For 2.5 weeks, beginning in late Jan. 2017, the military blocked all vehicular access to and from the Palestinian village of ‘Azzun, as collective punishment for incidents of stone throwing, Molotov-cocktail hurling, and live fire at a major road nearby. The justifications given by the military are unfounded: blocking all traffic is not a relevant security measure - it is designed to pressure residents into taking action within the community to stop these incidents - nor is it an exception to the military’s longstanding policy and actions in the West Bank.
Yesterday, 19 February 2017, large numbers of Civil Administration personnel and police arrived at the Khan al-Ahmar community, which is located near the settlement of Maale Adumim. They served 39 stop-work orders (a preamble step preceding demolition orders) , which apply to all of the community’s buildings, including its school. The school was built in 2009 and also serves children from other nearby communities. Khan al-Ahmar is situated in an area Israel earmarked for the future expansion of Maale Adumim. In 2016, Israeli authorities demolished 12 dwellings in the community, rendering 60 people homeless, including 35 minors.
Gazans have suffered severe power shortages ever since Israel bombed Gaza’s power plant in 2006. Since then, Israel has prevented restoration of the plant and impeded infrastructure repairs and upgrades. As a result, supply is rotated, with residents getting power only 4-8 hours at a time. In 2017, and especially in the cold of mid-winter, it is hard to imagine that in Gaza - not many miles away from Tel Aviv - families must lead their lives without a regular power supply. In accounts given to B’Tselem’s field researchers, local women described the hardships the situation entails.
This morning, 20 Feb. 2017, the Civil Administration demolished the home of an elderly woman – a trailer donated by a humanitarian aid organization – in the Palestinian community of al-Mehtiwish, which lies near Khan al-Ahmar on land Israel earmarked for expanding the Maale Adumim settlement. The CA also demolished a water pipe in the Jordan Valley which residents of Khirbet al-Hadidiyah and Khirbet Humsah had laid with the help of humanitarian organization, as Israel refuses to hook up these communities to the water grid. The pipe had been restored by residents after being demolished by the CA on 10 Jan. 2017.
Today, 13 February 2017, B’Tselem released a new interactive documentary entitled “The Invisible Walls of Occupation”. Viewers are invited on a virtual tour of the Palestinian village of Burqah, a rural suburb of the city of Ramallah that has become cut off from its urban center through various restrictions imposed by Israel. The documentary has Burqah residents leading viewers on a virtual tour of their village. The project depicts the story of the village and illustrates various aspects of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation. The project was co-produced by B’Tselem and Canadian digital studio Folklore, and is based on a B’Tselem report by the same name.
In Jan. B’Tselem documented two nighttime incidents of soldiers entering homes in Kafr Qadum, a village west of Nablus: They threatened residents and warned them not to attend the weekly village protests which have been held since 2011 when the road linking the village to Nablus was transferred to the exclusive use of settlers. B’Tselem found that the soldiers acted violently and aggressively, threatened children, and shoved an elderly woman. Such threats violate the right of expression, protest, and demonstration. They are unlawful and must be halted immediately.
In 2016 B’Tselem documented a record number of home demolitions by Israeli authorities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, citing illegal construction as a pretext. Israel demolished 88 homes in East Jerusalem and 274 in the rest of the West Bank, while denying Palestinians any possibility of building legally in these areas. This policy, upheld by all state authorities, severely violates the most fundamental human rights of Palestinians and offers decisive evidence as to Israel’s long-term plans: continued control of the area, while oppressing and dispossessing its residents.
This morning, Civil Administration (CA) personnel arrived at the community of a-Ras al-Ahmar in the Jordan Valley. They demolished eight structures - including two residential tents - belonging to one of the families in the community. The family of seven, including five minors, was left without a roof over their heads. The CA also demolished six livestock pens that belonged to the family. The community of a-Ras al-Ahmar suffers constant harassment at the hands of the Israeli authorities. Israeli authorities also demolished a livestock pen and two agricultural storehouse in the village of Kardalah.
The law passed by the Knesset today proves yet again that Israel has no intention of ending its control over the Palestinians or its theft of their land. Lending a semblance of legality to this ongoing act of plunder is a disgrace for the state and its legislature. Passing the bill mere weeks after UN Security Council Resolution 2334 is a slap in the face of the international community. While enshrining the dispossession in law is a new development, in practice it is another facet of the massive land grab carried out openly for decades by declaring "state land".
After midnight on 22 Dec. 2016, Israeli security forces entered Kafr ‘Aqab in order to seal the home of a person who had committed an attack. They shot and killed Ahmad Kharubi, 19, a resident of al-Birah, who had come with his friends to protest against the sealing. B'Tselem’s investigation shows that, contrary to the military’s claim, Kharubi and his friends could not have posed any danger to the forces. The shooting at Kharubi and his friends was executed unlawfully and without justification – as was the sealing of the home itself.
On 15 Jan. 2017, the Civil Administration began uprooting olive trees and levelling land near the Palestinian villages of ‘Azzun and a-Nabi Elyas in Qalqilya District, as part of a plan to build a bypass road to replace a section of Route 55 that runs through the villages. To that end, the authorities have expropriated 10.4 hectares of land from ‘Azzun and uprooted some 1,000 olive trees. Declarations that this will serve “the public interest” are belied by Israel’s policy of using Area C for its citizens only, illustrated by similar cases.
On Thursday 26 January 2017. Large Civil Administration and Border Police forces arrived at the community of Badu al-Baba, located near al-'Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem. The forces destroyed tents that were the homes of three families, and two livestock pens, leaving 17 people, including 9 minors, homeless. The forces did not allow the families to remove all of their belongings from the tents and pens before the demolition, resulting in extensive property damage. The Badu al-Baba community numbers 350, about half of them minors.
Gaza’s fishing sector, which provided work for 10,000 people in 2000, has drastically declined due to Israel’s harsh restrictions on marine access, selling catch in the West Bank and Israel, and raw material imports. Only about 4,000 fishermen are now registered in Gaza, with half out of work as their boats cannot be repaired. The Israeli navy shoots at fishermen, arrests them, and confiscates their boats. This unjustified harm illustrates how Israel continues to control many aspects of life in Gaza from afar, as part of its 10-year blockade.
In November 2016, a fire broke out near the Halamish settlement, apparently due to arson. Although the Palestinian residents of nearby Deir Nizam were accused of nothing, the military put the village under unofficial closure for 3 days and has restricted movement to and from it ever since. Soldiers patrol the village almost daily, resulting in clashes with youngsters. The disruption of daily life and violation of the residents’ rights for two months now constitute wrongful collective punishment.
On 18 Dec. 2016, at about 12:30 A.M., security forces shot and killed Ahmad Hazem ‘Ata Zidani (a-Rimawi), 17, and injured N.R., 25, during a raid in the village of Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah. CCTV footage and B'Tselem’s investigation clearly show that they were not endangering the forces when they were shot. Israeli forces are currently entering the village once or twice a week. Such raids are commonplace in the West Bank, leading to frequent clashes and in some cases to the unjustified loss of Palestinian life.
Mon. Jan. 23. In Khirbet ‘Ein Karzaliyah, a three-family community 5 km southwest of al-Jiftlik, the Civil Administration destroyed tents used as living quarters by two families, leaving 13, including 6 minors, homeless. Forces also destroyed two livestock pens and razed part of the access road to the isolated community. The authorities destroyed homes in the community in 2016, 2015 and 2014 as well.
The past two weeks have seen a worsening in Gaza’s electricity crisis, with the more than 1.5 million Gazans getting power for just 3-4 hours out of every 24 due to a financial dispute between the PA and the Hamas over payment of fuel taxes imposed by Israel. Even if the present crisis is resolved, Gazans will still suffer power shortages. Israel is directly responsible for the situation: preventing restoration of the power plant it bombed in 2006; impeding infrastructure repairs and upgrades; and compelling Gaza authorities to purchase only Israeli fuel at a price residents are hard put to pay.
On 10 Nov. 2016 soldiers shot A.Z., 15, injuring him in the hand and thigh, after he threw a stone at their fortified watchtower and threw down ground sandbags located there. The military took A.Z. to hospital in Israel without informing his parents. He was held under military guard there for four days, incl. three during which his legs were shackled. A police investigator questioned him without the presence of any adult on his behalf. Minors are entitled to special protection by law, common sense and moral values. This right was grossly violated in this case, as in countless others.
On Sunday 8 Jan. 2017 Fadi al-Qunbar, 28, of Jabal al-Mukabber, carried out a ramming attack at the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem, killing 4 soldiers and injuring 13. Israeli authorities have since adopted punitive measures against his extended family and other locals. Collective punishment and administrative measures against Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are an acknowledged Jerusalem Municipality policy and the mayor boasts of it. While the policy is overt, this does nothing to detract from its being wrongful and involving widespread persecution by the authorities of thousands of Jerusalem residents.
A short documentary by Helen Yanovsky, “The Boy from H2” - created in collaboration with B’Tselem’s field researchers and Camera Project volunteers in Hebron, and produced by B’Tselem’s video department - will premiere at the 67th Berlinale as part of the Berlinale Shorts competition. The documentary follows 12-year-old Muhammad Burqan, who lives in Area H2 of Hebron, a section of the city under full Israeli control.