"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On the night of 27 March 2012, soldiers in civilian clothing entered Kafr Ramun near Ramallah. B’Tselem has learned that three brothers from the village, thinking they were being robbed, came outside armed with a club and two knives to defend their property and were shot by the soldiers. Uniformed soldiers who came to the scene during the incident, also shot two of the brothers, who were already wounded. One brother died of his wounds and the other two sustained injuries. B’Tselem demanded an investigation into this incident and was informed Today, 24 April 2012, that an investigation was ordered by the MAG corps
On Friday, 9 March 2012, B’Tselem documented two serious incidents of tear gas canisters fired directly at demonstrators in two West Bank locations. Despite ample documentation that tear gas canisters are aimed and launched directly at people, the authorities continue to deny it.
B’Tselem wrote to the Military Police and the Military Advocate General Corps requesting they launch a Military Police Investigation into the death of a Palestinian demonstrator and the wounding of dozens of others when live ammunition was used against protesters during a Land Day demonstration in the Gaza Strip on Friday, 30 March 2012.
In light of the recent escalation in violence around the Gaza Strip, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem has repeated its demand that all parties to the conflict take all feasible measures to protect civilians from the impact of the fighting.
To mark International Women’s Day, B'Tselem is issuing a collection of videos filmed by women who volunteer in its camera project. The images provide the viewer with a unique look into these women's daily lives. The women in the project live in a reality in which human rights violations are a daily occurrence. It is a reality most of us prefer not to see, yet the documentation is crucial and also transformative. The women photographers say that the cameras have changed their lives. They provide a tool for personal, social, and popular expression and they make these women effective human rights advocates in a traditional society in which the men usually take center stage.
On 1 January 2012, MAGS Corps informed B'Tselem that the investigation into the injury of the protester Eran Cohen was closed with no legal proceedings being initiated against the officer who shot him with a rubber coated metal bullet. Cohen, an Israeli citizen, was shot during a demonstration in Bil’in on 15 March 2008. Video footage of the incident shows clearly that the protester did not endanger the soldiers, and that the officer was only several meters from Cohen when he opened fire, in violation of the army's orders.
After the operation B'Tselem wrote to the MAG Corps demanding investigations of the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) into 20 incidents that had taken place during the operation. In each of the incidents, B'Tselem's field research raised serious suspicions that military actions had harmed unarmed, uninvolved civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law. View list of cases and investigations status
Firas Qasqas, an unarmed Palestinian civilian, was killed on 2 February 2007 by soldiers' gunfire, in a-Tira neighborhood in Ramallah. On 18 August 2011, in response to a petition filed by B'Tselem, the State Attorney's Office informed the High Court of Justice that the officer responsible for the shooting would be prosecuted, pending a hearing. In mid-January 2012, the State informed the Court that, following the hearing given the officer, no indictment would be filed against him.
On 5 Jan. '12, B'Tselem wrote to the military advocate general demanding an investigation into the firing of .22-caliber bullets that hit a young Palestinian man who was throwing stones at soldiers during the weekly demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, on 23 December 2011. B'Tselem also requested that the MAG clarify to senior commanders, to forces in the field, and to the Judea and Samaria Division’s spokesperson that using these bullets is tantamount to firing live ammunition, and is, therefore, forbidden as a crowd-control measure.
Three years after Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military's argument against independent investigation of its conduct during the operation has proven to be hollow. The military has completely failed to investigate itself, regarding both policy choices and the conduct of the forces in the field in particular cases.
In two incidents in December 2011, the Israeli air force bombed ammunition storages in the middle of a civilian area in Gaza. Secondary explosions caused nearby homes to collapse. In the first bombing, two civilians were killed, one of them a 10-year-old, and an 8-year-old was severely injured. In the second, an 11-year-old was severely injured. Hamas breached international law by storing the weapons in a civilian area. Israel failed to take all feasible means to minimize harm to civilians, and did not warn civilians to evacuate the area.
On Friday, 9 Dec. '11, at the end of the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of a-Nabi Saleh, a soldier killed demonstrator Mustafa Tamimi by firing a tear-gas canister directly at his face. For several years, B'Tselem has been alerting officials to security forces' repeated illegal firing of tear-gas canisters directly at persons. Despite the army’s declarations that such firing is forbidden, the practice continues.
B'Tselem documented three cases in which the air force killed civilians and damaged civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in the past ten days. B'Tselem demanded a criminal investigation in one case and further details in the other cases.