+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
PALESTINE, Landmine Monitor Report 2005


Key developments since May 2004: In 2005, the National Mine Action Committee started to develop a mine action strategy and a formal mine action structure, with UNICEF support. In 2004, the Palestinian Bomb Squad Unit responded to nearly a thousand call-outs and conducted 33 explosive ordnance disposal operations.

Mine Ban Policy

The Palestinian Authority (PA) does not have the international legal status to sign, ratify or accede to international treaties, including the Mine Ban Treaty. The PA has not made any recent public statements with regard to the treaty, nor has it formulated a general mine ban policy.[1 ] The landmine issue has yet to be discussed within the framework of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, and apparently is not a priority for either the PA or the Israeli government.[2 ]

Representatives of the PA did not attend the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in Nairobi in November-December 2004. The PA participated in the First Meeting of States Parties in 1999, but has not been present for any subsequent annual Meetings of States Parties or intersessional Standing Committee meetings.


In recent years, armed Palestinian groups have used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and, allegedly, landmines. Some groups are believed to have access to both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines, and have reportedly used the high explosives from mines to make other kinds of explosive devices.[3 ] In this reporting period, since May 2004, Landmine Monitor has received few reports of use of antipersonnel mines by Palestinian groups, and no reports of use by Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).[4 ] In December 2004, according to a media report, Hamas said it had planted landmines and roadside bombs in an area east of Gaza City.[5 ] Another media report in January 2005 said that Israeli troops uncovered two landmines near Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.[6]

The Mine Ban Treaty prohibits not only antipersonnel mines, but also explosive booby-traps and other improvised explosive devices 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 in the OPT without making any distinctions.

Landmine/ERW Problem

The OPT are contaminated with explosive remnants of war (ERW), in the form of landmines dating from World War II, and mines, abandoned explosive ordnance (AXO) and unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, including Israeli munitions such as unexploded missiles, grenades and cartridges, as well as booby-traps.[7 ] A further hazard arises from Palestinian IEDs, including homemade mortars, rockets, mines and roadside bombs. The placement of these devices varies but would appear to be mostly in the vicinity of Israeli settlements.[8 ] There are also ERW left behind in populated areas from Israeli military incursions into urban areas of the OPT, as well as from Israeli military training.[9 ] Owing to air and ground attacks in many areas, the landmine and ERW problem has expanded to include virtually all of the OPT.[10]

The PA National Security Forces do not have maps or records of minefields and rely on information from the Israelis. The Jordanian-West Bank border and the Jordan Valley area contain most of the declared minefields.[11 ] Minefields left from the time of the British mandate and the Six Day War in 1967 are, in general, neither fenced nor well-marked.[12 ] It is also believed that landmines have been laid on the border between Egypt and Gaza, and throughout the Gaza Strip.[13 ]

No detailed assessment of the mine and ERW contamination has been carried out. In August 2000, Mines Advisory Group completed an assessment of mined areas around the village of Husan in the West Bank, which gave rise to a 12-week clearance plan that was put on hold due to the security situation.[14]

Mine Action Program

Mine action is coordinated in Gaza and the West Bank through the National Mine Action Committee (NMAC), which was chaired until early 2005 by the National Plan of Action for Palestinian Children (NPA-PC), assisted by UNICEF.[15 ] NMAC was established in 2002 as an informal structure by concerned agencies to improve the coordination and impact of mine action. It includes representatives from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Police and Civil Defense from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, UNICEF, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Defense for Children International and Palestinian Red Crescent Society.[16 ]

The committee seeks to set priorities for mine action, including explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operations and mine risk education (MRE) activities, and coordinates day-to-day mine action activities in the OPT. The committee tries to ensure that MRE messages used throughout the occupied territories are consistent and coherent, undertakes impact surveys to assist in the appropriate design and prioritization of activities, and monitors mine action initiatives.[17 ]

UNICEF is the lead UN agency for MRE and has assisted NPA-PC, as the chair of NMAC, to undertake mine action coordination. UNICEF also supported NMAC in assessing needs and developing a national strategy since the committee’s creation in 2002. In 2005, NMAC sought UNICEF support to investigate the possibility of creating a formally recognized ERW/mine action coordination body, and to develop a national mine action plan and strategy to improve impact and coordination between Gaza and the West Bank.[18]

As of mid-2005, MRE strategy, planning and activities were based on an August 2002 UNICEF consultant’s report and recommendations.[19 ] To determine how best to provide future support, a member of the UNICEF Landmines and Small Arms Team based in New York undertook a field visit to Israel and the OPT in August 2005, and a further consultancy in support of the development of a national strategy was planned for October 2005.[20]

Mine and ERW Clearance

The Israeli Defense Force clears mines and UXO on an emergency basis in Israel and some parts of the OPT. Its countermine capabilities are considerable but apparently not used for humanitarian mine clearance within Israel or the territory that Israel controls. There is no mine clearance capability within the PA, as the Israeli government does not allow this to be established.[21 ]

NMAC believes that because of the security sensitivity on the ground it is difficult for the PA to conduct surveys or clear minefields in the occupied territories. These activities require permission from Israel, as minefields are located in Zone C (all West Bank areas not under the control of the PA), which is under the security control of Israel.[22 ]

The Palestinian Police Bomb Squad Unit responds to reports of mines, UXO or IEDs. The six teams―three in the Gaza Strip (North, Middle and South), and three in the West Bank (Ramallah, Nablus and Bethlehem)―were called out 858 times in 2003 and 972 times in 2004. The Gaza Strip had by far the largest number of call-outs, receiving 714 in 2003, and 788 in 2004.  The nature of call-outs varies and includes searching cars, examining suspicious objects, post-incident investigations, area inspection tasks and EOD. During 2004, the teams undertook 33 EOD operations, 20 of which were in Gaza. In July 2005, work began to clear areas around the Israeli settlements being evacuated as part of the disengagement plan, with support from European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EU COPPS).[23 ]

The Bomb Squad Unit staff, 50 in Gaza and 60 in the West Bank, were trained in the US, Turkey and Austria. In Gaza, the Bomb Squad is split in three sub-units, based in the North, the Middle and the South respectively, limiting the need to cross Israel Defence Force checkpoints and thereby speeding up response times. Since the beginning of the Intifada, clearance and EOD equipment has been destroyed and a number of staff have been killed.[24 ]

In 2002, there were three bomb disposal equipped vehicles in Gaza, one in each branch, but none in the West Bank where they had been destroyed. In 2004, an assessment was carried out by an EU-financed police advisor, followed by an assessment by an EOD specialist from the British Ministry of Defence on the quality of EOD equipment, and the training and capacity of Palestinian police EOD personnel. The report concluded that there was an urgent need to upgrade EOD equipment. Following the report, the UK government approved the provision of four Land Rovers equipped with modern EOD equipment.[25 ]

Initially, the Israeli Authorities did not approve the EOD-equipped vehicles, which were eventually delivered in May and June 2005, as part of an EU operational assistance package.[26 ] Two fully equipped vehicles have been based in Gaza, and two in the West Bank (one in Bethlehem and one in Nablus). Each EOD vehicle is equipped with a computer, X-ray equipment, personal protective equipment and EOD tools. Three British EOD experts undertook a two-day course in Jericho to familiarize Palestinian EOD personnel with the new equipment, and recommended a full-scale EOD training for Palestinian EOD trainers in new methods of handling explosive devices.  The course was planned for October/November 2005.[27]


Mine Risk Education

MRE in the occupied territories has been conducted through NMAC partner organizations. Children are priority targets, as many children have become UXO casualties and many items of ordnance remain in areas regularly accessed by children.[28 ] This has become more urgent with the planned withdrawal of settlers from the West Bank and Gaza, as there are reports of mines and UXO around the settlements.[29 ]

In 2004, UNICEF funded Defense for Children International, Palestine Section (DCI/PS) to undertake a series of MRE workshops and capacity-building activities with local NGOs, community groups and UNWRA. During the second half of 2004, NMAC conducted two training sessions, one in the West Bank and the other in the Gaza Strip, to train trainers in MRE; 42 trainers from a variety of local community organizations were trained.[30 ] UNICEF has not funded DCI/PS for MRE activities in 2005. UNICEF provided US$20,000 to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) for a three-month campaign in the run-up to the disengagement process in Gaza.[31 ] In Gaza during 2005, UNICEF also established 15 safe-play areas for children.[32]

PRCS, in coordination with NMAC, has established 60 mine action cells since 2002; five are in Gaza and 55 in the West Bank. The cells, which consist of five or six volunteers/PRCS personnel, are located in areas deemed to require mine action interventions; these are determined by recent fighting, casualty figures or by the presence of known dangerous areas. The cells are integrated into the wider PRCS structure in the area, and assess the extent and nature of the UXO problem and develop coordinated responses, including collection of information, education, UXO call-out procedures and initiatives aimed at reducing risk.[33 ]

In 2005 through March, 250 personnel had been trained and were active in MRE and mine action initiatives, of whom 65 (40 in the West Bank and 25 in Gaza) are considered to be MRE trainers. With support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), PRCS assists and supports the cells through annual workshops and refresher training events, when security and funding permit. A training-of-trainers workshop for PRCS personnel was held in December 2004 and January 2005, with ICRC support.[34]

In 2005, PRCS concentrated on preparing for the disengagement process from Gaza. During 2004, PRCS personnel provided direct MRE messages to approximately 100,000 people, predominantly children. Messages were delivered through a variety of approaches, including around 600 summer camps for children held in 2004.[35]

During 2005, a series of activities were initiated in support of the disengagement process. Through June, PRCS estimated that 50,000 people had received direct MRE messages, while in addition, children and adults were the focus of many TV and radio slots, along with discussion programs and phone-in shows, informing them of the possible dangers of entering newly evacuated settlement areas. The PRCS program includes messages promoting recognition, and what to do and who to contact if a suspected item is encountered.[36 ]

School and non school-based activities have been developed, with competitions for MRE posters and the creation of an animated film on MRE by children (to be aired on national TV). PRCS also undertakes MRE in safe-play areas, and holds community briefings for those living near settlements.[37 ] While MRE material stresses aspects such as awareness and mine/UXO identification, there is now a need to stress further risk reduction measures, and messages that inform those at risk about what should be done to minimize exposure.[38]

During 2005, following a request from UNICEF, the Palestinian Police undertook an MRE exercise for children playing in or near UNICEF safe-play areas, particularly in Gaza, warning of the dangers of UXO and who to call if they discovered suspected devices. Police also conducted MRE through ad hoc workshops, upon request by UNICEF or PRCS, in UNWRA schools, summer camps and Islamic organization summer camps.[39]

The Civil Defense is an active member of NMAC; based in Gaza, it has over 600 staff and volunteers. Civil Defense staff conduct MRE activities in schools.[40 ]

In 2004, Canada gave the PA C$173,057 (US$132,947) through UNICEF for MRE (TV spots, videos, billboards, banners, information booklets and media campaign).[41]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2004, at least 26 new mine/UXO casualties were recorded by DCI/PS, including two people killed and 24 injured; all were children. Activities at the time of the incidents include playing, grazing animals, helping their families in agricultural work, or collecting (scrap) metal.[42 ] Casualties include a girl killed and her brother injured when a mine exploded in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on 5 June.[43 ] On 6 June, another boy was injured in a mine incident.[44 ] In 2003, 23 mine/UXO casualties (three people killed and 20 injured) were recorded.[45]

On 5 August 2004, one Palestinian was killed, and four other Palestinians and Moroccans were injured, while illegally crossing a minefield on the Greek-Turkish border.[46]

Casualties continued to be recorded in 2005 with DCI/PS reporting four people killed and 16 injured to August; all were civilians and 18 were children.[47 ] Seven casualties were recorded in the Gaza Strip; five were in Bethlehem governorate, two in Jericho, two in Jenin, two in Ramallah, one in Nablus and one in Hebron governorate.[48 ] In one incident in March in the southern border town of Rafah, four children were seriously injured when UXO exploded in a confined residential area.[49 ]

The total number of mine/UXO casualties in the OPT is not known. According to DCI/PS, more than 2,500 people were killed or injured by mines and UXO between 1967 and 1998. Between May 2000 and the end of 2003, Landmine Monitor reported at least 111 mine/UXO casualties (28 people killed and 83 injured), including at least 62 children.[50 ] UNICEF reports 26 children killed and 120 injured by UXO between September 2000 and the end of May 2005.[51 ]

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

Palestinian residents of the OPT are not eligible for medical insurance coverage under the Israeli National Insurance Services (Hamosad Lebituah Leumi). Instead, Palestinian healthcare facilities provide medical care to Palestinian mine and UXO casualties. The most prominent health service providers in the OPT are the Ministry of Health, UNRWA and NGOs.[52 ]

The Ministry of Health is responsible for assisting mine and UXO casualties, who are usually transferred to the closest government hospitals. In the case of very serious injuries, if no hospitals in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip have the capacity to deal with the injuries, the casualty is transferred to Jordan or Egypt, with the Ministry of Health covering the costs.[53]

UNRWA provides an extensive range of services, including a community-based rehabilitation program for refugees with disabilities that includes 37 local centers, and micro-credit schemes. The centers provide basic rehabilitation, referrals, and assist people with disabilities to access vocational training and job opportunities. Between 1 July 2003 and 30 June 2004, 24,903 disabled persons and their families benefited from the program; 967 prosthetic devices were fitted, 132 houses were modified, and 628 disabled children were integrated into the regular school system.[54 ]

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society has a network of ambulances, health clinics and 13 rehabilitation centers, including two new physiotherapy centers that opened in Hebron in March 2005, and a mobile physiotherapy unit in Nablus. The rehabilitation centers also provide psychosocial support.[55 ]

In 2004, ICRC continued to support the Palestinian Ministry of Health with emergency medical supplies and transportation for emergency cases from the West Bank to Jordan. ICRC also held four war surgery seminars in Ramallah, Nablus, Khan Younis and Gaza City.[56]

Other organizations providing physical rehabilitation, psychosocial support and vocational training for casualties of the Intifada and mine/UXO survivors include the Young Men’s Christian Association, Abu Rayya Rehabilitation Center, Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, National Central Committee of Rehabilitation, and Jerusalem Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children.[57]

The 1999 Law Number 4, People with Disability Rights Law, applies to all persons with disabilities, including mine/UXO survivors. The law is gradually being implemented.[58 ] The General Union for Disabled Palestinians, the lead agency for disability issues, is advocating for full implementation of the law. The Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for issues relating to people with disabilities, in consultation with other relevant ministries.

[1 ]In April 2000, an official stated that the PA supported and desired to join the Mine Ban Treaty. Letter from the office of the Palestinian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Gaza, 27 April 2000.

[2 ]In 1999, Col. Nizar Ammar, Head of Planning and Studies, General Security, stated that “landmines are a secondary issue, which will be discussed in final status as a part of the security arrangements.... The matter is very complicated and may lead to hindering the current negotiations in achieving the Palestinian dream of an independent state.” Hadeel Wahdan, “Landmines, the Hidden Terror,” Palestine Report, 22 September 1999.

[3 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1224; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 848-849.

[4 ]On 11 May 2004, news agencies reported that Palestinian militants were responsible for a landmine that destroyed an armored vehicle in Gaza and killed six Israeli soldiers. Most reports attributed the explosion to a landmine, but one article stated that the tank was destroyed by a roadside bomb. Five more Israelis were killed on 12 May 2004, in an explosion for which the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, but most reports attributed the explosion to a homemade rocket and not a landmine. See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1224.

[5 ]“Israeli soldier killed, four wounded in Gaza Strip explosion,” Associated Press (Gaza City), 7 December 2004.

[6] “Israelis reopen stalled talks with Palestinians,” Courier-Mail/Reuters (Jerusalem), 21 January 2005.

[7 ]Email from Kaj Stendorf, Police Advisor, European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EU COPPS), 30 August 2005.

[8 ]Email from Kaj Stendorf, EU COPPS, 30 August 2005.

[9 ]Nathalie Prevost, “Final Report/ Mission Report OPT,” UNICEF, August 2002, p. 7.

[10] Interview with Ali Mograbi, Palestinian Police, Ramallah, 27 March 2003.

[11 ]Laila El-Haddad, “Landmines: Palestine’s hidden danger,” Al Jazeera, 10 January 2004.

[12 ]Nathalie Prevost, “Final Report/ Mission Report OPT,” UNICEF, August 2002, p. 7.

[13 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1125.

[14] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 1056, and Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 850.

[15 ]Telephone interview with Pauline O’Dea, Chief, Child Protection, UNICEF OPT, 19 August 2005. It is not clear who is currently chairing NMAC, following NPA-PC’s withdrawal.

[16 ]Telephone interview with Pauline O’Dea, UNICEF OPT, 19 August 2005.

[17 ]Telephone interview with Julie Myers, Project Officer, Landmines and Small Arms, UNICEF, New York, 16 August 2005.

[18] Telephone interview with Pauline O’Dea, UNICEF OPT, 19 August 2005.

[19 ]Telephone interview with Julie Myers, UNICEF, New York, 16 August 2005.

[20] Telephone interview with Pauline O’Dea, UNICEF OPT, 19 August 2005.

[21 ]Nathalie Prevost, “Final Report/Mission Report OPT,” UNICEF, August 2002, p. 9.

[22 ]NMAC meeting, 14 August 2003. Under the Oslo Agreement, the occupied West Bank is divided into three zones: Zone A would come under exclusive Palestinian control; Zone B under Israeli military occupation in participation with the Palestinian Authority; Zone C under total Israeli occupation.

[23 ]Email from Kaj Stendorf, EU COPPS, 30 August 2005.

[24 ]Email from Kaj Stendorf, EU COPPS, 30 August 2005; Nathalie Prevost, “Unexploded Ordnance and Mine Action in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” UNICEF, August 2002, p. 8.

[25 ]Email from Kaj Stendorf, EU COPPS, 30 August 2005; European Union, “EU Council Secretariat Factsheet: EU Assistance to the Palestinian Civil Police,” pal/02 (update 2), 8 July 2005.

[26 ]European Union, “EU Council Secretariat Factsheet: EU Assistance to the Palestinian Civil Police,” pal/02 (update 2), 8 July 2005.

[27] Email from Kaj Stendorf, EU COPPS, 30 August 2005.

[28 ]Telephone interview with Khaldoun Oweis, Head of Youth and Volunteer Section, PRCS, 24 August 2005.

[29 ]Telephone interview with Pauline O’Dea, UNICEF OPT, 19 August 2005.

[30 ]Information provided to Landmine Monitor by DCI/PS, 18 July 2005.

[31 ]Telephone interview with Khaldoun Oweis, PRCS, 24 August 2005.

[32] Telephone interview with Pauline O’Dea, UNICEF OPT, 19 August 2005.

[33 ]Telephone interview with Khaldoun Oweis, PRCS, 24 August 2005.

[34] Telephone interview with Khaldoun Oweis, PRCS, 24 August 2005.

[35] Telephone interview with Khaldoun Oweis, PRCS, 24 August 2005.

[36 ]Telephone interview with Khaldoun Oweis, PRCS, 24 August 2005.

[37 ]Telephone interview with Khaldoun Oweis, PRCS, 24 August 2005.

[38] Concerns expressed in confidence to Landmine Monitor during research for the 2005 report.

[39] Telephone interview with Pauline O’Dea, UNICEF OPT, 19 August 2005.

[40 ]Nathalie Prevost, “Final Report/Mission Report OPT,” UNICEF, August 2002, p. 10; telephone interview with Khaldoun Oweis, PRCS, 24 August 2005.

[41] Mine Action Investments database; emails from Elvan Isikozlu, Mine Action Team, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Canada, in June through August 2005. Average exchange rate for 2004: US$1 = C$1.3017. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 3 January 2005.

[42 ]Emails to Landmine Monitor (HI) from Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCI/PS, Jerusalem, 20 and 27 August 2005.

[43 ]“Palestinian girl killed in mine blast in central Gaza,” Xinhua (Gaza), 5 June 2004.

[44 ]“Palestinian urges [sic] world to save 14-year-old prisoner,” Xinhua (Gaza), 6 June 2004.

[45] For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1226.

[46] “Palestinian killed in landmine blast on Greece-Turkey border,” Agence France-Presse (Komotini), 5 August 2004.

[47 ]DCI documentation department, analysis of data from 1 January to 31 December 2004, as accessed on 20 August 2005, provided in email to Landmine Monitor (HI) from Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCI/PS, Jerusalem, 20 August 2005.

[48 ]Email to Landmine Monitor (HI) from Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCI/PS, Jerusalem, 20 August 2005.

[49 ]UNICEF, “Humanitarian Action Occupied Palestinian Territory Donor Update,” 12 April 2005, p. 2.

[50 ]For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1226.

[51 ]UNICEF, “Unexploded ordnance in Gaza a real threat to kids,” 11 August 2005.

[52 ]For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 851.

[53] Email to Landmine Monitor (HI) from Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DC/PSI, Jerusalem, 20 August 2005.

[54 ]“Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, 1 July 2003-30 June 2004,” submitted on 19 October 2004, General Assembly, Official Records, Fifty-ninth Session Supplement No. 13 (A/59/13); see also www.un.org/unrwa.

[55 ]For more information on the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, see www.palestinercs.org.

[56] ICRC, “Annual Report 2004,” Geneva, June 2005, p. 287.

[57] Email to Landmine Monitor (HI) from Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCI/PS, Jerusalem, 20 August 2005; see also www.fejh.org/princess_basma.htm.

[58 ]Email to Landmine Monitor (HI) from Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCI/PS, Jerusalem, 20 August 2005; for more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 851.