B’Tselem information showing Israel demolished more homes in Palestinian communities in the West Bank in the first half of 2016 than in the entire previous year will be presented today at a Knesset conference on Israel’s Area C house demolition policy. From January to the end of June 2016, the Civil Administration demolished 168 homes, leaving 740 Palestinians homeless, 384 of them minors. Throughout 2015 the Civil Administration demolished 125 homes, leaving 496 Palestinians, including 287 minors, homeless. Over the last decade, from 2006 to 30 June 2016, Israel demolished at least 1,113 Palestinian homes in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem).
In Jan.-June 2016, Israeli authorities demolished 168 dwellings in Palestinian communities in the West Bank, making 740 people homeless (incl. 384 minors), more than in any one year in the past decade (except 2013). Demolitions are carried out only in Area C, which comprises about 60% of the West Bank, and which Israel views as primarily meant to serve its own needs, and in East Jerusalem. Demolitions play a key role in Israeli policy in the West Bank to displace Palestinians and take over their land. Demolitions and devastating communities do not fulfill “the rule of law”. Rather, they are a longstanding, systematic dispossession to which all Israeli authorities are party.
Two years after Israel’s 2014 operation in Gaza, and following a meticulous investigation, B’Tselem is publishing the casualty figures. These indicate that almost two thirds (63%) Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the operation, 1,394 out of 2,202, did not take part in the hostilities and 526 of them were children under 18. The Israeli government almost totally shirked its responsibility for the massive harm to civilians in the operation, casting all blame upon Hamas. However, the fact that one side violated the law of war does not permit its opponent to do the same. Additionally, the lethal results of the open-fire policy chosen were clear even on its first few days. Israeli decision-makers chose to ignore this fact and continue the same policy line, and the moral and legal responsibility for this massive harm to civilians lies with them.
On 15 Feb. 2015, the military prosecution informed B’Tselem it had denied the appeal against closing the investigation into the killing of Mustafa Tamimi, who was shot with a tear-gas canister while throwing stones at a military jeep in Dec. 2011. The prosecutor proposed a variety of scenarios, no matter how implausible, to absolve the shooter and his commanders of criminal liability. Yet again, this decision sends soldiers a message that they may act with nearly universal impunity in the Occupied Territories, and highlights the limitations of the law enforcement system which does not examine overarching issues and policy or the responsibility of senior officers.
After Palestinians killed two Israelis, 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel and Rabbi Michael Mark, near Hebron last week, Israel imposed severe restrictions on Palestinian movement throughout the Hebron District. Imposed during Ramadan, just before ‘Eid al-Fitr celebrations, the restrictions grossly disrupted the lives of some 900,000 people and harmed the local economy. Most roadblocks are still in place. This massive collective punishment is an act of vengeance that serves narrow political interests at the expense of almost 1 million people.
On 1 July 2016, a Border Police officer shot and killed Sarah Hajuj, a 27-year-old Palestinian woman from Bani Nai’m, at a checkpoint at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The Israel Police said the woman had tried to stab a policewoman. B’Tselem’s investigation and video footage indicate that the shooting was unjustified, as Hajuj - whose face had been pepper-sprayed - was alone in a room with armed policemen at the door. The shooting is part of a broadly-backed policy that permits lethal fire not only as a last resort, and grants the shooters immunity.
B’Tselem expresses deep sorrow over the killing of Rabbi Michael Mark, 48, and the injury of his wife and two of their children in a shooting attack by Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills on Friday. B’Tselem conveys its sincerest condolences and best wishes for a speedy recovery to the Mark family. 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.
B’Tselem expresses deep sorrow over the stabbing to death of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, by a Palestinian who entered her home in Kiryat Arba this this morning, and over the injury of a member of the settlement's security detail. B'Tselem conveys its sincerest condolences to the family and its best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured guard. 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.