Today, B’Tselem announced it would no longer refer complaints to the military’s law enforcement system. We explain this unusual decision in our new report, The Occupation's Fig Leaf: Israel's Military Law Enforcement System as a Whitewash Mechanism, which is based on hundreds of complaints B’Tselem has filed, dozens of military investigations and many meetings with officials. We will continue reporting violations but will no longer help a whitewash mechanism that also, in advance, absolves senior military and government officials of responsibility for the policy they set out.

The building damaged in the fire. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem, 17 April 2016.

In April 2016, Israeli forces blew up a safe in a money-changing store in al-Birah, Area A, having refused to let the owner’s son open it for them. This caused a fire that destroyed several stores and a warehouse. They made no attempt to put out the fire and delayed a Palestinian firetruck on its way there. The incident illustrates how easily security forces damage Palestinian property and shows up Israel’s cynical use of the formal division into Areas A, B and C as, in practice, the occupation continues throughout the West Bank.

Civil Administration personnel dismantling trailers in Badu al-Baba, covered by border police officers, May 16, 2016. Photo courtesy of the community.

On Monday, 16 May 2016, a large force of Civil Administration and Border Police personnel arrived in the Badu al-Baba community, near al-‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem. The forces dismantled and confiscated ten trailers, which were home to 49 people, including 23 minors. The trailers were recently donated by a humanitarian aid agency to families who had until then lived in tin and wood shacks. The community has about 350 members, roughly half of them minors, and lives in the area designated by Israel as Area E1, where it plans to expand the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to create a contiguous urban link to Jerusalem.

Monzer al-Kassass in the electric car he built himself. Still from video.

What do you do when there’s no electricity or access to advanced technology? Enterprise, innovation and ingenuity try to fill the void. Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, a B’Tselem field researcher in the Gaza Strip, brings us a portrait of Gaza as seen through his own eyes. A third installment in a series.

Car lane Maram Abu Isma’il and Ibrahim Taha entered at Qalandiya Checkpoint. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B’Tselem, 5 May 2016

On 27 April 2016 a brother and sister were shot dead as they approached Qalandiya Checkpoint. The sister was apparently carrying a knife. B’Tselem’s investigation indicates they were killed without justification and could have been arrested, and that they received no medical aid. This incident is one of dozens of unjustified killings since Oct. 2015, some tantamount to executions. Such incidents are possible due to a public atmosphere in Israel that encourages the killing of Palestinian assailants. Senior political and military figures, including the prime minister, minister and the attorney general, have implicitly or explicitly supported this approach.

Palestinian protesters stand at Israeli border fence. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters, 13 October 2015

On 10 October 2015, soldiers arrested six Gazan youths who crossed the perimeter fence into Israel during a demonstration and held them at a military base for three days. Three of them, minors, told B’Tselem they were held handcuffed out in the open, subjected to beatings and degradation, and denied food, drink and sleep. The fact that soldiers can so easily turn a military base into an exterritorial area in which they can treat minors as they please is, in part, due to a law enforcement system which has long enabled security establishment personnel to use violence against detainees, including minors, without any accountability.

Still from video.

Yesterday (4 May) Raed Abu a-Rmeileh, a former B’Tselem camera volunteer, and two friends were assaulted by settlers when Abu a-Rmeileh tried to film them harassing two girls with a dog. He was hit on the head with a drink can and knocked to the ground. The settlers then assaulted his friends and fled. Soldiers present did nothing to stop the attack or help Abu a-Rmeileh, who was later taken to hospital with a light head injury. After his release today, he filed a police complaint, provided the footage and identified the assailants’ photos.

Dalia and Wissam 'Ashur. Photo: Mu’taz al-‘Azayzeh

Nine years have passed since Israel began its blockade on Gaza, paralyzing the job market in an area inhabited by two million people. The right to work and make a decent living are both basic human rights. On 1 May 2016, we highlighted the stories of four professionals desperate for work in Gaza.

Israeli military vehicles in a Palestinian quarry in Beit Fajar. Photo: Said Derya, March 20

In March 2016, Israeli forces shut down operations in several Palestinian quarries in Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem, assaulting laborers and confiscating essential equipment. According to quarry owners, these raids have occurred for years but have recently intensified. Israel systematically prevents Palestinian quarries from operating in the West Bank while allowing Israeli ones to operate there undisturbed, in breach of international law, as part of a policy to push Palestinian activity into enclaves and de facto annex the rest of the West Bank.

Ruins of Abu a-Rob family’s home, Qabatiyah. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 4 April 2016.

Since Oct. 2015, Israel has demolished or sealed 37 homes to punish relatives of Palestinians who attacked Israelis or were suspected of such attacks, leaving 149 people homeless, including 65 minors. Dozens more homes were measured as preparation, forcing 339 people, incl. 128 minors, to live under threat of demolition. Though this collective punishment is unlawful and immoral, the HCJ continues to routinely approve demolition orders. The Supreme Court President has refused recent calls by some justices to revisit the issue.

Ruins of structure demolished by authorities, Bir al-Maskub. Photo by Mus’ab ‘Abbas, B’Tselem, 7 April 2016

On 7 April 2016, Israeli authorities carried out extensive demolitions in six Palestinian communities in the West Bank, five near the Ma’ale Adummim settlement and one, Khirbet Tana, in the Jordan Valley. Authorities demolished nearly all structures in Kh. Tana; it is the fourth demolition the community has undergone since February. All told, 34 structures, including 19 homes, 12 livestock pens, and three entrances to cave dwellings were demolished, leaving 112 people homeless, including 55 minors. Since January 2016, demolitions in Area C communities have left 563 people homeless, including 305 minors.

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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