects, but many incidents occur in areas used for grazing flocks, work often undertaken by children.

It is difficult to ascertain the exact number of Palestinian victims, as there has been no concerted effort to document casualties. According to Fadi Abu Sido, Head of Armament Prohibition and Regional Security in the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, “Injuries and casualties have been happening since 1967, while work on this issue did not start before 1994, that is after the advent of the Palestinian Authority.”[15]

DCI/PS believes that since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967, there have been more than 2,500 landmine and UXO victims. Some of the findings of the DCI/PS survey, based upon a random sample of 334 incidents that have occurred since 1967 are that of the total 464 casualties: 144 were killed (31%) and 320 were injured (69%); 34% were children under eighteen years of age; 46% were from families who work in agriculture; 93% are males from low-income families with minimal education. DCI/PS found that 18% of the victims have taken legal actions against the Israeli government in order to receive compensation for their loss. According to one account, there have been several instances following a mine/UXO accident of the IDF interrogating or harassing either the survivor or family members.[16]

Survivor Assistance

No special rehabilitation assistance is provided to landmine victims in the OPT, but there are numerous rehabilitation centers to deal with the disabled from all aspects, including medical, psychological, and vocational. Still, most survivors receive their medical treatment in Israeli hospitals, either because the Israeli hospitals have strong experience in dealing with these injuries or because Palestinians were transferred to Israeli hospitals to have their treatment before the peace agreement between Israel and the PLO.

There are two major health care providers for landmine victims in the OPT, the government hospitals and the private hospitals. These two types of hospitals are spread all over the Palestinian territories, with at least one hospital in every Palestinian governorate. Still, the situation for Palestinian survivors is very bad. For instance, a year after the explosion wounding 16-year-old Burhan Shkeir, he had not received any help or financial support. His father explained: “In order for the (Palestinian) Ministry of Health to agree to treat him for free, it has to get a paper from the Ministry of Social Affairs. And for the latter to complete all its legal procedures, we need a lot of time and patience.”[17]

According to the Director of the General Union of Palestinian Disabled, "No special disability laws are available to landmine victims."[18] But during the last year, the General Union of Disabled Palestinians, Rights Representative and Advocacy Body in coordination with the Central National Committee of Rehabilitation, and the Rehabilitation Institutions Coordinating Body in Palestine, succeeded in passing a special law, "People with Disabilities Rights Law,” in the Palestinian Legislative Council. This law, which was Law Number 4 for the year, was published in the official newspaper and entered into force on 10 October 1999. Currently, there is no national body representing the disabled, but there are attempts to formulate the National Council for Disability, which would represent the disabled, NGOs and the government.


[1] Statement of the Palestinian observing delegation to the FMSP, Maputo, Mozambique, 3-7 May 1999.
[2] Letter from the Office of the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Gaza, 27 April 2000.
[3] Fihmi Shahin, "Yesterday's War Harvests More Victim's Today,” Haquq al-Nas (People’s Rights magazine), LAW, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, August 1999, No. 30, p. 13.
[4] Hadeel Wahdan, “Landmines, the Hidden Terror," The Palestine Report, 22 September 1999.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Defense of Children International/Palestine Section, Report on the Field Study on the Victims of Landmines and Remnants of the Israeli Army in the West Bank during the period from June 1967 to February 1998: The First Report (Jerusalem: DCI/PS, 1998), p.7. Hereinafter, DCI/PS Report 1967-1998.
[7] DCI/PS, The Problem of Landmines, Unexploded Ordnance and Munitions Remnants in the Palestinian Territories: A Seminar Report, 25-26 March 1998 (DCI/PS: 1998), p. 14. Herafter cited as ‘DCI/PS Seminar.’
[8] Conclusion from the Israeli State Comptroller's Report No. 50 A, for the Year 1999, “Mine Laying in the Israel Defense Forces,” (Published in Hebrew and translated unofficially) Israel government printing office, Jerusalem.
[9] Interview with Major Fathi Saeed, National Security Forces-Operational Section, Jenin, 19 October 1999.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Letter from the IDF to the Yaabad municipality, 29 July 1996.
[12] B”Tselem, Incidents of Death and Injury Resulting from Exploding Munition Remnants (Jerusalem: B’Tselem, July 1995), p. 13.
[13] Ibid., p. 13. Note: “Judea and Samaria” are the terms the Israeli government uses to refer to the West Bank.
[14] DCI/PS Report 1967-1998, p. 7.
[15] Hadeel Wahdan, “Landmines, the Hidden Terror," The Palestine Report, 22 September 1999.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Interview with Ziad ‘Amr, Ramallah, 3 January 2000.