On 14 June 2016, despite the 104°F heat in the Jordan Valley, Israeli authorities seized a tractor on which Palestinians depend to carry water to their flocks and delivered demolition orders for spring water reservoirs that are vital to another Palestinian community. This conduct clearly illustrates Israel’s routine abuse of its power against Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, exacerbating the existing water shortage caused by the fact Israel does not allow them to connect to the water supply.
On Tues. night, June 21, soldiers shot and killed Mahmoud Badran, 15, from Beit Ur a-Tahta and wounded four of his friends. B’Tselem research shows that, contrary to the military’s version, the soldiers used massive fire at the car without justification. The shooting is in line with military policy which enables, despite an official prohibition, to use deadly fire even without threat to life and even when soldiers have non-lethal means available. The policy is backed by the senior ranking military and government officials who do nothing to change it, despite the lethal results.
Today, Sunday, 19 June 2016, Civil Administration and military forces came to the Palestinian community of Wadi Ejheish, which is known as “south Susiya” as it lies some five kilometers south of the village of Khirbet Susiya. The forces demolished the homes of two families that number 21 people in total, including four women and 14 minors. The forces also demolished two livestock pens. One of the demolished homes had been donated by a humanitarian aid agency.
Yesterday evening, two Palestinians went on a shooting spree at Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, killing four Israeli civilians: Ido Ben Ari, 42, Ilana Naveh, 39, Michael Feige, 58; and Mila Mishaev, 32, from Rishon LeZion; and injuring 8 other persons. B’Tselem expresses deep sorrow over the killing and conveys its sincerest condolences to the families of the victims. The deliberate targeting of civilians undermines every moral, legal and human standard. B’Tselem strongly condemns any and all deliberate attacks against civilians and calls once again on politicians and leaders to act responsibly and avoid fanning the flames of violence.
On 31 May 2016 Hamas authorities executed 3 Gazans it convicted of murder: Ahmad Shurab, 43; Yusef Abu Shamleh, 38; and Muhammad ‘Othman 28. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza, 67 people have been condemned by its courts, and 33 people executed (this figure does not include people executed during Operation Protective Edge), some of whom were sentenced before the Hamas takeover. B’Tselem condemns the use of capital punishment, which is both immoral and a grave violation of human rights. A state may not take a person’s life and violate the right to life as a punitive measure, even if ostensibly for the purpose of law enforcement.
Yesterday, 5 June 2016, Civil Administration and Border Police forces arrived at the Wadi al-Qatif (Satah al-Bahar) community, which is located along Route No. 1 between the settlement of Mitzpe Yeriho and a-Nabi Musa. They dismantled and confiscated seven pre-fabs donated several weeks ago by a humanitarian aid agency to replace old huts. Six of the pre-fabs were being used as living quarters by six families, totaling 26 individuals, including 13 minors. The seventh pre-fab was being used as a day care center for 12 of the community’s children. The residents of the community live in an area the Israeli military has defined a closed military zone since the early 1980s.
Testimonies to B’Tselem indicate that during the Mar. 24 incident in which a soldier executed ‘Abd al-Fatah a-Sharif, an action for which he is now standing trial, Ramzi al-Qasrawi was also executed. The two men had stabbed a soldier, who was lightly injured. Since the recent wave of violence began in Oct., a good number of cases were captured on video showing executions of Palestinians who stabbed or were suspected of stabbing Israeli security personnel or civilians. The trial currently underway is an exception to the rule, as law enforcement agencies usually willfully turn a blind eye to this reality.
The occupation is 49 years old. That’s 17,898 days. International law defines occupation as a temporary situation, but after nearly 50 years the reality in the West Bank and Gaza can no longer be considered temporary. It is unreasonable to keep hoping that Israel end this situation of its own volition. As the occupation enters its 50th year, B’Tselem presents the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The facts are well-known. Equally well-known is that standing idly by means perpetuating the current situation. Determined action is needed now to clearly demonstrate the termination of local and international cooperation with the occupation.
On 24 May 2016, dozens of soldiers went through Jaber neighborhood, Hebron. They assembled about 20 children and teens against a wall, asked them about a stone-throwing incident earlier that day, photographed each and let them go. At least 14 were minors, incl. 7 under the age of criminal liability. This questionably legal conduct, in blatant disregard of the duty to safeguard the rights of minors, appears to have been meant to intimidate the children so as to deter them from throwing stones. The military cannot treat civilians, let alone minors, as potential lawbreakers.
On 26 May ‘16, the Civil Administration notified 58 families from 5 Palestinian communities in the northern Jordan Valley that due to military training in the area, they must leave home for varying stretches of time from 30 May to 1 June. In ‘Ein al-Meyteh, al-Burj and Khirbet al-Malih, 27 families were temporarily displaced for 9 hours. In Khirbet Ras al-Ahmar, 14 families were displaced, some on all three days and some on one, for 9 to 14 hours a time. Khirbet Humsah suffered most: 19 families were displaced for many hours on all three days; on one, they were made to stay far away at night, too, and on another they were only allowed to return at midnight.
In April 2016, Israeli forces blew up a safe in a money-changing store in al-Birah, Area A, having refused to let the owner’s son open it for them. This caused a fire that destroyed several stores and a warehouse. They made no attempt to put out the fire and delayed a Palestinian firetruck on its way there. The incident illustrates how easily security forces damage Palestinian property and shows up Israel’s cynical use of the formal division into Areas A, B and C as, in practice, the occupation continues throughout the West Bank.
Today, B’Tselem announced it would no longer refer complaints to the military’s law enforcement system. We explain this unusual decision in our new report, The Occupation's Fig Leaf: Israel's Military Law Enforcement System as a Whitewash Mechanism, which is based on hundreds of complaints B’Tselem has filed, dozens of military investigations and many meetings with officials. We will continue reporting violations but will no longer help a whitewash mechanism that also, in advance, absolves senior military and government officials of responsibility for the policy they set out.
On Monday, 16 May 2016, a large force of Civil Administration and Border Police personnel arrived in the Badu al-Baba community, near al-‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem. The forces dismantled and confiscated ten trailers, which were home to 49 people, including 23 minors. The trailers were recently donated by a humanitarian aid agency to families who had until then lived in tin and wood shacks. The community has about 350 members, roughly half of them minors, and lives in the area designated by Israel as Area E1, where it plans to expand the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to create a contiguous urban link to Jerusalem.
What do you do when there’s no electricity or access to advanced technology? Enterprise, innovation and ingenuity try to fill the void. Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, a B’Tselem field researcher in the Gaza Strip, brings us a portrait of Gaza as seen through his own eyes. A third installment in a series.
On 27 April 2016 a brother and sister were shot dead as they approached Qalandiya Checkpoint. The sister was apparently carrying a knife. B’Tselem’s investigation indicates they were killed without justification and could have been arrested, and that they received no medical aid. This incident is one of dozens of unjustified killings since Oct. 2015, some tantamount to executions. Such incidents are possible due to a public atmosphere in Israel that encourages the killing of Palestinian assailants. Senior political and military figures, including the prime minister, minister and the attorney general, have implicitly or explicitly supported this approach.
On 10 October 2015, soldiers arrested six Gazan youths who crossed the perimeter fence into Israel during a demonstration and held them at a military base for three days. Three of them, minors, told B’Tselem they were held handcuffed out in the open, subjected to beatings and degradation, and denied food, drink and sleep. The fact that soldiers can so easily turn a military base into an exterritorial area in which they can treat minors as they please is, in part, due to a law enforcement system which has long enabled security establishment personnel to use violence against detainees, including minors, without any accountability.
Nine years have passed since Israel began its blockade on Gaza, paralyzing the job market in an area inhabited by two million people. The right to work and make a decent living are both basic human rights. On 1 May 2016, we highlighted the stories of four professionals desperate for work in Gaza.
Yesterday (4 May) Raed Abu a-Rmeileh, a former B’Tselem camera volunteer, and two friends were assaulted by settlers when Abu a-Rmeileh tried to film them harassing two girls with a dog. He was hit on the head with a drink can and knocked to the ground. The settlers then assaulted his friends and fled. Soldiers present did nothing to stop the attack or help Abu a-Rmeileh, who was later taken to hospital with a light head injury. After his release today, he filed a police complaint, provided the footage and identified the assailants’ photos.
In March 2016, Israeli forces shut down operations in several Palestinian quarries in Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem, assaulting laborers and confiscating essential equipment. According to quarry owners, these raids have occurred for years but have recently intensified. Israel systematically prevents Palestinian quarries from operating in the West Bank while allowing Israeli ones to operate there undisturbed, in breach of international law, as part of a policy to push Palestinian activity into enclaves and de facto annex the rest of the West Bank.
Since Oct. 2015, Israel has demolished or sealed 37 homes to punish relatives of Palestinians who attacked Israelis or were suspected of such attacks, leaving 149 people homeless, including 65 minors. Dozens more homes were measured as preparation, forcing 339 people, incl. 128 minors, to live under threat of demolition. Though this collective punishment is unlawful and immoral, the HCJ continues to routinely approve demolition orders. The Supreme Court President has refused recent calls by some justices to revisit the issue.