"Vengeance" - Graffiti in Duma this morning. Photo: Salma a-Deb'i, B'Tselem

The killing of a one and a half year old infant, 'Ali Sa'ed Dawabshe, and the serious injury of his mother Riham and toddler brother 'Ahmed, after a suspected arson attack by Israeli civilians burned their home, was only a matter of time. This, due to the authorities' policy to avoid enforcing the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians and their property. This policy creates impunity for hate crimes, and encourages assailants to continue, leading to this morning's horrific result.

Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her children. Photo: courtesy of the family

On 22 Jul. 2015 the HCJ okayed deportation of Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her 3 children from their E. J’alem home as punishment for an attack her husband perpetrated. The justices denied the petition filed by NGO HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual on behalf of Abu al-Jamal. Deportation would not have been possible had not successive Israeli governments, with the approval of the HCJ, created an impossible reality in Jerusalem that forced Abu al-Jamal to live as a stranger in her husband’s home, in a spot not far from her childhood home. The two homes had been a part of the same community until Israel occupied the area and split it up.

Photo: Sharon Azran, B'Tselem

The present struggle of Susiya’s residents is the latest chapter in a saga of decades of dispossession. These are the facts.

Playground at Khirbet Susiya. Background: Buildings of the settlement of Susiya. Photo by Sharon Azran.

B’Tselem’s Board and staff have recently visited Kh. Susiya to meet with its residents, including our field researcher in the South Hebron Hills, Nasser Nawaj’ah. Last Friday hundreds of activists also came there to show solidarity. Now that the HCJ enabled demolition even prior to the hearing scheduled for the residents’ petition, the Civil Administration might demolish the village homes at any time, leaving residents with no shelter in harsh desert conditions. This mode of operation allows Israeli authorities to take over lands and drive out communities from Area C. Photos by Sharon Azran and Helen Yanovsky.

In a letter sent this morning to the Civil Administration, representatives of the village of Susiya demanded that the authorities freeze all the demolitions planned over the coming days in the village. The letter was sent after it emerged that the scale of destruction the state seeks to sow in Susiya is much greater than was previously thought, and includes almost half the structures in the village. If the structures are demolished, the residents will have no way to survive in the area in conditions of extreme heat and cold. Accordingly, the action effectively constitutes the expulsion of the residents from their land.

One of the orders posted in the area. Photo: Muhammad Abu Hummus, resident of al-‘Esawiyah, July 2015

In Sep. 2014 Israel’s National Planning and Construction Committee appeals sub-committee said plans for the Mt. Scopus Slopes National Park could not be approved without considering the needs of the neighborhoods whose development would be curtailed by the park, and returned it to the District Committee for reconsideration. In July 2015, with a new decision still pending, the Jerusalem Municipality posted “Landscaping Orders for a Vacant Lot” – normally used for small public gardens – for the 70 hectares slated for the park, aiming to block any possible development in the neighborhoods.

Yihya al-‘Amudi at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, West Jerusalem, 21 May 2015. Photograph courtesy of the family.

On 21 May 2015, Yihya al-‘Amudi, 10, lost his eye after being hit by a black sponge round fired at him by an Israeli Border Police officer. This ammunition, used by the police since last year, does not cause severe injury if used according to regulations. However, ACRI has documented numerous instances in which sponge rounds were fired contrary to regulations, resulting in injuries to individuals not involved in clashes and killing one 15-year-old. Lack of accountability for wrongful firing makes the next lethal incident only a matter of time.

A new report B’Tselem published today indicates that remand in custody is the rule rather than the exception for Palestinian defendants. Most cases, therefore, end in plea bargains. To all intents and purposes, the Israeli military court appears to be a court like any other. There are prosecutors and defense attorneys. There are rules of procedure, laws and regulations. There are judges who hand down rulings and verdicts couched in reasoned legal language. Nonetheless, this façade of propriety masks one of the most injurious apparatuses of the occupation. The rules of Israeli law, ostensibly applied to the military court, have been rendered essentially meaningless - merely serving to whitewash the flaws of the military court system.

Muhammad 'Ali-Kosba, 17. Photo courtesy of the family.

B'Tselem's findings indicate that Muhammad 'Ali-Kosba threw a stone at the windshield of Binyamin Brig. Commander Shomer, shattering it, and then fled with other teens. Col. Shomer and another soldier pursued them on foot. Shomer shot 'Ali-Kosba from a distance of some ten meters, hitting him in the face and in the back. B'Tselem's investigation indicates 'Ali-Kosba posed no mortal threat to the soldiers at the time of the shooting. Sweeping support for Shomer's action conveys this message to troops: shooting a Palestinian stone thrower is acceptable, even desirable, even if the person is fleeing and no longer a threat.

Still from footage.

Seven years ago, a military officer fired a rubber-coated metal bullet at Eran Cohen’s leg at a demonstration against the Separation Barrier in Bil’in. Three and a half years ago, the MAG decided to close the investigation. B’Tselem appealed the decision two years ago, arguing there is sufficient evidence to indict the officer. In March 2015, the MAG Corps notified B’Tselem that the investigation had been reopened to try and glean new evidence from the video footage in the case file. B’Tselem had sent in the footage shortly after the incident.

The bombings of the Gaza Strip began a year ago today. For hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, last summer’s nightmare has become an ongoing reality. There are now some 100,000 displaced persons in Gaza living with relatives or in rented homes, in tents, or in the ruins of their old homes. Nearly 20,000 houses were partly or completely destroyed last summer, and hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza still live in 150,000 damaged residences. After the fighting ended, B'Tselem continued to publicize the stories of Gazans who are still dealing with its consequences.

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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