Human Rights Watch unreservedly condemns suicide bombings as war crimes and crimes against humanity. We call on those responsible to desist immediately and to renounce their use unconditionally. In particular, Human Rights Watch calls on the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to:
· Cease such attacks immediately and declare publicly that they will not resort to such attacks in the future under any circumstances.
· Commit publicly to respecting the basic principles of international humanitarian law, and instruct all members of their organizations to do so, in particular those principles applying to the protection of civilians during armed conflict and the duty to arrest and deliver to the authorities for prosecution anyone who fails to do so.
· Cease the recruitment or use of persons under eighteen years of age in any military activities, including activities in a support role, and communicate this policy to all supporters of the group.
Human Rights Watch recognizes that in 2002, the Palestinian Authority's capacity to maintain law and order and conduct juridical procedures is greatly diminished. Still, many of the recommendations below can be immediately implemented while others should be acted upon as the capacity of the PA is restored. Human Rights Watch calls on President Yasir Arafat and other senior officials of the Palestinian Authority to:
· Make clear that suicide bombings and other attacks on civilians constitute grave crimes; that those who incite, plan, assist, attempt, or carry out such attacks will face criminal charges; and that the PA will take all possible measures to ensure that they are brought to justice.
· Instruct the law enforcement agencies of the PA to take all possible steps, in accordance with internationally accepted human rights norms, to identify and bring to justice anyone who incites, plans, assists, or attempts to carry out suicide bombings or other attacks against civilians.
· Instruct all members of the Palestinian Authority security forces that they will be severely punished if they provide any assistance, including intelligence, logistical, or other support, to those responsible for planning, assisting, or carrying out suicide bombings or other attacks on civilians. Anyone disobeying such orders should be immediately suspended, arrested, and prosecuted in a civilian court in accordance with international fair trial standards and, if convicted, sentenced to prison terms that reflect the seriousness of their crime.
· Call on all Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to assist the PA in bringing to an end suicide bombings and other attacks against civilians. Such an appeal should state that even if the PA's own law enforcement capacities may be diminished, the PA remains committed to fulfilling its responsibilities to end these atrocities. The PA should also set up hotlines enabling members of the public to phone in with information about potential attacks or perpetrators.
· Utilize all available media and public information systems to communicate the above messages to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and to Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, and to call for an immediate, unconditional, and permanent halt to all suicide bombings and other attacks against civilians. Clarify that the PA does not consider as "martyrs" persons who die in the course of carrying out attacks that deliberately or indiscriminately aim to kill or cause great suffering among civilians.
· Conduct a thorough, independent investigation to identify those persons, including members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades who are responsible for inciting, planning, assisting, or carrying out suicide bombings or other attacks on civilians; arrest such persons; and ensure that they are prosecuted in a civilian court in accordance with international fair trial standards and, if convicted, sentenced to prison terms that reflect the seriousness of their crime. To the extent that these crimes have been carried out by or under the auspices of these organizations, take action immediately to freeze the organization's assets in order to secure them against any future claims for compensation that may be made by or on behalf of the victims.
· Take all feasible measures to prevent the recruitment and use of persons under eighteen years of age in armed hostilities, including the adoption of legal measures to prohibit and criminalize such practices.
· Declare to the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the PA undertakes to apply the provisions of Additional Protocol I of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, in accordance with article 96 (3) of the Protocol.
· Ensure that all measures to prevent or respond to suicide or other attacks against civilians conform to international humanitarian and human rights law.
· Cease targeting police posts and other installations that are part of the Palestinian criminal justice infrastructure when such attacks are solely in reprisal for Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets and do not make an effective contribution to military action.
· Ensure that any restrictions on freedom of movement are implemented only when and where necessary to prevent specific acts of violence. Provide travel permits valid for use in times of closure to judges and law enforcement authorities who are essential to the functioning of the Palestinian criminal justice system. Instruct Israeli security personnel to honor such permits at checkpoints and to facilitate the passage of people holding them.
· Publicly announce that places employed by the PA for the detention of suspects and convicted prisoners will not be the object of military attack and ensure that this policy is followed.
· Ratify Additional Protocol I of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
· All governments, publicly and through diplomatic channels, should refrain from any action that appears to encourage, support or endorse suicide bombings or other attacks against civilians, and use all possible influence with the perpetrator groups to make them cease such attacks immediately and unconditionally. In particular, regional governments should use the public information media available to them to make clear that they oppose such bombings against civilians and consider those who plan or carry them out to be criminals who should be brought to justice, not "martyrs."
· All governments providing or authorizing funding or any other assistance to groups who have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings or other attacks against civilians should cease such support immediately in the absence of a public and verifiable declaration from such groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and the PFLP, that they no longer associate themselves with such crimes and that they are taking effective steps to ensure that their members cease their involvement in such activities and that those who carry out the attacks are brought to justice.