According to media reports, a Palestinian stabbed Israeli civilian Dafna Meir to death yesterday evening on the threshold of her home and fled. Meir, 39, was a mother of six from the settlement of Otniel in the South Hebron Hills. Three of her children were at home at the time. B’Tselem expresses deep sorrow over the attack and conveys its sincerest condolences to the family of the deceased. Deliberate targeting of civilians undermines every moral, legal and human standard. B’Tselem strongly condemns any and all deliberate attacks against Israeli or Palestinian civilians and calls once again on politicians and leaders on all sides to act responsibly and avoid fanning the flames of violence.
In the early hours of 13 January 2016, representatives of the Civil Administration and the military came to the Palestinian community of Khirbet a-Rahwa, which lies south of the town of a-Dahariya and close to the settlement Tene. The force demolished a tent that was home to a family of nine, including seven minors, and a livestock pen that belongs to the family. The force also confiscated a solar panel donated to the family by humanitarian aid organizations. The family’s tent had already been demolished a year ago and re-erected since.
Since the start of 2016, Israel has demolished three homes as collective punishment for attacks against Israeli civilians committed by family members. This left 18 persons homeless, including seven minors. Security forces have also surveyed dozens of homes slated for future demolition. Despite the extreme nature of this act and the clear position of jurists that it is illegal, the HCJ repeatedly approves the demolitions. Demolishing or sealing homes is a draconian, vindictive action targeting entire families not suspected of any offense.
The Gazan health care system is unable to provide adequate care to the residents of Gaza, in part due to neglect during Israel’s direct rule there and also to the present day siege. Yet Israel does not allow most patients who need non-lifesaving medical care to enter Israel or pass through it en route to the West Bank or Jordan. An entry permit for medical care is not an act of charity: since Israel still controls Palestinian movement in and out of Gaza, it must let patients leave Gaza to allow them to get proper care.
A fire broke out at our office in Jerusalem this evening. None of our staff were in the building, but people working on other floors had to be evacuated by the fire brigade. Following the announcement by the fire brigade that the cause of the fire in our office is probably an electrical fault, we are extremely relieved and eager to begin the cleanup as soon as possible. Over the past few hours we experienced an outpouring of support and solidarity from friends and supporters in Israel, in the Occupied Territories and abroad. We thank you all for your kindness, and promise to get back to work, and carry on until the end of the occupation.
On 13 Dec. 2015 soldiers fired tear gas into a home in al-Janiya during clashes. Yazan Mazlum and Yusef Shabayeh, both 17, went to help its inhabitants. According to testimonies given to B’Tselem, soldiers who came into the building dragged the boys away and beat them severely, alleging they had thrown stones. This is yet another instance of security forces using violence for alleged involvement in stone-throwing. That such incidents continue, although the responsible parties know of the phenomenon, raises concern that the military might consider them legitimate means. However, this type of violence is prohibited under any circumstance.
On 16 Dec. 2015 approval to deposit a plan for review was given for a plan to build 891 residential units south of the neighborhood of Gilo, which is on West Bank land unilaterally annexed to Jerusalem. The southward expansion lays the groundwork for annexation by creating a contiguous bloc between Gilo and the settlement of Har Gilo. The Cremisan Valley, an area under the plan that serves Palestinians as a vital source of income and for recreation, will apparently become a free public space for the residents of Gilo and Har Gilo. This belies the security justification for the barrier’s route accepted by the High Court, and exemplifies Israel’s annexationist policy.
A third generation has been born into the occupation by now. A third generation of children who know only the reality of daily human rights violations. It’s hard to find hope when the occupation infiltrates every aspect of your life. While Israeli authorities and their various emissaries are doing everything in their power to silence dissent over the occupation’s chokehold on Palestinians, we are here to ensure that you know what is being done in the occupied territories and to work towards a better reality. Let's end the occupation. Join us and support B'Tselem.
On 30 Dec. the two soldiers who shot and killed Samir ‘Awad near the Separation Barrier in Jan. 2013 were indicted. The facts described in the indictment are very similar to those found by B’Tselem’s inquiries, clearly indicating the shooting was unjustified and an outright breach of the open-fire regulations. The disparity between the soldiers’ egregious conduct and the minor charges being brought against them beggars belief, and sends security personnel in the OPT a clear message that the system will allow them to continue to operate with impunity, even if they kill Palestinians who pose no danger and even if they breach regulations.
Op-ed by Yael Stein, Director of B'Tselem’s Research Dept., first published in Ynetnews. In response to allegations that torture was used in interrogating the suspects in the torching of the Dawabsheh family home that killed three people, PM Netanyahu was quick to reassure: “All the investigations are being conducted in accordance with the law”. The question is not whether a given act is in accordance with a specially tailored law. The fact that something is legal does not make it justifiable. Sometimes the fact that something is legal serves only to illustrate the bankruptcy of legislative mechanisms.
On 9 Dec. 2015 soldiers at a flying checkpoint near Silwad fired at a car shuttling school boys as it drove off after inspection. A bullet shattered the back window and lodged in the windshield. The four boys, aged 8-16, suffered anxiety attacks. The military said one of the boys had thrown a screwdriver at the soldiers, a claim unbacked by evidence and contradicted by the accounts given by the driver and children. Even if the claim were true, the shooting was unwarranted and violated open-fire regulations. Fortunately, no one was hurt by the bullet that penetrated the car.
Israel’s law enforcement authorities have formulated an interrogation system that relies on abuse and even torture. It is not the private initiative of any individual interrogator or prison guard. The use of these measures in interrogation is wrong. People under interrogation – be they Palestinian or Jewish – must not be subjected to abuse and torture, no matter what.
On 24 Nov. 2015, security forces arrested two young minors in Beit Ummar. Khatab Abu Mariyah, 12, who was arrested on the street, told B’Tselem he had been kicked and beaten. Yusef ‘Alameh, 8, was taken by force from his home despite being under the age of criminal responsibility. Security forces did not allow the parents accompany the boys, who were then held for hours and interrogated without the presence of an adult on their behalf. This disregard of the basic protections afforded to minors along with the violence used are another example of cases previously documented by B’Tselem in which the military blatantly violates the rights of minors – with legal backing.
The bodies of 55 Palestinians, including 11 minors, killed in the recent wave of violence have yet to be returned to their families. This measure does not punish the dead but their families, who were neither involved in nor responsible for the actions of their relatives. The non-return of bodies is an official policy justified by the Israeli government on the grounds of deterrence. Yet “deterrence” cannot justify all actions, and certainly not a policy that gravely injury human dignity. Not only is this policy patently immoral, it is yet another instance of Israeli authorities’ disregard for the lives of Palestinians – even after their death.
Since Oct. 2015 dozens of assaults by Palestinians have left 16 civilians and 3 members of Israel’s security forces dead. Up to 11 Dec. 2015, 71 assailants were shot dead by security forces or civilians. This wave of violent assaults is appalling, and clearly Israel’s security forces must protect the public. The law is also clear: shooting to kill is permissible only in cases of mortal danger. Yet analysis of 12 cases widely covered in the media and examined by B’Tselem paints an alarming picture of excessive and unwarranted use of lethal gunfire, which in some cases was tantamount to summary execution of assailants or suspected assailants.
Recent reports state the ISA may use “special measures” against the suspects in the Duma torching which killed three members of the Dawabsheh family. These measures are a code name for abuse used in the interrogation system developed since the 1999 court ruling banning torture. Authorities must fully investigate and prosecute this heinous crime, one of the worst perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians, but it must do so without resorting to prohibited measures or violating suspects’ rights. The same must apply to all Palestinian detainees, who are routinely abused and at times tortured.
Today is International Human Rights Day, marking the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that states all people deserve life, security, liberty, equality and dignity. On the other side of the Green Line, a line essentially invisible to Israelis, millions of people – Palestinian residents of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip - are being deprived of their rights, a deprivation particularly blatant in Hebron. To mark the day, we made a clip on the background to current events in Hebron, and the daily oppression in a city that has become a flashpoint for violent flare-ups.
Israel recently demolished the homes of 2 West Bank families as collective punishment for attacks relatives perpetrated or allegedly aided in. Damage by the blasts left 6 more units unhabitable: 27 people (includ. 16 minors) suspected of no wrongdoing were left homeless. Demolishing family homes of suspected attackers is collective punishment, prohibited under international law. Despite the sanction’s extremity, and the clear position by legal scholars that it is unlawful, the HCJ repeatedly upholds this draconian and vindictive measure used against entire families accused of no wrongdoing.
Yossi Sarid, a leader in the Israeli peace camp, passed away Friday (4 Dec. 2015). Sarid not only gave B’Tselem its name, he also lucidly and eloquently shaped our guiding worldview, and instilled in many Israelis the importance of conscientious, independent and critical thinking. He served as a model of how - when necessary - to fearlessly espouse a stance contradictory to the prevailing consensus. His political and public activity and his writing all conveyed his deep commitment to human rights, and to improving the world and Israeli society. We will continue following in his footsteps, working to bring about an end to the injustices of the occupation.
Today, Dec. 3, Civil Administration personnel and soldiers confiscated seven tents donated to the al-Hadidiyah community by the French aid organization ACTED. Residents were already living in four of the tents confiscated, which were erected after the authorities demolished and confiscated tents on three separate occasions during the last week. 15 people, including four minors, were left with no shelter against the rain and cold. The Israeli authorities’ continued harassment of the residents of al-Hadidiyah is part of their ongoing efforts to expel Palestinian communities from Area C.