On 19 March 2017 at midday, a force of more than 15 soldiers seized 8-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah, who was out on the street barefoot, looking for a toy he had lost. Two soldiers dragged him to the al-Harika neighborhood and took him into several homes to identify children who had thrown stones and a Molotov cocktail at the Kiryat Arba settlement. More than an hour later, several women managed to extricate the boy and return him to his mother. Two area residents, including B’Tselem volunteer May D’ana, captured the incident on video.
On 20 Jan. 2017 local youths clashed with Israeli security forces in the village of Sa’ir, northeast of Hebron. Women and girls who had been watching the clashes fled when the youths did; they were pursued by Border Police who stormed into their homes and attacked three. Part of the assault was captured on video. This is but one of many cases of security forces’ violence against Palestinian children and youth documented by B’Tselem. The recurrence of this conduct, and the lack of accountability indicates it is tacitly condoned by the most senior officials of Israel’s security establishment.
Yesterday, Tuesday 14 March 2017, Civil Administration personnel came to the region of the Furush Beit Dajan community. The settlement of Hamra had been established near the community in the 1970s. The Civil Administration confiscated a trailer which served as home to a nine-person family, including two minors. In addition, they demolished a covered shelter owned by two of the community’s families which was being used as a fresh produce market stall, and also ruined the fruits and vegetables on sale there.
Ahmad Shbeir was born in Gaza in 1999 with congenital heart defects. Gaza hospitals cannot perform the procedures he needed, so he underwent many operations in Israeli hospitals. Prior to the open-heart surgery he had scheduled for Sept. 2016 in an Israeli hospital, he was called in to meet with the ISA at Erez Checkpoint. His mother says he was then asked to become a collaborator with Israel. When he refused, he was told he would not get a permit to enter Israel, and his applications were in fact denied. His condition went from bad to worse and he died on 14 Jan. 2017.
On Friday, 10 Feb. 2017, Madama residents went out to enjoy the good weather at a spot south of the village. Soldiers guarding the nearby settlement of Yitzhar came there and threw tear-gas canisters at the villagers. Ahmad Ziyadah, a B’Tselem camera project volunteer, began filming some of the soldiers and was ordered to leave. When he refused, he was violently detained. His brother arrived to help him and a soldier fired a rubber-coated metal bullet at short range at his knee. Ziyadah, who did nothing more than film the soldiers, was kept in custody for six days with the backing of a military court.
Many cancer patients cannot get the treatment they need in Gaza. WHO figures indicate that in 2016 Israel reduced the number of Gazan cancer patients allowed to receive treatment in the West Bank or Israel, denying over a third of applications. Iman Shanan, a recovering cancer patient who has to endure Israeli restrictions on access to treatment outside Gaza, founded the Aid and Hope Program for Cancer Patients Care. She discusses the particular hardships suffered by women cancer patients in Gaza and the program which offers them aid.
Since 2000, Israel has maintained a “buffer zone” along the Gaza border, within Gaza, restricting Palestinians’ access to their farmland and killing or injuring hundreds of civilians who posed no danger. Since 2014, the military has also sprayed herbicides to maintain the “buffer zone”, damaging land it authorizes owners to cultivate. In January, spraying without prior notice caused farmers serious damage. If Israel believes a “sterile” is crucial to its security, it must establish the zone in its own territory.
Over the past twenty years, Israel has taken measures to guarantee a nearly blanket exemption from its obligation under international law to pay compensation to Palestinians harmed by its security forces. In a new report released today (Wed., 8 March), B’Tselem traces the development of this practice and illustrates how it has led to a major drop in the number of claims for damages Palestinians filed in recent years. Israel’s policy reflects how little value it places on the lives, bodies and property of Palestinians living under its control.
On 16 January 2017, a Border Police officer fatally shot Qusai Hassan Muhammad al-‘Amur, 17, of Tuqu’ in Bethlehem District, firing four 0.22-inch caliber bullets at him. B’Tselem’s inquiry found that the gunfire came after clashes between youths and the security forces had died down, and the security forces were in no danger. Six Palestinians (including al-‘Amur) have been killed and hundreds injured over the past two years by the military’s use of 0.22 inch caliber bullets as a crowd control measure. Video footage published in the media shows soldiers brutally dragging the injured al-‘Amur along the ground, indicating their profound disregard for his life.
Israel has restricted Palestinian movement between the West Bank and Gaza since the 1990s, more severely so since blockading Gaza in 2007. Visits are permitted only to immediate family under narrow criteria deemed “humanitarian”; even then, only some 25% of requests are approved. Israel has shirked responsibility for the extreme implications of its decade-long blockade on Gazans. It must respect the right of all West Bank and Gaza residents to family life and freedom of movement between the two areas, which are a single territorial unit.
In Jan. and Feb. 2017 Israeli authorities demolished water supply infrastructure in two West Bank areas. In the southern West Bank: 8 cisterns used by farmers and shepherds. In the Jordan Valley: authorities twice demolished a pipe supplying water to three small farming and shepherding communities. Since occupying the West Bank 50 years, Israel has controlled most of its water resources and ignored the severe shortages suffered by local Palestinian communities. It promotes only infrastructure that serves settlers, and demolishes facilities developed by Palestinians in Area C, in order to force them out of the area.
In Jan. and Feb. 2017 Israeli authorities demolished water supply infrastructure in two West Bank areas. In the southern West Bank: 8 cisterns used by farmers and shepherds. In the Jordan Valley: authorities twice demolished a pipe supplying water to three small farming and shepherding communities. Since occupying the West Bank 50 years ago, Israel has controlled most of its water resources and ignored the severe shortages suffered by local Palestinian communities. It promotes only infrastructure that serves settlers, and demolishes facilities developed by Palestinians in Area C, in order to force them out of the area.
We, human rights organizations from Israel, consider Israel’s refusal to allow Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch (HRW) to enter the country a cause of grave concern. Israel seeks to portray itself as a card-carrying member of the club of democratic countries. A state that defines itself as democratic cannot turn its border control into a thought police. Such measures will not deter us from continuing to report human rights violations in the territories controlled by Israel. Attempts to silence the messenger will not suppress our message.
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.