Updates

Use of firearms

B'Tselem has written urgently to the IDF OC Central Command, the Commander of Military Forces in Judea and Samaria, and the Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria, demanding that it be made unequivocally clear to soldiers and commanders in the West Bank that there is an absolute prohibition on shooting live ammunition at stone throwers. The letter follows the killing of two Palestinians and the wounding of dozens by live ammunition fired at stone throwers, and by the unlawful use of crowd control weapons, during clashes and demonstrations against operation "Pillar of Defense" in the past week.

November 22

On the morning of November 18, 2012, the Israeli Air Force struck two buildings in Gaza City in which both local and foreign news agencies maintain their offices. Seven employees of Al-Quds TV were injured, two of them seriously. The IDF Spokesman said in a statement that the attacks were directed against the communications infrastructure of Hamas, which it claims Hamas uses to communicate operational orders and disseminate propaganda. B’Tselem is not in a position to determine whether there is any basis for this claim. However, international humanitarian law holds that the media, including those outlets belonging directly to parties to the conflict, are not legitimate military targets.

November 21

In a short piece published in the New York Times, B'Tselem's Executive Director puts the current fighting in the broader context of Israel's closure of the Gaza Strip. A ceasefire must protect both Israelis and Palestinians from rocket-fire, she writes. It must also ensure that Gazans can live a life with dignity.

November 21

"I felt as if I was about to fly through the air, and the window shattered. I saw that the bomb had landed in our yard. I found Samaher in the yard. She had several injuries. I tried to talk to her, but she was already dead. There was nothing I could do. I am left with Mayar, a baby not even two months old. Up to now, she had been nursing."

November 21

According to media reports, on 10 November 2012 armed Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military jeep. Four soldiers were wounded, one seriously. In response, the Israeli military fired four tank shells - in short intervals - at a populated civilian area in eastern Gaza City, about 1.5 kilometers from the Gaza Strip perimeter fence. Four Palestinian civilians, including two minors, were killed. It is doubtful if firing a tank shell at a populated area constitutes a proportional response. An investigation by B'Tselem indicates that, after the first shell was fired, civilians came to aid the injured. Under such circumstances, the military should not have fired additional shells.

November 21

Initial B’Tselem investigations indicate that 102 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip between the launch of the Israeli military’s “Pillar of Defense” operation on the afternoon of November 14, 2012 and the night of November 19. The investigations indicate that at least 40 of those killed were civilians, among them 19 minors, and 10 women. Three Israelis were killed in the course of the operation up to the night of the 19th, as a result of rocket fire from Gaza by Palestinian militant organizations.

November 21

A B’Tselem inquiry shows that on the morning of 17 November 2012, an Israeli attack targeted three armed men in Rafah. Two of them were killed on the spot and a third was wounded. Shortly afterwards, while 'Awad a-Nahal, age 31, a resident of a nearby house, was trying to evacuate the injured man, a second attack killed both the armed man and the civilian trying to evacuate him.

November 20

Testimony gathered by B’Tselem reveals that in the early morning hours of Sunday, 18 November 2012, an Israeli aircraft fired at the ground near the Sa’ifan family home in the Tel a-Za’tar neighborhood. The strength of the explosion collapsed the room on top of the sleeping Sa’ifan family: mother, father, and two children. Their son Tammer, age 4, and daughter Jomanah, age 2, were killed. B’Tselem is continuing to investigate the circumstances of the incident that caused the death of Tammer and Jomanah Sa’ifan.

November 20

According to testimonies gathered by B’Tselem, on Thursday, 15 Nov. 2012, an Israeli military air strike took place in an urban area in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. B’Tselem does not know the objective of the strike. A large crater was created at the point of impact and nearby houses were extensively damaged. Two boys, a 9-year-old and a 16-year-old, who lived in two of the buildings that were damaged, were killed. They sustained fatal injuries from shrapnel as they lay asleep in their homes. The fathers of the two dead boys described the incident to B’Tselem by telephone.

November 20

"The children’s conversation is about the types of missiles and planes. It hurts me so much to hear them talking about these things, instead of games or things they are learning in kindergarten or that they did with their friends. What kind of life do they have with this situation looming over them? We try to keep them busy and distract them from the news and what is happening, but what is happening is stronger."

November 19

"The nights are long and terrible now. I stay awake all night. How could I sleep when my children are afraid? When I am hearing the bombing? All night I try to reassure the children and protect them."

November 19

"The children are frightened and are sleeping with us at night. The bombings keep them awake and when they do fall asleep, they have nightmares and wake up in a panic. It’s hard to be shut in at home and sometimes I let them play in the yard under the awning."

November 18

"A few seconds after my mother went out toward the shed, I heard a strong explosion. Smoke and dust covered the house. I started looking for her and calling her, but couldn’t find her. A few minutes later, I found her severely wounded."

November 18

Initial B'Tselem investigations indicate that between the launch of the Israeli military’s “Pillar of Defense” operation and the night of 17 Nov., 43 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip from Israeli fire. At least 13 of them were civilians, including seven children (five of them toddlers under the age of 4), and two women. Three Israelis have been killed as a result of rocket fire from Gaza by Palestinian militant organizations.

November 18

Yesterday, 14.11.12, the Israeli military launched Operation Cloud of Defense in the Gaza Strip. Four years ago, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza caused unprecedented harm to the civilian population. B'Tselem calls on policymakers to implement the lessons learned from Operation Cast Lead in order to minimize harm to civilians during the current hostilities in Gaza.

November 15

Following the signing of a plea bargain with a soldier charged with manslaughter during operation Cast Lead, B'Tselem demands that the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) reopen the file into the killing of Majedah and Rayah Abu Hajaj. If the military prosecution accepted the claim that there is no connection between the shooting he admitted to and the killing of the Palestinian mother and daughter, this means that the investigation into this incident was never completed. The MPIU must therefore solve the case and pursuant to the finding, hold accountable those responsible.

August 12

B’Tselem recently learned of the decision by the Police Investigations Unit (PIU) to close the files on three cases dealing with complaints submitted to the unit. Acting on behalf of the complainants, B’Tselem obtained and examined copies of the case files and found investigative errors and omissions. In two of the cases, an appeal has been submitted to the State’s Attorney by Atty. Gabi Lasky on behalf of B’Tselem. The third case was passed on to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has also submitted an appeal.

June 6

On 16 May 2012, on behalf of B’Tselem, Attorney Gabi Lasky filed an appeal with the State Attorney against the decision by the Central District Attorney’s Office to close the file on the fatal shooting of Firas Qasqas by reserve-duty soldiers some four years ago. The appeal was submitted after an examination of the material from the investigation into this case revealed concrete evidence that necessitates an indictment for the negligent shooting of Qasqas, and that therefore, the decision to close the case is unreasonable and should be reversed.

May 21

The al-Samouni case only illustrates the broader problem regarding the military’s ability to examine itself. Shirking responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the widespread devastation caused by Cast Lead demonstrates yet again the need for an Israeli investigation mechanism that is external to the army.

May 8

The MAG Corps informed B'Tselem today that it has closed the Military Police investigation file in the complaint into the killing of 21 members of the a-Samuni family in the Gaza Strip. The file was closed without taking any measures against those responsible. In response, Adv. Yael Stein, B'Tselem's head of research, said: it is unacceptable that no one is found responsible for an action of the army that led to the killing of 21 uninvolved civilians, inside the building they entered under soldiers' orders, even if this was not done deliberately. The way the army has exempted itself of responsibility for this event, even if only to acknowledge its severity and clarify its circumstances, is intolerable.

May 1