On 31 October 2013, Ahmad Tazaz’ah, 20, was killed in a market near Qabatiya, in the northern West Bank. According to B’Tselem’s inquiry, Tazaz’ah was killed by live ammunition fired by Israeli soldiers, and not in intra-Palestinian violence. According to the investigation, Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli troops returning from an arrest operation in Qabatiya. The troops stopped near the market and responded with crowd control weapons and live fire. Tazaz’ah was hit by a live round in the chest. B’Tselem’s inquiry shows the soldiers were not in any real danger, raising a grave suspicion they breached open-fire regulations. B'Tselem conveyed its findings to the MAG Corps, which announced the opening of a "limited investigation," in light of the suspicions regarding the involvement of Israeli soldiers in the incident.
On 26 October 2013, the Na’asan family of the village of al-Mughayir, Ramallah District, went to harvest their olives. Several masked settlers arrived at the grove and began attacking the family with stones. The family responded by throwing stones back. The settlers then assaulted 75-year-old Ghatib Na’asan and his nephew, Yasser Na’asan, who tried to protect him. The latter, a volunteer in B'Tselem's camera distribution project, was hit with an iron bar and broken glass. Other family members called for the Israeli security forces, who arrived while the settlers were retreating but made no attempt to apprehend or detain them until police arrived.
After Operation Pillar of Defense (Nov. 2012), an understanding was reached whereby Israel would ease restrictions on Palestinian access to farmland near the border. Previously, access to those areas–a third of Gaza Strip farmland–was strictly restricted, including by the use of live fire. B'Tselem has found that the military still limits access and does so with live fire. Israel must lift these restrictions, enabling farmers to work their land. As long as the restrictions remain, the military must refrain from using live fire to enforce them.
Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, a B’Tselem field researcher in the Gaza Strip, continues to bring us his personal Gaza: Last episode, I turned the camera inwards and looked at my home, my family, my local coffee shop. This time, we’ll go outside for a bit and visit my nephew Muamen. He and his friends are recent university graduates, but instead of finding jobs and joining the workforce, they’ve joined the most frustrated class of people in Gaza, the unemployed. Unemployment in Gaza among people under 30 is as high as 45%. Or as Muamen calls them, the “bummer generation”.
The Jabers live about 300 meters south of the entrance to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. The family make a living from growing vegetables near their home. In July 2013, one of the family’s daughters, a volunteer in B'Tselem's camera distribution project, filmed two incidents in which settlers uprooted the family's crops and planted others in their place. The footage shows security forces standing by and taking no action to stop the vandalism. B'Tselem wrote to the military demanding an examination of the soldiers' conduct in both incidents.
Israel plans to expel 1,000 residents of the South Hebron Hills, arguing they are living in a military training firing zone. International law prohibits use of occupied lands for routine military training, and obviously prohibits expulsion of residents to that end. Last month, further to High Court petitions by the villagers, filed by ACRI and Att. Shlomo Lecker, the justices proposed a meditation process to achieve a joint compromise. The villagers’ agreed to the proposed mediation immediately. The State announced its agreement today.
In June 2013 B'Tselem filmed long lines and overcrowding at Tarqumya and Eyal Checkpoints. B'Tselem reported its findings to the Land Crossings Authority, the Ministry of Defense, which rejected the claims. In Sept., B'Tselem visited Tarqumya and Sh’ar Efrayim Checkpoints: laborers must still arrive in the middle of the night to cross by morning and report harsh conditions. The Ministry of Defense must urgently modify conditions to accommodate the number of work entry permits issued and ensure that workers can enter Israel with dignity.
Since the Disengagement, Israel has retained control over all access points to and from Gaza, with the exception of Rafah Crossing. Israel prohibits air or sea travel to and from Gaza, and prohibits Palestinian travel from Israeli airports. The disruption of the right of movement of Gazans has worsened since July due to restrictions imposed by Egypt at Rafah. Israel’s control over most access to Gaza means it is responsible for enabling Gazans to fulfill their right to freedom of movement, subject to individualized security inspections.
On 16 Sept. 2013 the Civil Admin. demolished all structures of Khallet Makhul, a Bedouin community. For over a week, the military kept the residents from erecting any shelter. On 24 Sept. Adv. Tawfiq Jabareen applied on behalf of the residents to the HCJ, which issued an interim injunction on expulsion or demolition of homes, pending a ruling. The residents have since erected tents, some which the military has demolished–contrary to the injunction, leading Adv. Jabareen to apply to the State Attorney’s Office. On 6 Oct., 11 tents were on-site.
On Wednesday, 2 Oct. 2013, Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip executed Hani 'Alayan, 27. 'Alayan was sentenced to death in 2012 for two counts of murder, one of them committed while he was a minor. His sentence was upheld in appeal on 12 July 2013. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza, 16 people have been executed. B’Tselem condemns the use of capital punishment, which is both immoral and a grave violation of human rights. The state may not take a person’s life and violate that person’s right to life as a punitive measure, even if it is ostensibly for the purpose of law enforcement.
4 and 1/2 years after Bassem Abu Rahmeh, 30, was killed when struck in the chest by a tear-gas grenade fired directly at him from close range, the state announced it is closing the case for lack of evidence. The announcement was made further to a High Court petition by Bassem’s mother, demanding an investigation into the killing of her son in April 2009 during a demonstration against the Separation Barrier in Bil’in. Three video segments prove that Abu Rahmeh was east of the barrier, did not act violently, and did not endanger the soldiers.
Until the second intifada, Beitin was a thriving commercial center because of its proximity to al-Birah and Ramallah. But economic and social activity in the village has declined after the military blocked off its main entrances, leaving only a long and winding access road open. In April 2013, Israeli human rights organization HaMoked requested that the military open the DCO checkpoint on the road between Beitin and al-Birah, which serves only VIP pass holders and members of international organizations to all Palestinians. No response has been received to date.
On September 2, 2013 the High Court of Justice (Court President Asher Grunis and Justices Hanan Meltzer and Daphne Barak-Erez) held the first hearing in the renewed petitions against the forced eviction of 1,000 residents of the area known as Firing Zone 918 in the South Hebron Hills. At the close of the hearing the Justices suggested that the parties enter a mediation process in order to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. Read more on ACRI's website.
According to B’Tselem’s initial investigation into the incident that took place this morning (26 August) in which three Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces’ fire in Qalandiya Refugee Camp, it appears that the stone-throwing was more massive today as the security forces remained in the camp until around 6:45 A.M., a busy hour on the street as the Palestinian school year started yesterday. Today’s harsh consequences cast doubt on their judgment in ordering the mission, and on the degree to which the force was prepared in advance. An investigation into the incident must be opened immediately to examine these issues.
On 19 Aug. 2013, Israeli authorities demolished all the homes of the Bedouin community of Tal ‘Adasa, north of Jerusalem, and gave them ten days to leave the spot. The community is being forced to relocate elsewhere in the West Bank, outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, although they have lived in the area since the 1950s, albeit never registering as East Jerusalem residents. As no housing alternative has been found for the entire community, its 40-odd members and their flocks will have to split up for the near future.
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.