+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
PALESTINE, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
Table of Contents
<Previous | Next>


Key developments since May 2000: It appears that Israel has continued to use antipersonnel mines in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. There have been allegations of mine use by Palestinians as well. The Defense for Children International/Palestine Section’s mine awareness campaign continued, as more than 70 mine awareness sessions took place in 2000. DCI/PS, in cooperation with the Palestinian National Security Forces, also erected a fence and put warning signs around the Qabatia minefield. In August 2000, the UK-based Mines Advisory Group completed an assessment of mined areas around the village of Husan.

Related Report:

Mine Ban Policy

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is not a sovereign state and does not have the international legal status to join international treaties, including the Mine Ban Treaty. In April 2000, the Palestinian Authority stated its support for and desire to join the Mine Ban Treaty.[1]

According to the Palestinian National Security Information Center, the landmine problem in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is regarded “as one of the national problems that directly affects social and economic life. Moreover it affects Palestinian national security.”[2] The Center says that the Declaration of Principles, signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel in 1993, does not explicitly mention the mine issue.[3]

Palestinian Authority representatives did not participate in the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, but a local NGO, Defense for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS) and Al-Haq attended. During the meeting, DCI/PS and Al-Haq issued a joint press release that addressed in particular Israel’s refusal to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.[4] The two organizations also stressed that Israel, as a State Party to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, is obligated to safeguard the security of the civilian population under occupation from the threat of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The Palestinian Campaign to Ban Landmines was established in December 2000.[5]

Use, Production, Stockpiling, Transfer

Since the escalation of violence in September 2000, there have been allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by both Israel and Palestinians. It would appear the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has continued to use mines in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. (See the country report on Israel). Landmine Monitor has been unable to confirm allegations regarding Palestinian use.

The Palestinian Security Forces assert that they do not possess antipersonnel mines or any kinds of mines.[6] The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreements on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip places numerous constraints on the kinds of weapons that the Palestinian Police[7] can possess. As such, the prohibition of Palestinian possession of landmines is implicit, according to the National Security Information Center.[8] Article XIV of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip includes the following language:

Except for the arms, ammunition and equipment of the Palestinian Police described in Annex 1, and those of the Israeli military forces, no organization, group or individual in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall manufacture, sell, acquire, possess, import or otherwise introduce into the West Bank or the Gaza Strip any firearms, ammunition, weapons, explosives, gunpowder or any related equipment, unless otherwise provided for in Annex 1.[9]

There are indications that armed Palestinian groups have access to some types of mines. A number of media reports indicate that these groups are taking the explosives from landmines to manufacture other explosive devices. For example, an unidentified Palestinian was quoted as saying that “explosives used by Hamas and other groups come from landmines laid in the 1967 Middle East war.”[10] Alternatively, there are also reports that armed Palestinian groups are attempting to improvise antivehicle mines from “ordinary bombs/grenades” to use against Israel Defense Force tanks.[11] There have also been reports that mines taken from the ground in the Golan Heights by Palestinians are being used in a similar way.[12]

On 7 May 2001, the Israeli Navy apparently seized a ship containing weapons that was reportedly headed to Gaza.[13] An IDF list of the seized cargo includes 62 TMA-5 and 8 TMA-3 Yugoslavian made antivehicle mines.[14] The chief of the Israeli Navy stated that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command was responsible for the smuggling operation. The Palestinian Authority has denied involvement.[15]

Israeli sources claim that the Palestinians have increased mine-laying in the Gaza Strip. “Security sources in Israel have learned that the PA has increased its mine-laying and fortification work in its outposts facing IDF position.... The Palestinians are also carrying out extensive fortification work and improving their position in case of possible confrontation with the IDF. The security establishment is also concerned over the fact that the Palestinians have recently increased the production of anti-tank weapons.”[16]

Mine Clearance

The mine problem does not appear to constitute a priority for Israel or the Palestinians at this time. The problem remains as described in previous Landmine Monitor reports. The impact of unexploded ordnance in military training areas and military bases as well as minefields remaining from prior armed conflicts has not been systematically surveyed.

During the reporting period no mine clearance is believed to have taken place either by the PA or by the Israeli government. There is no information available on any demining activities planned for the year 2001. The only mine related improvement which took place in 2000 was the fencing and posting of signs around a portion of Qabatia minefield in the northern West Bank, which came under Palestinian security control following an Israeli re-deployment in 1999. The project was implemented in conjunction with the DCI/PS Mine Awareness project, in coordination with the Palestinian Security Forces and with support from the Canada Fund.[17]

In August 2000, the UK-based Mines Advisory Group completed an assessment of mined areas around the village of Husan, southwest of Bethlehem. Funded by the Canadian Landmine Foundation, the mission gave rise to 12-week clearance plan that has been put on hold due to the security situation.[18]

Mine Awareness

The mine awareness campaign implemented by DCI/PS continued in 2000. The project places particular emphasis on areas adjacent to minefields and military training bases in the northern parts of the West Bank. Rädda Barnen, the Canada Fund, the Diana Fund (through War on Want), Norwegian People’s Aid and the Ploughshares Fund provided $60,000 in financial support for the project in 2000. In 2000, more than 70 mine awareness sessions took place, including lectures, mine awareness workshops, and special events conducted in schools, summer camps, and villages near minefields and military training bases, reaching approximately 20,000 people. DCI/PS project produced and distributed two mine awareness booklets, one for children between the ages of 12 and 15 and a coloring book for children between the ages of 6 and 9.

On 10 May 2000 DCI/PS held an internal evaluation workshop on the landmine awareness project that included participation by representatives of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society-Department of Youth and Volunteers, Ministry of Education, Palestinian National Forces, and DCI/PS. The evaluation noted strengths such as a high level of community participation, successful coordination, the inclusion of children’s participation in all stages of project implementation and the high level of transparency that characterizes relations between the local project partners and international organizations.[19] Weaknesses noted included a lack of services provided to the local community and recognition of the bureaucratic and logistical obstacles involved in organizing project activities, particularly those involving governmental entities and located in remote areas of the West Bank.

Landmine/UXO Casualties

DCI/PS believes that the number of casualties due to mines and UXO in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since May 2000 are within the average, when compared to casualties in previous years. According to information collected by DCI/PS, nine incidents occurred between May 2000 and March 2001, resulting in the deaths of five Palestinians, four of them aged 18 years or younger. Another six Palestinians were injured, including four under the age of 18 years. All the casualties were the result of UXO explosions, and took place in areas near military training bases, in the confrontation areas during Al-Aqsa Intifada, or in blockades separating the Palestinian governorates.

Survivor Assistance

The Palestinian health care system is a mixture of public, non-governmental, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and private (profit and not-for-profit) service delivery, with a developing governmental health insurance system. In 1994, the PA’s Ministry of Health inherited a mixed public/private sector health care system that included a severely uncoordinated service delivery system. Improvements have been made in years since. The most prominent providers of health services are the Ministry of Health, the UNRWA, and NGOs. The Ministry of Health is responsible for a significant portion of both primary health care and secondary care, and some tertiary care. Moreover, the Ministry of Health purchases tertiary services from other health providers, both locally and abroad.

UNRWA plays an important role in health services delivery, providing free of charge primary health care, and purchasing secondary and tertiary services for the 1,074,718 registered refugees. In addition, UNRWA contracts for services with NGOs, primarily for secondary and tertiary care, and with some Israeli facilities for limited, specialized tertiary care.

While the Israeli health system provides free medical coverage to Israeli citizens, tourists, and students injured by landmines and UXO, this system does not extend to Palestinian residents of the territories occupied by Israel. Medical care for Palestinian mine and UXO victims in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is provided through the Palestinian health system. Landmine survivors obtain their health and rehabilitation services from the existing centers for the disabled.[20]

Disability Policy and Practice

Mine victims do not receive treatment different from other people with disabilities. There are neither special laws nor health services specifically for mine survivors in Palestine. Instead, they receive treatment under the Law Number 4 (1999), the “People with Disability Rights Law,” which entered into force in the Palestinian Territories one month after its formal publication on 10 October 1999. As of March 2001, however, the law had not been implemented due to an absence of regulations.[21] The General Union of the Disabled and the Ministry of Social Affairs have been working together to establish an executive body to oversee implementation of the law.

<Previous | Next>

[1] Letter from the PNA Office of the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Gaza, 27 April 2000.
[2] “The Landmine Issue in the Occupied Territories,” by Hisham Salem, National Security Information Center, 2000, p. 1. The Center is affiliated with the Palestinian Authority and is part of the President Security Advisor Office in Gaza.
[3] Ibid, p. 5.
[4] DCI/PS and AL-HAQ Joint Statement to the Second Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, ref: 001500, 13 September 2000.
[5] It is coordinated by Defense for Children International/Palestine Section and includes the YMCA Rehabilitation Program in its membership.
[6] Telephone interview with Younis Al-Katry, General Director, National Security Information Center, 21 December 2000.
[7] The term “Palestinian Police,” which is used in the agreements, includes six branches of the Palestinian security forces, as outlined in the agreement.
[8] Telephone Interview with Younis Al-Katry, General Director, National Security Information Center, 21 December 2000.
[9] Article XIV, Israeli-Palestinian Interim agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 28 September 1995.
[10] “Palestinian gunmen defy Arafat, enrage Israelis,” Reuters, 26 April 2001.
[11] Cited in news column in Aftenposten (Norwegian daily newspaper), 30 April 2001, translation provided by Norwegian People’s Aid.
[12] “Israeli Army making arrangements in preparation for the expected landmine war in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Al-Ayyam Newspaper, 16 December 2000.
[13] “Israel Captures Boat With Weapons,” Associated Press (Jerusalem), 7 May 2001.
[14] IDF Spokesman, “Israel Navy Forces Detain Ship With Weapons” (online edition), 8 May 2001.
[15] “Captured boat with weapons was for Palestinians,” Associated Press (Jerusalem), 7 May 2001.
[16] Hagai Huberman, “Palestinians Bolstering Defenses: Palestinians Increasing Mine-Laying in Gaza Strip,” Hatzofe (Israeli Hebrew language newspaper), p. 3.
[17] The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives is an organization that facilitates Canadian government (CIDA) funds to local NGOs.
[18] Email from Tim Carstairs, Director of Communications, Mines Advisory Group, 16 July 2001.
[19] For more information, see DCI/PS, “Mine Awareness in the Palestinian Territories, Evaluation Report,” May 2000.
[20] Interview with Ziad Amr, Ramallah, 20 September 2000.
[21] Telephone interview with Ziad Amr, Director, Palestinian General Union of the Disabled, Ramallah, 21 March 2001.