GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Israel expelled two Palestinians from the West Bank, driving them blindfolded into the Gaza Strip and leaving them at a deserted fig orchard yesterday – the first time Israel has forced relatives of militants to leave their home areas.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemned the court-sanctioned expulsions as a “crime against humanity that violates all human and international laws.”
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan echoed Arafat’s assessment.
“Such transfers are strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law and could have very serious political and security implications,” said Annan spokesman Fred Eckhard.
“While the secretary-general has consistently condemned suicide bombings and upheld Israel’s right to defend itself, he wishes to stress that self-defense cannot justify measures that amount to collective punishments,” Eckhard said.

Paul Wong
AP PHOTO
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell pauses to allow protesters to quiet down during his remarks.

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