The UN report on the 2014 Gaza conflict rejects Israeli government and military officials’ view of what is permissible in combat in densely populated areas. The UN commission’s premise differs from that of these officials, seeing Gaza as the home of over 1.5 million civilians where combat took place, not as a battlefield on which civilians live. The report states that the immense harm to civilians during the fighting cannot be justified nor can IHL be interpreted so as to legalize it, even considering the modus operandi of Hamas and other armed groups. The commission also found that the responsibility for violating IHL rests with the senior political and military officials who drew up the policy and did not change it even when its lethal consequences became clear.
In 7 days throughout June, Israel temporarily displaced hundreds of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley from their homes in order to hold military maneuvers, bringing the total since the beginning of 2015 to 20 such days. The displacements disrupt the residents’ lives and cause various difficulties, including burnt farmland in some cases, as part of a deliberate effort to pressure the communities to leave the area permanently. Israel must halt this policy immediately and enable Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley to live undisturbed.
Media reports state that Khader ‘Adnan’s legal counsel and Israel’s military prosecution have reached an agreement whereby ‘Adnan will end his hunger strike immediately and be released from administration detention on 12 July 2015. ‘Adnan, who lives in ‘Araba in the West Bank, was striking to protest being held in administrative detention for a cumulative period of nearly six years, without any charges being brought against him.
B’Tselem has recently documented dozens of cases near Ramallah in which Israeli security forces injured Palestinians, some of them severely, with live gunfire. Most injuries are apparently the result of.22 inch bullets, whose impact is less than that of “ordinary” bullets but can still cause grave, even fatal injuries. The regular use of live fire against demonstrators in breach of regulations indicates that it is part of a policy, an unlawful policy. B’Tselem calls on security forces to stop firing live ammunition at unarmed civilians, except in extreme cases of immediate mortal danger.
On 2 June 2015 the Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers with police escort, arrived to the Abu Khaled family home in Silwan, to demolish two apartments built by the family. The family had no choice but to build without a permit since Jerusalem Municipality policy is to deny permits to residents of this and other Palestinian neighborhoods. One family member climbed to the roof to try to prevent the demolition. He was pepper-sprayed, forcibly taken off the roof, and arrested by the police. Relatives who demanded his release were also attacked with pepper-spray and physical violence. City workers demolished the two apartments.
On several nights in April and May 2015, soldiers entered the homes of 20 Palestinian families in the villages of ‘Awarta and Madama. In each home the soldiers, some of whom were masked, ordered that everyone there be awakened, including children. They wrote down the details of the family members and the house, and took photographs of the building. Military officials told the media about training in the area which included this type of activity. B’Tselem documented four separate incidents of this type, indicating that this is a policy of blatant disrespect for Palestinians’ right to live undisturbed.
Khader ‘Adnan is on the 49th day of a hunger strike to protest his lengthy administrative detention and there is now fear for his life. Israel is advancing a bill to allow force-feeding in such cases, although the international medical community agrees that this is a prohibited violation of the right to personal autonomy, dignity, and protest. B’Tselem again calls on the government to change its administrative detention policy, which defies international law, instead of drastically punishing people protesting their unlawful detention.
The UN commission of inquiry into last summer’s fighting in Gaza recommended an international criminal investigation against Israel and Hamas. This is aimed primarily at the leaders on both sides, rather than at the ground forces. Despite the horrifying and predictable results, top military and government officials in Israel ordered that the lethal policy of massive bombings in Gaza be continued. Denial and passing the buck cannot be the only response to such serious findings. A healthy society should face the criticism and thoroughly investigate the allegations of serious human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law.
On Friday 19 June 2015, a Palestinian shot two Israelis in their car by the ‘Ein Bubin natural spring near Ramallah, killing one and wounding the other. The man killed was 25-year-old Danny Gonen, a resident of the city of Lod, Israel. B’Tselem expresses shock at the killing and conveys its sincerest condolences to the Gonen family and its wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded man. B’Tselem harshly condemns any deliberate attack on civilians.
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.
Yesterday, 17 June 2015, the military again displaced residents of the Palestinian communities of Khirbet al-Malih, ‘Ein al-Meyteh and al-Burj for military training near their homes. Together, the three communities are home to 29 families numbering 180 members, more than a hundred of them minors. On 8 June 2015, Civil Administration officials came to the communities and gave residents orders to evacuate their homes on 11 and 17 June between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Yesterday’s displacement was the fourth imposed on these communities this year, after they were told to leave their homes twice in May and on 11 June, for military training.
Since the Nov. 2014 attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in which Palestinians killed four worshippers and wounded seven, the authorities have threatened punitive action against the assailants’ families: demolition of the homes and deportation the wife of one of them, Nadia Abu al-Jamal. She and her children may be cut off from family and friends and denied many official services. The children would lose their state health insurance. Israel must stop punitive measures against family members who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
Yesterday, 16 June 2015, ten families numbering 69 members, 43 of them minors, from Khirbet Humsah were forced to leave their homes for seven hours to make way for military training in the area. When military forces arrived at the community in the morning, they told the ten evacuated families and five additional families that they would be required to leave their homes again on 22 and 25 June 2015 from 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The families vacated their homes for seven hours last week, and in May, families from the community were evacuated seven times due to military drills. Over the past two years, residents of Khirbet Humsah were displaced more than forty times for military drills. The repeated displacement of community members in favor of military drills causes an ongoing disruption to their lives.
In March 2014, soldiers killed Yusef a-Shawamreh, 14, as he crossed the Separation Barrier to pick edible plants for his family. He was shot although he posed no danger, in broad daylight. In July 2014, the MAG Corps declared the investigation closed with no charges. Examination of the military file revealed a sloppy investigation and corroborated B’Tselem’s suspicion of unlawful conduct in the incident. The MAG Corps effectively sanctioned this conduct by accepting a flawed investigation and releasing the commanders from accountability.
Yesterday, 10 June, the military again evacuated Palestinian residents of Khirbet Humsah from their homes for 7 hours so soldiers could train on their land. The residents returned to find their farmland burnt and unexploded ammunition nearby. They are to be evacuated again on 16 June. The military also served three other communities in the area, similarly evacuated last month, with evacuation orders for 11 and 17 June. Israel must immediately stop this and other actions taken as part of the policy to expel Palestinians from the Jordan Valley.
On 4 June 2015, Civil Administration officials demolished five tents and several livestock pens in the Palestinian shepherding community of al-Mukasar in the northern Jordan Valley. Aid organizations provided the families who were left homeless with new tents. This latest act is part of a longstanding Israeli policy to displace thousands of Palestinians who live in dozens of small communities throughout Area C, to enable de facto annexation of this part of the West Bank to Israel.
On 7 April 2015, during the Passover holidays, hundreds of settlers accompanied by Israeli security forces came to Birkat al-Karmil, a natural pool recently renovated by the Yatta Municipality as part of a new park in Area A. The troops instructed Palestinian bathers to leave the pool and the center of the park, clearing it for the exclusive use of the settlers. The incident illustrates the conduct of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank: catering to almost every settler whim at the expense of Palestinians. B'Tselem wrote to the IDF Spokesperson requesting a response to the incident, including a series of detailed questions. The IDF Spokesperson replied with a laconic response that offers no explanation for the authorities' conduct in the incident.
It’s been 48 years since 1967. Decades of rule over another people, of trampling its rights in all spheres of life amounts to a permanent situation, not the temporary one that is the very definition of occupation.
This “temporary” state cannot go on forever, but Israel’s government does not believe the occupation must end. We do.
Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories is nearing the half-century mark, and Israel’s new right-wing government offers little hope of ending it. Nevertheless, the new government promises something else of value: clarity. And with that clarity, the opportunity to challenge the prolonged lie of the occupation’s “temporary” status. For if the occupation has become permanent in all but its name, what about the voting rights of Palestinians?
The High Court of Justice is enabling the Civil Administration to demolish the village of Khirbet Susyiya, in effect ejecting the residents from their land, even as their petition appealing the rejection of their master plan for the village is still pending. At any moment, the Civil Administration might now demolish the village homes, leaving the residents with no shelter in harsh desert conditions. This mode of operation by the Israeli authorities allows them to take over additional lands and drive out communities from Area C. The absence of official annexation aside, the reality of the matter is that annexation and dispossession are already here in actual fact.