Taxi waiting for passengers outside the closed gate at the main entrance to ‘Azzun. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 2 Feb. 2017

For 2.5 weeks, beginning in late Jan. 2017, the military blocked all vehicular access to and from the Palestinian village of ‘Azzun, as collective punishment for incidents of stone throwing, Molotov-cocktail hurling, and live fire at a major road nearby. The justifications given by the military are unfounded: blocking all traffic is not a relevant security measure - it is designed to pressure residents into taking action within the community to stop these incidents - nor is it an exception to the military’s longstanding policy and actions in the West Bank.

Local resident near the ruins of the trailer home the Civil Administration demolished. Photo by Hussam ‘Abed, B’Tselem, 20 Feb. 2017

This morning, 20 Feb. 2017, the Civil Administration demolished the home of an elderly woman – a trailer donated by a humanitarian aid organization – in the Palestinian community of al-Mehtiwish, which lies near Khan al-Ahmar on land Israel earmarked for expanding the Maale Adumim settlement. The CA also demolished a water pipe in the Jordan Valley which residents of Khirbet al-Hadidiyah and Khirbet Humsah had laid with the help of humanitarian organization, as Israel refuses to hook up these communities to the water grid. The pipe had been restored by residents after being demolished by the CA on 10 Jan. 2017.

Yara ‘Ashur, a medical student in Gaza, studies by the light of a battery-powered lamp. Photo by Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, B’Tselem, 23 Jan. 2017

Gazans have suffered severe power shortages ever since Israel bombed Gaza’s power plant in 2006. Since then, Israel has prevented restoration of the plant and impeded infrastructure repairs and upgrades. As a result, supply is rotated, with residents getting power only 4-8 hours at a time. In 2017, and especially in the cold of mid-winter, it is hard to imagine that in Gaza - not many miles away from Tel Aviv - families must lead their lives without a regular power supply. In accounts given to B’Tselem’s field researchers, local women described the hardships the situation entails.

Civil Administration worker posting a stop-work order on a Khan al-Ahmar structure. Still from footage by B’Tselem field researcher Hussam ‘Abed, 19 Feb. 2017

Yesterday, 19 February 2017, large numbers of Civil Administration personnel and police arrived at the Khan al-Ahmar community, which is located near the settlement of Maale Adumim. They served 39 stop-work orders (a preamble step preceding demolition orders) , which apply to all of the community’s buildings, including its school. The school was built in 2009 and also serves children from other nearby communities. Khan al-Ahmar is situated in an area Israel earmarked for the future expansion of Maale Adumim. In 2016, Israeli authorities demolished 12 dwellings in the community, rendering 60 people homeless, including 35 minors.

Today, 13 February 2017, B’Tselem released a new interactive documentary entitled “The Invisible Walls of Occupation”. Viewers are invited on a virtual tour of the Palestinian village of Burqah, a rural suburb of the city of Ramallah that has become cut off from its urban center through various restrictions imposed by Israel. The documentary has Burqah residents leading viewers on a virtual tour of their village. The project depicts the story of the village and illustrates various aspects of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation. The project was co-produced by B’Tselem and Canadian digital studio Folklore, and is based on a B’Tselem report by the same name.

Shafiqa Jum’ah, 80, who was shoved by a soldier, fell and lost consciousness. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 10 Jan. 2017

In Jan. B’Tselem documented two nighttime incidents of soldiers entering homes in Kafr Qadum, a village west of Nablus: They threatened residents and warned them not to attend the weekly village protests which have been held since 2011 when the road linking the village to Nablus was transferred to the exclusive use of settlers. B’Tselem found that the soldiers acted violently and aggressively, threatened children, and shoved an elderly woman. Such threats violate the right of expression, protest, and demonstration. They are unlawful and must be halted immediately.

In 2016 B’Tselem documented a record number of home demolitions by Israeli authorities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, citing illegal construction as a pretext. Israel demolished 88 homes in East Jerusalem and 274 in the rest of the West Bank, while denying Palestinians any possibility of building legally in these areas. This policy, upheld by all state authorities, severely violates the most fundamental human rights of Palestinians and offers decisive evidence as to Israel’s long-term plans: continued control of the area, while oppressing and dispossessing its residents.

Muhammad Burqan. From “The Boy from H2” by Helen Yanovsky

A short documentary by Helen Yanovsky, “The Boy from H2” - created in collaboration with B’Tselem’s field researchers and Camera Project volunteers in Hebron, and produced by B’Tselem’s video department - will premiere at the 67th Berlinale as part of the Berlinale Shorts competition. The documentary follows 12-year-old Muhammad Burqan, who lives in Area H2 of Hebron, a section of the city under full Israeli control.

A child near the ruins of his home in Khirbet a-Ras al-Ahmar. Photo by 'Aref Daraghmeh, B’Tselem, 7 February 2017.

This morning, Civil Administration (CA) personnel arrived at the community of a-Ras al-Ahmar in the Jordan Valley. They demolished eight structures - including two residential tents - belonging to one of the families in the community. The family of seven, including five minors, was left without a roof over their heads. The CA also demolished six livestock pens that belonged to the family. The community of a-Ras al-Ahmar suffers constant harassment at the hands of the Israeli authorities. Israeli authorities also demolished a livestock pen and two agricultural storehouse in the village of Kardalah.

Ahmad Kharubi. Photo courtesy of the family

After midnight on 22 Dec. 2016, Israeli security forces entered Kafr ‘Aqab in order to seal the home of a person who had committed an attack. They shot and killed Ahmad Kharubi, 19, a resident of al-Birah, who had come with his friends to protest against the sealing. B'Tselem’s investigation shows that, contrary to the military’s claim, Kharubi and his friends could not have posed any danger to the forces. The shooting at Kharubi and his friends was executed unlawfully and without justification – as was the sealing of the home itself.

The report B’Tselem published today shows how Israel has been taking over Palestinian rural space, fragmenting it, dispossessing its residents of land and water, and handing over these areas to settlers. The process is illustrated through a case study of three villages in the Nablus District - ‘Azmut, Deir al-Hatab and Salem - telling what these communities have undergone since Israel established the Elon Moreh settlement nearby. Through this case study, the report illustrates a broader policy Israel has been implementing throughout the West Bank for decades, and in which the settlers play a key role.

Reality check: Almost fifty years of occupation

The occupation is 49 years old. That’s 17,898 days. International law defines occupation as a temporary situation, but after nearly 50 years the reality in the West Bank and Gaza can no longer be considered temporary. It is unreasonable to keep hoping that Israel end this situation of its own volition. As the occupation enters its 50th year, B’Tselem presents the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The facts are well-known. Equally well-known is that standing idly by means perpetuating the current situation. Determined action is needed now to clearly demonstrate the termination of local and international cooperation with the occupation.

B'Tselem has championed human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for over two decades, promoting a future where all Israelis and Palestinians will live in freedom and dignity.

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