B'Tselem in the Media

13 Jul 2015

A Palestinian youth who died after being shot in the back by a senior Israeli military commander was running away and posing no threat, a human rights group has found.

The findings of a probe by the Israeli group B'Tselem into the death of Mohammed Ali Kosba, 17, on July 3, is backed up by video evidence and contradicts assertions by senior politicians and the army high command that the officer acted in self-defence because his life was in danger.

This month's shooting was unusual because it involved a senior officer who was publicly identified: Colonel Yisrael Shomer, a commander of the Binyamin Brigade, which covers Jerusalem and surrounding areas.

13 Jul 2015

On Monday, B'Tselem released video footage recorded by a security camera at the petrol station showing the moments before the shooting. It shows a person believed to be Kasbeh running at the Israeli army vehicle as it passes by and throwing a stone. He then runs away as the car then brakes suddenly and at least two soldiers get out, brandishing weapons.

In a statement, B'Tselem said the footage showed Col Shomer's claim of self-defence was "unreasonable". "There is no doubt that the shattering of the jeep's front window with a stone endangered the passengers when it happened. However, Kasbeh was shot in the back after the fact, when he was already running away and posing no 'mortal threat' to the soldiers. Feeling a sense of danger is not enough to justify any action."

6 Jul 2015

Op-ed by B'Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad
Anti-Semitism is a real danger, as constant recent reminders in Western Europe and other parts of the world show. The fact that 70 years after the Holocaust this specific form of racism is not only still prevalent but actually on the rise is shocking – and an issue that must be addressed proactively, by educators, politicians and public leaders.

A world that tolerates anti-Semitism is morally unacceptable; a world with growing anti-Semitism is dangerous – and not only for Jews.

Anti-occupation is not anti-Semitism. This may seem like an obvious, self-evident, statement. But as the efforts to obscure and identify the two grow, it is important to clearly make this distinction, and to explain the immorality and danger of such cynical endeavors.

24 Jun 2015

This was the first Friday of Ramadan, when the Palestinian mayor of Hebron announced that 70 of the 300-odd shops on al-Sahla Street could reopen. But the Israeli military insisted that it had agreed to only seven, citing security concerns in a place where clashes with settlers are common. So al-Sahla, once a thriving marketplace off the storied Shuhada Street, remained a ghost town, as the Israeli human rights group B’tselem termed it in 2007.
“The declared commitment to free movement and unity of the city was rendered meaningless,” the group’s 2007 report says, citing a new curfew and street closings that led Palestinians to abandon more than 1,000 apartments above the shuttered storefronts. “What was once the vibrant heart of Hebron has become a ghost town.”

22 Jun 2015

B’Tselem was set to publish early Monday a report that argues that pre-verdict detention of Palestinians in the IDF’s West Bank courts forces huge numbers of Palestinians into plea bargains and turns the whole system into a “hollow formality.”
The extremely thorough 41-page report, based on 260 case files, gathers an unprecedented amount of data from both independent and IDF sources on the topic and includes a myriad of quotations from hard-to-get IDF court opinions which explain a wide range of issues.

22 Jun 2015

Israeli military courts routinely order Palestinian defendants held until a verdict is reached, turning legal proceedings into a “hollow formality,” an Israeli rights group said Monday. Remand to custody is “the rule rather than the exception,” the group B’Tselem said in a report. It said most defendants enter plea bargains because waiting for trial means more time behind bars.
B’Tselem said it based its findings on partial figures because full statistics are not made public. The Israeli military said the report used “selected examples in a biased manner which distorts the reality of the situation.” Thousands of Palestinians appear before military courts every year on charges ranging from stone-throwing to membership in outlawed groups, violence and weapons offenses.

31 May 2015

Op-Ed by B'Tselem Executive director Hagai El-Ad
All this is shameful. And one of the occupation’s most shameful aspects is the democratic facade that obscures an undemocratic and oppressive reality. Israel’s use of military force against Palestinians is one variety of violence. Its patronizing disregard for millions of subjects, while boasting of its own “celebration of democracy,” is violence of another kind — violence to history, reality and the truth.
A day will come when this occupation ends. It may end with one state, two states, or something else. That specific political choice is beyond the deeper question of human rights, as long as the option eventually chosen respects the human rights of all. For now, the one choice we cannot make is to continue calling the current reality democratic and the occupation temporary.

28 May 2015

A Civil Administration inspector accompanied by soldiers arrived Sunday morning in Susya to take photos and measurements of village structures, further stoking fears among its Palestinian residents that they will be expelled from their homes at any moment. Nasser Nawajeh, a resident, longtime activist and volunteer with B’Tselem, took the following photo of the official, who goes by the name Carlos.

26 May 2015

I went to the 1:45 A.M. lecture about West Bank settlements, given by Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem (“In the image of”), a Jerusalem-based organization that monitors human rights violations. Because of the title — “Intractable Impermanence: 47 Years of ‘Temporary’ Occupation” — I worried that this session would also feel virulently political. Far from it. El-Ad gave a complex, undogmatic primer on the varying levels of Israeli control in the West Bank and the ramifications.
I asked him if he thought anti-settlement sentiment now translates to anti-Israel sentiment as a result of the charged political climate. “There are three separate issues: anti-Israel feeling, anti-Semitism and anti-occupation,” he answered. “They get lumped together, but they’re different. We at B’Tselem are anti-occupation.”

20 May 2015

Israeli civil rights groups lauded Netanyahu's reversal but criticized the government for even considering the plan. Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman for B'Tselem, a human rights group, said the proposal drew attention to broader policies of separation and discrimination in the West Bank.
Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to two sets of laws, different rules for land development and in some cases, even travel on separate roads, she said. Israeli settlers are permitted to vote in Israeli elections, while Palestinians are not. "Even though this specific issue was put on hold, actually separation, segregation and discrimination have been around for a long time," she said.