Updates

Shuruq's home is one of 100,000 houses in Gaza that were ruined or damaged in Operation Protective Edge. The families who lived in them now live in rough, crowded conditions in the cold. She related: "For the first 7 years of our married life, we lived with my husband’s parents. We kept dreaming of building a home of our house so things would be calmer and easier for us. In 2012 we own to build a house on our plot... I felt I couldn’t go and look at what’s left of the house. I couldn’t bear to see how years of work went down the drain in a single moment."

December 25

On 11 Nov. 2014, a soldier shot and killed Muhammad Jawabreh at home in al-‘Arrub RC. The soldier was on a rooftop overlooking a spot where clashes were taking place, some distance from Jawabreh’s home. The circumstances raise grave suspicion of unlawful use of live fire. Jawabreh is the 44th Palestinian killed in the West Bank by Israeli security forces this year, yet soldiers and commanders are rarely held accountable. Policy makers in the government and military are responsible for allowing this ongoing disregard for Palestinian lives.

December 22

Tens of thousands of Gazan families are homeless, more than 3 months after Israel’s last operation there. In October 2014, the UN published that 20,000 homes of families were destroyed in the operation, and another 80,000 damaged. In the town of Khuza’a, east of Khan Yunis and close to the border with Israel, hundreds were destroyed. Until last summer, the extended al-Qara family lived in a five-apartment building. It was destroyed in the fighting and they now live in two tents next to the ruins.

December 18

Geneva Convention High Contracting Parties call on Israel to respect the Convention, including in East Jerusalem. Through almost 50 years of occupation, Israel has brazenly breached the Convention, while benefitting from belonging to the “club” of signatories. Israel’s excuses for its breaches have been repeatedly rejected by experts and tribunals, and now, also by the Conference. The resolution reflects the illegality of the ongoing occupation and its attendant human rights violations, the baselessness of Israel’s claims of compliance with the Convention and Israel’s ever deteriorating international status as the violations persist.

December 17

Bab a-Zawiya checkpoint monitors passage of Palestinians from Tel Rumeidah to downtown Hebron. Its closure collectively punished hundreds for the actions of a few individuals. The checkpoint, like other restrictions on Palestinian movement in Hebron, serves no security purpose and is part of Israel’s separation policy in Hebron. The military must remove this and other unnecessary checkpoints in central Hebron. As long as the checkpoint remains, the military must enable regular passage and refrain from collective punishment.

December 16

“A friend told me ‘Alaa had been killed. He and his family had fled when the bombardment began and took cover in the hospital, but shells hit the hospital and ‘Alaa was hit by shrapnel in the abdomen and killed… My friends and I get together almost every day and remember ‘Alaa.” Operation Protective Edge ended over three months ago, but Gaza residents are still living with its aftermath. This account by Mu’taz is the third installment in the weekly series of voices from Gaza. Click here for the full account.

December 11

Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein died today, Human Rights Day, after joining farmers in nonviolent protest against barred access to their land in the West Bank. While the circumstances of his death need clarifying, the reason for the protest and how Israeli security forces handle Palestinian protests are well-known. The state sends settlers to grab Palestinian land in the West Bank and then sends the army to forcefully silence protest – sometimes, at a lethal price. That is how Human Rights Day looks under occupation.

December 10

International Human Rights is observed today, 10 December. We’d like to take this opportunity to take a look at the past year through the photo blog we launched a year ago. All year long B’Tselem publishes investigative findings, updates, video footage and in-depth reports on a variety of human rights issues in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Our photo blog gives us a slightly different view of life there. The dozen photos we chose – a small selection of the images published– are a portrait of the past year as it was reflected in our photo blog.

December 10

On 4 Dec. 2014 two settlers were driving near Wadi a-Nasara checkpoint when a Palestinian youth threw stones at them. They got out of the car and attempted pursuit. Footage by a B’Tselem camera volunteer shows that when the pursuit proved unsuccessful, they vandalized nearby Palestinian property. Police and soldiers who arrived at the scene did not detain the two and allowed them to leave unhindered. This incident is part of the reality of live in Hebron, with the military and the police standing by as settlers take the law into their own hands.

December 8

Images of people hard put to find adequate shelter in the recent heavy rainstorms serve as a reminder that Operation Protective Edge, which ended three months ago, continues to have serious consequences for life in Gaza. The following account by Shadi Barakeh is the second in a series of voices from Gaza that we will be presenting in the coming weeks. Shadi, 12, lost his father and his home in Operation Protective Edge. He now lives in an improvised tent with no facilities: “We have no happiness now… My mother cries for hours on end… It’s cold at night and I’m afraid when I hear dogs bark and the wind whistle.”

December 4

At around 2:00 A.M. on 12 Nov. 2014, Ahmad Hasunah and his sister stepped outside to throw out garbage after a family gathering at their home in Bitunya, Area A. B’Tselem found that soldiers lying in ambush fired live bullets at Hasunah as he walked back home, badly injuring him. The soldiers then questioned him for 20 minutes before giving him first aid. They also confiscated security camera footage in an apparent cover-up attempt. Shortly after the shooting the soldiers arrested a neighbor, and only then permitted a Palestinian ambulance to take Hasunah to hospital.

December 4

Yesterday (1 Dec. 2014) HCJ held first hearing in petition by Ahmad ‘Awad whose son Samir, 16, was shot and killed by soldiers in Budrus nearly two years ago. The petition, filed with B’Tselem, calls for a decision by the MAG on whether to indict. The Court added the Attorney General as respondent because Military Justice Law no longer applies to the since-discharged soldiers suspected in the incident. Justice Melcer: “In future, MAG Corps officials must know that […] they must complete all proceedings before the soldiers are discharged.”

December 1

On 27 Nov. 2014, Adv. Michael Sfard petitioned the High Court of Justice on behalf of HaMoked and 7 other Israeli human rights organizations to rule the policy of punitive home demolition unlawful. The petition is backed by a legal expert opinion authored by some of Israel’s top jurists, asserting that the policy severely contravenes international humanitarian and human rights law and the fundamental tenet of Israeli law whereby people cannot be punished for actions other than their own. The opinion stresses that this policy may be considered a war crime in certain circumstances, with the attendant risk for those involved in its implementation.

November 27

The 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award was presented to Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem at a gala event in Stockholm, Sweden, last night (25 November 2014). Established in 2009, the Stockholm Human Rights Award is awarded annually by the International Bar Association, the International Legal Assistance Consortium and the Swedish Bar Association to an individual or an institution for outstanding contributions to the rule of law and the promotion and protection of human rights. B’Tselem was represented at last night's ceremony by B’Tselem Executive Director Mr. Hagai El-Ad, his predecessor Ms. Jessica Montell, and by Ms. Salma a-Deb'i, B’Tselem’s field researcher for the Nablus District.

November 26

According to media reports, the Israel Police notified the families of the perpetrators of the horrendous attack that it may withhold the bodies at this stage because a funeral procession and erection of a headstone "may glorify… the terrorist and make him a role model,” and that this step may “serve as a deterrent". This is another form of harm to innocents official justify as deterrence. B’Tselem calls upon the authorities to make a clear distinction between the grave actions of the deceased and any harm to their relatives, who are not suspected of any offense.

November 26

East Jerusalem does not exist in a vacuum. The recent violence in East Jerusalem is happening against the backdrop of a harsh, ongoing state of occupation. There are land grabs and discrimination, as well as severe restrictions on construction and development. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the violence is a “direct outcome of incitement by Abu Mazen”. Yet the direct, causal link Netanyahu is trying to portray ignores the overall picture, which includes Israeli authorities manipulating the declaration of national parks in East Jerusalem for political ends. 

November 25

Operation Protective Edge ended in late August 2014, but most residents of the Gaza Strip are still suffering its consequences. The video shows the apartment of the Sukar family in a-Shuja’iyeh neighborhood in Gaza City, which was heavily shelled in the operation. The parents and their seven children now live in an apartment that does not provide them shelter from the cold and rain: “This apartment had been hit by shells and parts of it were destroyed. Whenever it rains, the house is flooded. The children get sick with colds. I hope we’ll be able to go back to our apartment, with all our belongings and furniture, especially the washing machine… This war set us forty years back…"

November 24

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday (22 November 2014) that he plans to promote a bill which would revoke the residency status and social security benefits of individuals who commit terrorist attacks or other serious offenses from nationalistic motives and their families. incoming Minister of Interior, Gilad Erdan, has revoked the permanent residency status of the man who drove the perpetrator of the suicide attack at the Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv in 2001, to the site of the attack. Residency status and social security benefits are not a favor or boon granted by the authorities. It is Israel’s fundamental obligation toward all individuals living in its territory, be they citizens or permanent residents.

November 23

B’Tselem is shocked by and finds abhorrent this morning’s attack, in which Palestinians killed Jewish worshippers at the Bnei Torah Synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. We extend our condolences to the families of the people killed and convey our wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded. B’Tselem strongly condemns any and all intentional assaults against Israeli or Palestinian civilians and reiterates its call to politicians and leaders to act responsibly and avoid fanning the flames of violence.

November 18

Hagai El-Ad, B'Tselem Executive Director has been included in Foreign Policy's sixth annual “100 Leading Global Thinkers” issue, the magazine announced today in Washington DC. The list, recognizes a year of "tumult, protest, inspiration, and new beginnings" to quote the magazine's editors.

November 17