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Middle East: Armed Conflict

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the number of acts of terrorism which have been committed by proscribed armed Palestinian groups in (a) the West Bank and East Jerusalem and (b) Israel in the last 12 months; (229895)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of acts of violence committed by Palestinians against Israeli civilians in (a) the West Bank and East Jerusalem and (b) Israel in the last 12 months.

The vast majority of attacks against Israeli civilians in the past year have been rocket attacks fired from Gaza at towns in the south of Israel. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has stated that over 1,000 rockets and 1,000 mortars have been fired from Gaza towards Israel since the beginning of 2008. Three Israeli civilians have been killed. We welcome the ceasefire which since June has very significantly reduced the number of these attacks.

According to the Israeli MFA 14 other Israeli civilians have been killed in attacks by Palestinians in Israel since the beginning of this year. And according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) two Israeli civilians have been killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem during 2008.

We do not hold figures for all acts of violence since reporting is inconsistent. The responsibility for individual attacks is difficult to ascribe because rival groups often claim responsibility for individual attacks. However, we believe that the majority of rocket attacks and attacks on the area surrounding the Gaza Strip during 2008 as well as the suicide attack in Dimona were carried out by Hamas. Other significant organisations thought to have launched rockets are Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received reports from the Israeli government on acts of terrorism committed by Israeli settlers and settler organisations in (a) the West Bank and East Jerusalem and (b) Israel in the last 12 months. (229896)

We have received no such direct reports from the Israeli government. However we are deeply concerned at the rising number of violent attacks—principally against Palestinian civilians but also against Israeli military personnel—carried out by Israelis living in illegal settlements. These include reports of rocket attacks against Palestinian villages. The Israeli government, including the Prime Minister, has condemned the violence carried out by the settlers. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised this with Defence Minister Ehud Barak, on 20 October.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of acts of violence which have been committed by Israeli military personnel against Palestinian civilians in (a) the West Bank and East Jerusalem and (b) Israel in the last 12 months. (229897)

We have not made an estimate of the total number of acts of violence committed by Israeli military personnel against Palestinian civilians. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) records that between July 2007 and July 2008, 76 Palestinians were killed and 1,200 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a result of incidents directly related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.