On 27 Sept. 2016, Israel demolished 22 structures, half of them homes, in five West Bank communities: in the northern Jordan Valley, near Ma’ale Adumim, the South Hebron Hills, and East Jerusalem. This left 56 Palestinians, including 30 minors, homeless. The authorities also demolished water cisterns, livestock pens, and part of a school. This is part of a massive demolition campaign to pressure Palestinians to leave Area C that has, since the beginning of 2016, left 1,010 people homeless, including 530 minors.
Israel has exclusive control of the Palestinian water supply in the West Bank. It supplies less water to the Palestinians than the WHO recommends and less than it supplies to Israelis, doing so through inequitable distribution of joint resources, mounting obstacles to prevent the development of infrastructure, demolishing and confiscating infrastructure and barring access to local water resources. In Area C, Israel exploits its full control to prohibit water-grid hookups to dozens of communities. Since June, in order to meet settlers’ needs, the Israeli national water company has further cut back on water supply to Palestinians in the northern West Banks, as it does every summer.
New B’Tselem report out today: Whitewash Protocol: The So-Called Investigation of Operation Protective Edge. The report describes Israel’s charade of investigating alleged breaches of law during the operation, in which 1,391 people, including 526 minors, who did not participate in the fighting were killed. While the decision makers who are truly responsible for the violations were never investigated, the military’s investigations focus on the responsibility of lower ranks for isolated “exceptional cases”, ignoring the fact that scores more nearly identical cases ended with horrifying outcomes. The MAG’s stand, which absolves himself of responsibility and allows decision makers to repeatedly ignore these outcomes is illegal and immoral.
On Aug. 16, a sniper shot four Two-Two bullets, seriously wounding Muhammad al-‘Amis, who was standing on his rooftop during the raid on al-Fawwar RC. Snipers killed another man in the camp and injured more than 30, all using Two-Two bullets. In recent years, the military has followed a policy that sanctions live fire at stone-throwers, even when there is no mortal danger. In this case, even this illegal policy was exceeded, with soldiers firing four bullets at a man who was not throwing stones or posing any other danger, almost killing him.
On 26 Aug. 2016, soldiers shot and killed Iyad Hamed, 36, near a military observation tower close to the village of Silwad. The military initially claimed Hamed had fired at the tower, but changed the story several times eventually claiming that the soldiers fired shots into the air. B'Tselem’s research revealed that Hamed, whose functioning was limited, had attempted to open a fence blocking a road. The soldiers shot him in the back as he was leaving the area. Past experience and the Defense Minister’s comments on the incident make it highly unlikely that anyone will be held accountable for his killing.
In a raid on al-Fawwar Refugee Camp on 16 Aug. 2016, Palestinian youths threw stones at soldiers. One of them, Abu Hashhash went home and then came out again, at which point a military sniper positioned in a nearby home shot him. B’Tselem found that Abu Hashhash was killed by 0.22-inch bullets, which are officially permitted for use only in case of mortal danger but have been used as a crowd control measure by the military in recent years even without such danger, resulting in five Palestinians killed and hundreds injured since March 2015.
On 10 Aug. 2016 there was a fight between Palestinian and settler children in Hebron. After Israeli Border Police forces broke it up, they brought in five Palestinian boys - at least two below the age of criminal responsibility - for an improvised lineup by a settler boy. This was partially captured on video by an ISM volunteer. The Border Police also took an 8-year-old from his home in the middle of the night and the police sought to interrogate him alone. The immense efforts to locate Palestinians suspected of harming settlers contrast sharply with the near absence of action to protect Palestinians from violence by settlers, or to uphold the rights of Palestinian children.
B’Tselem complains to Israel Police about its conduct in three attempts made by B’Tselem volunteer, ‘Imad Abu Shamsieyh, who filmed an Israeli soldier killing a Palestinian, to file a complaint regarding threats he has received on Facebook. Abu Shamsiyeh got sent back and forth and on the last time, threatened with arrest if he did not leave the station. Adv. Gaby Lasky wrote to the police on behalf of B’Tselem and Abu Shamsiyeh, saying the officers had committed disciplinary offenses and abused their power.
Yesterday (Wednesday, 31 August 2016), military and Civil Administration forces arrived in the afternoon in the community of Badiw a-Mu’arrajat to the northwest of Jericho. The forces dismantled and confiscated three residential caravans, a shack used for raising livestock, and mobile toilet facilities. All the structures were donated to the families by a humanitarian aid organization after the Israeli authorities demolished their homes on 4 August 2016. The destruction left 14 people homeless, including three minors.
On 29 August 2016, Israeli forces came to M’azi Jaba’, a community to the northeast of Jerusalem. The forces demolished four homes belonging to three families, as well as three animal pens, leaving 28 people homeless, including 19 minors. Since the start of 2016, the Israeli authorities have demolished 203 homes around the West Bank, leaving 823 people homeless, including 432 minors. This demolition campaign highlights Israel’s increased efforts since the beginning of 2016 to displace Palestinians from Area C.
In late July Israeli security forces killed Muhammad al-Faqih who was suspected of perpetrating a shooting attack. His pregnant widow, Hadil al-Faqih, was staying with her parents. A week after he was killed troops came to her parents’ home. She told B’Tselem that the female soldier who frisked her was so violent she became worried about the baby she is carrying. The reason for the nighttime search is unclear, but the incident raises grave suspicion that it was meant to harass and intimidate the widow and her family. Such conduct is utterly inexcusable.
Approximately 1.8 million people live in the Gaza Stripת, where the economic situation is on the verge of collapse. International aid organizations have addressed this reality for years, displaying tireless commitment in extremely difficult conditions. Any use of funds intended for humanitarian aid to support violence is illegal and is an extremely grave matter. Even if the defendants are found guilty – at present they should benefit from the presumption of innocence – this will not detract from the importance, integrity, and dedication of international humanitarian organizations assisting residents of the Gaza Strip.
Since 2010, Israel has severely restricted access to the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa, which lies northwest of Jerusalem, in order to prevent Palestinians from entering Jerusalem. Instead of building the Security Barrier along the Green Line in the area, Israel has chosen to deny villagers a normal routine, resulting in severe effects on employment, education, basic services and communal ties. The choice to impose these draconian measures reflects absolute prioritization of Israeli interests over the protection of local residents’ rights.
This month, Israel demolished 20 homes and 13 other structures in Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, leaving 53 people – including 25 minors – homeless. In 2016, thus far, Israel has demolished 188 Palestinian homes on grounds of “lack of permit”, the highest number since 2006. This is part of an Israeli policy to step up demolitions, implemented although Israel is formally engaged in “structured dialogue” on the matter with the European Union and despite recent international condemnation in the Quartet Report.
After attacks perpetrated in early July by Palestinians, the Israeli military imposed severe travel restrictions on Palestinians in the Hebron district. The harm in al-Fawwar R.C., crowded with 10,000 residents on 1sq km, was particularly severe, mainly due to their dire financial situation. The restrictions were lifted on 26 July 2016. Local residents told B’Tselem about their difficulties in accessing medical care and the harm to livelihoods. These restrictions illustrate how easily Israel can disrupt the lives of Palestinians everywhere in the West Bank, regardless of the division into Areas A, B and C.
On 13 June 2016 Bilal Kayed finished serving a 14½-year prison sentence. His waiting family was then told that he was not being released, and was being placed in administrative detention for six months. Administrative detention is based on classified “evidence” that is not revealed to the detainee, so he cannot refute it, and has no maximum time limit. While Israel has long and widely used this draconian measure, imposing administrative detention immediately after a long prison sentence is exceptionally harsh. Yet the military judges - who are an integral part of the mechanisms of occupation - approved it even in this case.
Muhyi a-Din a-Tabakhi, a 10-year-old boy from a-Ram, was critically injured by a black sponge round fired by Border Police. He died shortly after. The officers were pursuing youths who were throwing stones at them. A-Tabakhi is the second Palestinian killed by this type of ammunition and the latest in a long line of those injured by it. Black sponge rounds are dangerous and it has been found repeatedly that police officers use them in breach of regulations. Therefore, this ammunition cannot be considered a “non-lethal means” and its use must be limited to cases of mortal danger.
July 2016 saw dozens of night raids by the military on homes in Dura, the hometown of the Palestinian suspected of the drive-by shooting that killed Rabbi Michael Mark and injured his family on 1 July. Soldiers woke up entire households, questioned adults, and left behind terrified children and frustrated adults who felt helpless at being unable to protect their families. Using the blanket excuse of security, the military and the ISA violated the rights of people whose only offense is being related to the suspect or living in the town that is home to his family. Such wholesale harm is inexcusable.
In September 2012, Israeli security forces put up a chain-link fence along al-Ibrahimi Street in Hebron, separating the paved road from a narrow, rough walkway. Since then, B’Tselem has twice documented security forces denying Palestinians access to the paved road, despite official claims that there is no such prohibition. On 25 July 2016, B’Tselem volunteer Raed Abu Ramileh filmed a Border Police officer seizing the bicycle of 8-year-old Anwar Burqan and throwing it in the bushes for riding it down the paved road, which is reserved for settlers.
Of some 100,000 Palestinians who work in Israel daily, 63,000 have permits and enter Israel via one of 11 checkpoints. In June, B’Tselem again documented the rough conditions at two checkpoints: 300 and Qalandiya. Even in Ramadan, when workers fast all day, they are forced to leave for work in the dead of night, wait in long lines, and often sleep where they work and see their families only on weekends. This is not a necessary evil but a deliberate choice by the Israeli authorities. Whatever the reasons, it is unconscionable and unacceptable.