Updates

Use of firearms

Since the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge in the early hours of 8 July 2014, the IDF Spokesperson and media sources have reported deliberate attacks against the homes of senior activists in armed Palestinian groups. The IDF Spokesperson reported that 11 such homes were attacked. Even if uninvolved civilians are not injured, these houses are not legitimate military targets, and attacking them is a violation of international humanitarian law. The gravity of the violation is compounded when uninvolved civilians are injured. Until now, B’Tselem has documented one case in which civilians were in a house bombed after a prior warning missile was fired:

July 9

Yesterday (8 July 2014), the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. According to the IDF Spokesperson, the military has attacked some 100 targets, including homes of senior Hamas activists. According to media reports, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have fired some 50 rockets and mortar shells at south Israel until around lunchtime. B’Tselem has found that some 10 people, including minors, were killed in Gaza today. B'Tselem reiterates its demand that all parties to the hostilities prevent harm to civilians.

July 8

On 10 June 2014, nearly 17 months after Lubna al-Hanash was killed and two months after her father and B'Tselem petitioned the HCJ demanding that the MAG decide whether to indict those responsible for her death, the MAG Corps decided to close the investigation without filing charges. Al-Hanash was killed by a gunshot wound to her head while walking with a relative in a park near Route 60. B'Tselem's investigation found that the two women posed no danger and that the soldier who fired did not take minimal precautions to avoid harm to bystanders.

June 29

An op-ed By Hagai El-Ad, B'Tselem's executive director, originally published in Haaretz: three families hanging between despair and hope, and if only that hope could win. But what responsibility is this, what hope is this, and what humanity is this if it is so completely blind to the Palestinian suffering? A great majority of the time, for most of the Jews here, the Palestinian suffering is completely denied. When it is not documented on video it interests almost no one, and when it is documented it is repressed as a conspiracy.

June 23

After undertaking an autopsy of the body of Nadim Nawarah, 17, on Wednesday, forensic pathologists have determined that a live bullet was the cause of his death. The Palestinian teenager was killed by Israeli forces on May 15 during clashes in the West Bank town of Beitunia. Responding to the conclusions of the autopsy, the four organizations who coordinated the attendance of the international forensic pathologists stated: "These findings underline the urgency of our demand that the criminal investigation into the Beitunia killings be conducted efficiently and concluded promptly. Rather than attempting to discredit those who called for an investigation, the Israeli military should now focus on uncovering the truth about the shootings, and holding those responsible to account."

June 12

Hassan a-Taber, 47, of Beitillu, was killed on 29 July 2012 when police and a security guard at a-Za’ayem Checkpoint fired at the van driving him and other laborers without work permits into Israel. The DIP investigated the shooting and closed the case on the grounds that it was not unlawful. B’Tselem’s appeal, arguing the investigation had been negligent, was denied. The closing of the case and the rejected appeal effectively render meaningless open-fire regulations and the procedures of ensuring accountability for severe human rights violations.

June 2

For technical reasons only segments of the footage of the gunfire incident in Bitunya–in which Nadim Siyam Nawarah, 17, and Muhammad Mahmoud Salameh, 17, were killed and 2 others injured–were broadcast. B’Tselem is currently uploading all 11 hours of footage and welcomes all to view it to verify its authenticity. Since 2012 Israeli forces have killed 45 Palestinians in the West Bank. To date, only 1 soldier has been indicted. An investigative system leading to virtually no indictments for killing Palestinians conveys disregard for human life.

May 26

On 15 May 2014, four Palestinians were shot with live bullets in their upper torsos in Bitunya. Two of them, both minors, died. B'Tselem's findings refute the army's claim that only crowd control measures were used and show that all four were shot with live ammunition, although they posed no danger to the forces. B'Tselem today received full security camera footage of the incident and will pass it on to the MPIU, demanding that the investigation examine not only the soldiers' conduct, but also the responsibility of senior commanders at the scene.

May 20

In an article for the Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection, Jessica Montell highlights the importance of accurate information to any human rights advocacy. "Monitoring, reporting and fact-finding remain the backbone of B'Tselem's work – it is the necessary first step of any strategy to make change. Given the highly-charged context of our work, and the politicized efforts to discredit the work of groups like B'Tselem, our work would not be possible without the strong base of accurate, reliable information."

April 28

Today, over 14 months since Lubna al-Hanash was killed on 23 Jan. 2013 by shots soldiers fired near al-‘Arrub RC, her father petitioned the HCJ with B’Tselem to oblige the MAG to decide whether to charge the perpetrators. Al-Hanash was shot in the head while strolling with a relative in the gardens of a college campus near Route 60. B’Tselem found that the two women posed no danger and that shooting at them was unjustified. The MAG’s prolonged delay violates the family’s rights by reducing the chances of an effective criminal procedure.

April 10

On 4 Apr. 2014 Muhammad Yassin, a B’Tselem’s camera volunteer, sustained severe internal injuries from live gunfire while filming clashes at Bitunya. Footage by David Reeb shows that Yassin was not at the center of the clashes, was carrying a camera and was clad in a vest indicating his photographer status. B’Tselem does not yet know what ammunition hit Yassin. The military, despite pledges to the contrary, often uses live 0.22-caliber bullets even when soldiers are not in mortal danger. B’Tselem demands that Yassin’s wounding be investigated.

April 9

Ahmad ‘Awad, whose son Samir was killed by soldiers near the Separation Barrier in Budrus, petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice together with B’Tselem to oblige the MAG to decide whether to prosecute the soldiers who killed his son. The petitioners said that every day that goes by without a decision reduces the chance that effective criminal procedures be taken, in an ever-increasing infringement of the petitioners ’ rights and with growing harm to the rule of law and public interest in bringing offenders to justice.

March 30

On 19 March 2014 soldiers killed 14-year-old Yusef a-Shawamreh as he and two friends crossed a breach in the Separation Barrier to gather plants on his family’s land. B’Tselem found that, contrary to the IDF Spokesperson’s statement, the youths did not vandalize the barrier nor was suspect arrest procedure carried out. Security forces are well-aware that Palestinians cross at this point for harvest purposes at this season. B’Tselem calls on the military to bring to justice the commanders who ordered the highly questionable armed ambush.

March 26

In light of the recent escalation in violence on the Gaza-Israel border, B’Tselem reiterates that directing rocket and missile fire at civilians is prohibited and constitutes a war crime.Attacks aimed at civilians are immoral and illegal. The Hamas government in Gaza must take all legal measures at its disposal to stop the rocket fire. B’Tselem demands that all sides involved in the hostilities take all possible steps to protect civilians from the consequences. The laws of war obligate all sides to do all that is in their power to prevent harm to civilians.

March 13

In the past 14 months 5 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by soldiers in ambush. The latest fatality is Saji Darwish, killed in Beitin yesterday by a live bullet in what the military classified "an ambush to catch stone throwers”. The military did not say whether the soldiers had crowd control weapons or live ammunition only. The military must launch a criminal investigation of the incident and the directives the soldiers received, and also discontinue ambushes for unarmed stone-throwers in which soldiers carry only lethal weapons.

March 11

Despite the risks 15,000-30,000 Palestinians routinely enter Israel without work permits. B’Tselem made inquiries into four cases in which soldiers shot and wounded Palestinians trying to enter Israel. In all four cases, which occurred in Oct. and Nov. 2013, soldiers did not given any advance warning before shooting, and in some, shot at the victims’ torso. Security forces must not automatically consider civilians trying to enter Israel without permits as potential terrorists and nor can they use gunfire to apprehend these individuals.

March 9

B’Tselem recorded 5 fatalities and 55 injuries recently, all of Palestinian uninvolved in hostilities near the Gaza perimeter fence. Although the military refuses to publish the relevant open-fire regulations, statements by officials indicate the possibility that lethal fire might be permitted even in cases of civilians who pose no danger. As Gazans use the area near the fence for various civilian needs, it cannot be regarded exclusively as a combat zone. The military must institute open-fire regulations that take this reality into account.

March 4

On Fridays in recent months, youths have been frequenting an area east of Jabalya RC, a rare open space in the congested Gaza Strip. Some stroll or rest. Others come to demonstrate, burn tires or throw stones at the perimeter fence. Several times Molotov cocktails were lobbed at the fence and its patrol. Soldiers positioned on the Israeli side of the perimeter fence use various measures – from tear-gas to live ammunition – to get the youths to back away from the fence. B'Tselem field researcher Muhammad Sabah documented the scene.

March 4

On 7 Dec. 2013 a soldier outside the settlement of Beit El shot and killed Wajih a-Ramahi, 15. The military claims “the only shots fired were in the air", but the autopsy found that a-Ramahi was hit by a bullet to the back. B'Tselem's inquiries indicate that a-Ramahi was one of several youths throwing stones at soldiers from a distance of about 200 meters. Although they were not facing mortal danger, the soldiers responded with live ammunition, not crowd control weapons. The MAG Corps said that a military police investigation has been launched.

February 11

On 20 Dec. 2013 soldiers shot and killed ‘Odeh Hamad while he and his brother Radad were collecting scraps at the Beit Hanoun garbage dump. Radad, who reported hearing no warning beforehand, ran for help. While Hamad lay injured, soldiers just across the fence offered him no medical assistance, nor did they help the paramedics locate him. He was found after a half hour-long search and died shortly after reaching hospital. B’Tselem documented similar incidents at the same site, including four in the last 18 months in which civilians were injured.

February 3