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Country Reports
Palestine, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: A National Mine Action Committee was created in August 2002. A UNICEF assessment of the landmine and UXO situation concluded that most affected areas are not properly fenced or marked, including Israeli military training zones. Mine Risk Education efforts have expanded.

Mine Ban Policy and Use

In 2002 and the first half of 2003, the Palestinian Authority did not make any official statement with respect to banning antipersonnel mines. In April 2000, an official stated that the PA supported and desired to join the Mine Ban Treaty.[1]

Some armed Palestinian groups are believed to have access to both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines. In the past, media reports have indicated that these groups are taking the high explosives from landmines to manufacture other types of explosive devices.[2]

The Mine Ban Treaty prohibits not only antipersonnel mines, but also explosive booby-traps and other improvised explosive devices (IED) that are victim-activated. Media and others are not always clear whether the devices used are victim-activated or command-detonated and often use terms interchangeably, citing the use of bombs, landmines, booby-traps and improvised explosive devices by armed Palestinian groups and Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Landmine Problem

The Palestinian Occupied Territories (OPT) suffer from unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as landmines. An August 2002 assessment by UNICEF concluded:

Minefields dating from the 1967 Middle East war, located in the first defense lines between Jordan and the West Bank and in second defense lines in the Jordan Valley and in other strategic areas leading to the West Bank, are mostly not properly fenced or marked. Israeli military training zones are not properly fenced either or not fenced at all and UXO are not collected after the end of training. Many of these training zones are situated near populated areas; as a result civilians come into contact with UXO easily. In addition to that, in most areas of confrontation Israeli and Palestinian UXO and IED are left behind.[3]

A Palestinian police officer told Landmine Monitor that in 2002, “the scope of the UXO problem increased beyond minefields and military training zones in the northern and southern parts of the West Bank to include all areas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, especially those subjected to air and ground attacks.”[4]

Mine Action

In 2002 some new actors initiated mine action at the local level, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and the Palestinian government. In August 2002, a National Mine Action Committee was created consisting of these entities, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations. The Committee is responsible for the coordination of day-to-day mine action activities in the OPT, including mine risk education, and for the design of a national mine action plan.[5] The Committee is tasked with ensuring that UXO awareness messages used inside the OPT are consistent and coherent. It will also carry out surveys to assist in the appropriate design and prioritization of activities.

Mine Risk Education

In 2002, Defence for Children International/Palestine (DCI/PS) continued to provide mine and UXO risk education (MRE) in the Palestinian Territories, especially in schools and summer camps adjacent to mine-affected areas, military training zones, and the areas of confrontation between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. DCI/PS conducted over 400 MRE sessions targeting more than 12,000 children, which included lectures and announcements, art exercises, and theater productions. DCI/PS worked with the Palestinian Ministry of Education to train approximately 150 teachers from six Palestinian governorates in MRE. DCI/PS project staff also discussed MRE in a variety of television and radio programs. In 2002, 320 MRE messages were broadcasted on local television in seven governorates. Rädda Barnen (Save the Children Sweden) and Canada provided funding support to these activities.

After several Palestinian youth were injured by UXO in Jenin in April 2002, UNICEF worked with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to develop MRE activities. This included refresher training for 20 volunteers, the production and dissemination of MRE posters and leaflets, and the staging of two theatrical plays for children from 6-12 years of age and 12-18 years of age. UNICEF also developed MRE materials in coordination with the National Mine Action Committee, including 20,000 posters, 250,000 stickers, 500 street banners and twenty billboards. It translated and dubbed into Arabic an MRE educational video, “The Silent Shout," for broadcast on national TV. UNICEF also included a one and a half hour discussion on MRE and UXO incidents prevention on its youth to youth weekly program on national television.[6]

The ICRC also worked with the PRCS after the April 2002 casualties in Jenin to develop an MRE project. The ICRC provided an international trainer and materials. Ninety MRE facilitators have been trained (20 in Jenin, 35 in Gaza and 35 in the southern part of the West Bank). The facilitators are conducting MRE in summer camps, clubs, community centers, and schools. In 2003, the ICRC provided an international trainer to hold three MRE training (one in Gaza, and two in the West Bank) for 100 youth and PRCS volunteers.[7]

Landmine Casualties[8]

In 2002, DCI/PS documented 45 landmine and UXO casualties by 15 May 2002, including ten deaths (nine of them children); 31 of these casualties occurred in the period during and following Israeli military operations in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002. During the rest of the year, two more UXO incidents were reported, in which three people were killed, including two children under the age of 18, and nine others injured, all children. Given the difficult situation on the ground in 2002, comprehensive figures on the number of landmine/UXO casualties are unavailable.

In 2001, DCI/PS recorded ten landmine and UXO incidents, resulting in twenty casualties (of which fourteen were children).

Casualties continue to be reported in 2003. On 6 March, one person was killed in a mine incident in the governorate of Toulkarem.

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories are not eligible for medical insurance coverage under the Israeli National Insurance Services (Bituach Leumi). Instead, Palestinian health care providers provide medical care to Palestinian mine and UXO casualties. The most prominent health services providers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are the Ministry of Health, UNRWA, and NGOs.[9]

In 2002, the ICRC delivered “many truckloads” of emergency medical supplies to the Palestinian health authorities. In addition, the ICRC, in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, conducted four war surgery seminars for about 200 surgeons and other medical staff in October.[10]

The “People with Disability Rights Law,” Law Number 4 (1999), applies to mine and UXO survivors.[11] During 2002, several workshops were held to discuss implementation of the law, including a session in the Legislative Council. Although enacted, the Law has not been implemented, and the bylaws have not yet been ratified.[12]

[1] Letter from the office of the Palestinian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Gaza, 27 April 2000.
[2] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 848-849.
[3] Nathalie Prevost, UNICEF, “Unexploded Ordnance and Mine Action in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” August 2002.
[4] Interview with Ali Mograbi, Palestinian Police, Ramallah, 27 March 2003.
[5] The committee includes National Plan of Action for Palestinian Children, Palestinian Red Crescent Society, Defence for Children International /Palestine Section, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and UNRWA.
[6] Email from Monica Awad, Communication Officer, UNICEF - Occupied Palestinian Territories, 14 March 2003.
[7] Interview with Khaldoun Owes, Head of Youth and Volunteer Department, PRCS, Ramallah, 27 March 2003.
[8] Information provided by information department, Defence for Children International/Palestine Section; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 850.
[9] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 851.
[10] ICRC, “Annual Report 2002,” Geneva, June 2003, p. 306.
[11] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 851.
[12] Interview with Ziad Amr, Director, Palestinian General Union of the Disabled, Ramallah, 7 March 2003.