On Tuesday, 21 May 2013, the IDF spokesperson and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories announced that the prime minister and the minister of defense had authorized the IDF to extend the fishing range in the Gaza Strip from three to six nautical miles. This decision comes after two months during which the range had been reduced in the wake of missile fire from Gaza into Israel. Reduction of the fishing range in response to missile fire constitutes collective punishment which is prohibited by international law and also severely harms fishermen’s livelihood.
Over 500 Gazan men, including 14 minors, are currently being held as prisoners and detainees in Israel. In July 2012, after a five-year hiatus, family visits to Gazan inmates in Israel were resumed. From that time until 22 April 2013, most of the inmates have received visits. Israel permits inmates to be visited by their parents, wives and children under eight years old; children over eight, siblings and grandparents are not allowed to visit. Permission for children under the age of eight to visit their imprisoned fathers was granted only in May 2013. B’Tselem calls upon the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to allow all first-degree relatives, including children of all ages, to visit Gazans being held in Israel.
On 9 September 2012 B’Tselem contacted the Dept. for the Investigation of Police (DIP) demanding an investigation of Border Police officers who allegedly assaulted Sa’id Qiblawi, 14. According to testimonies B’Tselem collected, Qiblawi was arrested near his home by Border Police who were being stoned. A policeman dragged Qiblawi along the ground and put him into a jeep, where he was beaten. On 2 May 2013 the DIP informed B’Tselem that upon conclusion of the investigation, the case was closed for lack of evidence. B’Tselem applied to the DIP on behalf of the complainant’s family, requesting the investigative material in order to explore the option of appealing the closing of the case.
After several months of field research and crosschecking data, human rights organization B’Tselem published a report today (Thursday, 9 May 2013) reviewing harm to civilians in Operation Pillar of Defense. The report provides statistics on the numbers of Palestinians and Israelis killed over the course of the operation, which lasted from 14 to 21 November 2012. The report challenges the common perception in the Israeli public and media that the operation was “surgical” and caused practically no fatalities among uninvolved Palestinian civilians. Furthermore, the report finds that there was a significant difference between the first and the final days of the operation: of the uninvolved Palestinian fatalities, 80% were killed in the last four days of the operation.
On Tuesday, 30 April 2013, immediately following the stabbing attack in which a Palestinian killed Evyatar Borovsky, a resident of the settlement Yitzhar, dozens of settlers from Yitzhar began revenge attacks against the adjacent Palestinian villages. Settlers also stoned cars driving on route 60, in the vicinity of the settlement. B'Tselem volunteers in the villages documented the events with video cameras from their homes and vantage points in the area.
On 3 April 2013 soldiers standing near the guard tower at the ‘Anabta/Einav checkpoint shot and killed two Palestinians. Press reports indicate that the soldiers had advance warning of the Palestinians’ approach to the checkpoint and were waiting for them outside the military guard tower. B’Tselem’s inquiry indicates that soldiers may have acted in contravention of open-fire regulations.
Two years after the State Attorney’s Office announced a change to the military’s investigative policy, B'Tselem follows up the cases of civilians killed by the military in the West Bank. The information demonstrates that some of the investigations are of unreasonably lengthy duration. In other cases, the decision on how the case ought to be handled is delayed at the level of the MAG Corps. This type of investigative policy diminishes the prospects for an effective criminal proceeding, constituting a serious infringement of both the principle of the rule of law and the power to deter and prevent similar incidents.
On 24 April 2013, as has been a frequent occurrence of late, settlers from Giv’at Gal came onto the privately owned land of the Zaro family, of Hebron. The landowners called the police to report the trespassing. Israeli soldiers came to the scene and, rather than sending the settlers away, arrested the Palestinians. Part of the incident was filmed by a volunteer in B’Tselem’s camera project. The detainees were released the following day by a military judge after this footage was presented in court and it was proven that the there was no justification for the arrest, which involved violence towards one of the Zaros.
International Workers’ Day commemorates the historic struggle for the eight-hour workday. Over a century after that goal was achieved, Palestinian workers are still fighting for basic labor rights, primarily their right to work without risking their lives. Israel, whose military rule of the West Bank began nearly 46 years ago, does not promote economic development there and strictly limits the number of Palestinians given permits to work in Israel. This policy primarily harms Palestinians who have no choice but to enter Israel illegally, and are thereby exposed to exploitation and their rights abused. As long as Israel prevents Palestinian economic development, it must grant work permits to Palestinians and ensure their social rights.
B’Tselem strongly condemns the stabbing attack at Tapuah Junction on Tuesday, 30 April, in which a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli civilian to death. The casualty is Evyatar Borovsky, approximately 30 years old, father of five children and resident of the settlement of Yizhar near Nablus.There is absolutely no moral or legal justification for attacks that deliberately target civilians. Civilians must be kept separate from the fighting. This applies to countries, organizations and individuals.
In March the Jerusalem Magistrate Court handed down a sentence for a Border policeman convicted of attacking a Palestinian child, Yunes Abu Ermeileh, in Hebron in 2009. The Department for the Investigation of Police (PID) opened its inquiry into the incident following a complaint filed by B’Tselem. Indictments of police on charges of violence against Palestinians are extremely rare. Of the more than 280 complaints lodged by B’Tselem of alleged police violence since the start of the second Intifada, we are aware of only 12 indictments.
The media have reported that on 18 March 2013 an Israeli soldier was convicted of negligent homicide in the death of ‘Udai Darawish. On 12 Jan. 2013 the soldier shot Darawish after the latter crossed into Israel from the West Bank through a gap in the Separation Barrier. Darawish was on his way to work in Israel but had no entry permit. The prosecution reportedly intended to charge the soldier with homicide, but the charge was reduced through a plea bargain. The soldier’s sentence is yet to be given. Indictments of soldiers involved in killing Palestinians are extremely rare. B’Tselem knows of only 15 indictments in such cases since the outbreak of the second Intifada.
Over the past three years, B’Tselem has documented 18 incidents in which demonstrators and photographers reported the use of pepper-spray in contravention of official police orders, with police pepper-spraying unarmed, non-violent civilians. Five of these incidents were captured on video. In the latest incident, a B’Tselem’s camera project volunteer was filming a demonstration in the village of a-Nabi Saleh when he was pepper-sprayed in the face by a Border policeman.
On 21 March 2013 the IDF spokesperson announced that the Israeli military will once again reduce the permitted fishing range in the Gaza Strip from six nautical miles to three (approximately 5.5km), in response to missile fire by armed Palestinian groups towards the south of Israel on Thursday morning. The reduction constitutes collective punishment and severely damages the livelihood of Gaza fishermen .B'Tselem calls on the military to rescind its latest decision and the restrictions imposed on fishermen in the Gaza Strip in the past years, and to permit fishing in the 20 miles range, as was set under the Oslo Agreements.
On the morning of 20 March 2013, the Israeli military detained nearly 30 Palestinian minors on their way to school in Hebron, many of whom were under the age of criminal responsibility (12). Later that day, B’Tselem wrote to the Legal Advisor in Judea and Samaria, the Legal Advisor of the Israel Police and to the spokesperson for the Judea and Samaria Division regarding this issue. The officials confirmed that, further to a stone-throwing incident earlier that morning, the military apprehended 27 minors, including at least 14 under the age of 12. Later, the military released 20 of the minors to the custody of the Palestinian Authority. The other seven minors were questioned by the police. B’Tselem stressed the following: minors should not be questioned without their parents’ knowledge and the presence of an adult representative on their behalf; the police is duty-bound to inform parents immediately upon the detention of their children; it is unlawful to detain or transport minors under the age of 12.
In January 2013, B'Tselem documented two extremely worrying cases of Israeli military dogs assaulting Palestinian civilians, one in the city of Jenin and the other in the village of Tamun. In both cases, dogs attacked civilians in or near their homes. The dogs were in the company of military forces that entered residential areas. In one case, an 88-year-old woman from Jenin was assaulted inside her home and had to undergo several operations for her injuries. B'Tselem reported these cases to OC Judea and Samaria Division and demanded that the use of dogs in residential areas of the West Bank be prohibited.
Israeli Hebrew daily Haaretz reports that today Israel's High Court of Justice will hear the petition filed by Palestinians from Bethlehem and the village of Nahleh. The petition is against Israel's decision to declare as "state land" about 1,000 dunams (100 hectares) southwest of Bethlehem in order to build a new neighborhood in the settlement of Efrat. The takeover of this land would block any possibility of development in Bethlehem or the villages south of the city, which are home to tens of thousands and are already surrounded by settlements. To learn more about what declaration of state land means and how Israel uses it to take over Palestinian land, click here.
On 3 March 2013, B’Tselem filed an appeal against the decision of the MAG Corps’ not to indict in the case of Eran Cohen, an Israel civilian injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet during a demonstration in Bil’in on 14 March 2008. Cohen was shot by an Israeli officer despite having done nothing to endanger the soldiers, as can be seen in two separate videos of the incident that were conveyed to the police. The MAG Corps refused to disclose to B’Tselem its reasoning for closing the case.
Following the death of Muhammad ‘Asfur this morning from injuries sustained two weeks ago, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem wrote to Military Advocate General Major-General Danny Efroni, repeating its demand that cases of severe injury to Palestinians by soldiers’ fire be immediately investigated. Two days ago, B’Tselem sent the MAG a list of five incidents in which Palestinians were injured recently by soldiers, including the case of ‘Asfur, who was shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet.
Since 1994, when settler Baruch Goldstein massacred Moslem worshipers in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the Israeli military has employed a "policy of separation" in Hebron. This is implemented primarily through severe restrictions on Palestinian movement in downtown Hebron, where most Israeli settlement outposts are located. Lately the military has further entrenched this policy by building a fence dividing a central street in half and only allowing Jews to use the paved side of the street while Palestinians must use a rough, unpaved passage.