Since Nov. 2009, B’Tselem has received testimonies from dozens of Palestinian minors alleging that they were subjected to threats and violence, sometimes amounting to torture, under interrogation at the Gush Etzion police station. They claimed that the violence was used in order to force them into confessing to alleged offenses, mostly stone-throwing. Given the severity of these claims, the DIP and the Israel Police must examine the issue systemically, and not make do with the investigations opened into several particular cases following B’Tselem’s complaints. If the claims are substantiated, they must take immediate action to stop the illegal conduct and take legal and administrative measures against those responsible.
On 19 Aug. 2013, the Ministry of the Interior demolished all the homes of the Tal ‘Adasa Bedouin community, located near Beit Hanina, after pressuring its members to leave the area since 2005. Although the community’s dozens of members have lived within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem since the 1950s, they are not registered as residents of East Jerusalem. Since the Separation Barrier was built there in 2006, they have been trapped in a narrow enclave under Jerusalem Municipality jurisdiction, isolated from the rest of the West Bank. B’Tselem calls on the government of Israel to acknowledge the rights of the community, which has no other place to live, having lived in the area for decades. The authorities must find a solution to the problem that is acceptable to the community members. Demolishing their homes and expelling them constitutes a violation of international law and will leave them homeless and without a source of livelihood.
Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are classed as “permanent residents”, a status usually accorded to foreign nationals wishing to live in Israel and which can be revoked relatively easily. Indeed, since 1967, Israel has revoked the permanent residency status of over 14,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. The revocation was part of a politically-driven policy aimed at maintaining the “demographic balance” of a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, by increasing the number of Jewish residents and minimizing the number of Palestinian residents. Most Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have no legal status anywhere else in the world. Consequently, Palestinians whose status is revoked on grounds of having lived – or having allegedly lived – at least seven years abroad or elsewhere in the West Bank, are left with no legal status whatsoever. Status revocation also means that they must relocate to places outside of East Jerusalem or else remain in it illegally. In contrast, Jewish citizens of Israel will not lose their legal status even if they live outside of Jerusalem for many years.
Six months after the Turkel Commission’s issued its report on Israel’s investigative policy of alleged violations of laws of war, B’Tselem published a position paper on the report. While the commission held that Israel fulfills its obligation to investigate, it noted: “in several of the areas examined, there are grounds for amending examination and investigation mechanisms and in several areas, there are grounds for changing the accepted policy”. The commission’s recommendations are far-reaching. Nonetheless, B’Tselem emphasizes that greater systemic change is needed to bring Israel’s military investigative policy up to par.
'Omar Hushiyeh told B’Tselem that he was attacked by masked men on 14 July 2013, as he was walking his flock home. When soldiers came by, the assailants fled. The soldiers did not pursue the assailants, but called a medic for Hushiyeh. As the medic did not arrive for some time, Hushiyeh was taken to hospital by his relatives. Hushiyeh filed a police complaint, but B’Tselem’s inquiry revealed that just two weeks later, the case was closed on grounds of “unknown assailant”. B’Tselem demanded that the police reopen its investigation and that the military require the soldiers who had been on the scene to testify before the police.
On Sunday, 21 July 2013, B’Tselem camera volunteer Raed Abu Ermeileh filmed video footage of a police officer slapping a detainee, who appeared to be a minor. He slapped the detainee several times on the nape of the neck, while leading him out of a Hebron police station. The detainee was put inside a vehicle parked outside the station, three police officers got in, and the vehicle drove off. Its many attempts notwithstanding, B’Tselem has been unable to identify the detainee.
What if someone were to barge into your home, declare it a military training zone and evict you? That's the case for some 1000 Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills. The Israeli military called their home "Firing Zone 918" and has been trying to expel them for years. Their appeal is currently in court.
Ibrahim Sarhan, 21, was shot and killed by soldiers in July of 2011, at the al-Far'ah refugee camp, in the Tubas district. The MAG corps decided not to serve indictments against the soldiers who killed him. In an appeal against the decision filed this month, B'Tselem claims that the investigation materials contain evidence that the fatal shooting of Sarhan was carried out in violation of the open-fire regulations and without any justification. This case illustrates the military's problematic conduct with respect to investigating the killing of Palestinians.
On 22 July 2013, the Israeli military's Legal Advisor in Judea and Samaria responded to B'Tselem's letter regarding the grave incident in which soldiers detained a five-year-old boy in Hebron for two hours, after he threw a stone. In his letter, the legal advisor addressed the general issue of soldiers having to deal with a complex reality in which children under the age of criminal responsibility throw stones. Regarding the detention of Wadi' Maswadeh, the advisor justified the soldiers' conduct. B'Tselem sent a reply, emphasizing that the soldiers had acted in a fundamentally unacceptable way throughout the incident, and that acknowledging the complexity of the reality in which they operate cannot justify blatantly unlawful violation of children's rights and harm to their welfare.
The army must end its use of rubber bullets as a means to disperse demonstrations in the occupied territories, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and B'Tselem have demanded in a letter to Deputy State Attorney for Special Matters, Attorney Eli Abarbanel. The move comes following numerous instances of death and injury to unarmed protestors by rubber bullets, and following the injury of B'Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli during a demonstration last month.
Residents of ‘Awarta have recently been notified of requisition orders issued by the military “on security grounds” for some 63 dunams of land that they own, close to the Itamar settlement. In 2000, members of the settlement illegally created a path around the land, and they have since prevented the farmers from entering the land. Instead of enforcing the law on the settlers, the military demands prior coordination from farmers wishing to enter their land, permitting them to do so only for several days a year. As the requisition order now issued almost totally matches the land taken over by the settlement, it serves to whitewash the theft. If security around the Itamar settlement has to be improved, the military must do so without taking over the land and without causing additional loss to the Palestinian landowners’ livelihood.
40,000 to 50,000 individuals currently live in the Gaza Strip without ID cards recognized by Israel, nor do they have any official status elsewhere in the world. Some of them were born in the Gaza Strip but were never recognized as residents by Israel: some fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war, or left Gaza for various reasons after 1967 and later returned. A small number were born in the Gaza Strip and have never left it, but do not have ID cards for various reasons. Israel, which still controls the Palestinian Population Registry, must allow all stateless individuals in Gaza to obtain status.
On 19 July 2013 B’Tselem Spokesperson Sarit Michaeli was hit and injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet a Border Police officer fired at her while she was filming a demonstration at the village of a-Nabi Saleh. The shooting contravenes military directives. B’Tselem will convey documentation of the incident to police.
The village of 'Azzun, population approximately 10,000, is located east of the city of Qalqiliya. The military routinely blocks the main entrance to the village from Road 55 for a few hours to a few days at a time in response to stone and Molotov cocktail throwing in its vicinity. According to the head of the village council in 2013 alone, the military has already blocked the road nine times. Blocking the road due to stone throwing is unlawful. It constitutes collective punishment of the village residents. This type of punishment is prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The military must counteract stone and Molotov cocktail throwing using the lawful means at its disposal.
B'Tselem responded to the report of Israel's State Comptroller, which states that Israelis living in 83 settlements in the West Bank do not pay leasing fees for land they received from the state and that the authorities do not enforce the law on illegal construction, fearing opposition by settlers. B'Tselem said the comptroller's report added another layer to the understanding that Israel's entire law enforcement system in the West Bank is enslaved to the settlement project, and that the failings detailed are a direct result of the policy of successive Israeli governments, that have avoided for decades enforcing the law on Israeli citizens who harm Palestinians and their property.
B'Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli published an article in the Hebrew daily, Ma'ariv. The article responds to claims by Ma'ariv columnist Ben Dror Yamini that the detention of a 5 year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron was an exceptional incident.
On 21 June 2013, during the weekly demonstration at Kafr Qadum to protest the closing of the road that links the village to the city of Nablus, Israeli soldiers attacked a reporter and a photojournalist of the Palestinian television. The men were then detained and held in custody for two days. Part of the assault was caught on video, and the soldiers are seen beating reporter Ahmad ‘Othman as he tries to protect himself. In response to airing this footage, the IDF Spokesperson claimed that the journalists had attacked the soldiers, yet did not have any documentation to substantiate its claim. B’Tselem applied to the MAG Corps demanding an investigation of the incident.
On 9 July 2013, the High Court of Justice dismissed a petition demanding that the Israeli military cease all use of white phosphorous in civilian areas. The petition, filed by Advocates Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer on behalf of 117 petitioners, including human rights organizations, was dismissed after Israel pledged to stop using white phosphorus, with the exception of two classified conditions. Despite dismissing the petition, the justices did order the military to reconsider the use of white phosphorous. The military's pledge is a step in the right direction. However, given that under international humanitarian law the use of white phosphorous in the present setting of the Gaza Strip is unlawful, and considering its horrific results, B'Tselem demands that the military prohibit all use of white phosphorous in densely populated civilian areas, such as the Gaza Strip.
B'Tselem has written urgently to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria, demanding his response to a grave incident in which soldiers detained a five-year-old boy in Hebron for two hours, after he threw a stone. The soldiers threatened the child and his parents, handcuffed and blindfolded the father, and handed the boy over to the Palestinian Police. Detaining a child below the age of criminal responsibility, especially one so young, has no legal justification.
Action on Armed Violence has selected B'Tselem's Executive Director Jessica Montell as one of 100 people working to make the world a safer place. The organization, dedicated to reducing armed violence around the world has compiled a list of "100 people who are outstanding examples of those trying to change the world for the better." The list includes government officials, international legal figures, academics, journalists, donors, public figures and non-for-profit. The award is recognition of B'Tselem's work over the past two decades in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.