Despite the harsh criticism voiced earlier by the High Court justices, the judge advocate general sticks to his position that the charge of unbecoming conduct is suitable for a case in which a bound and blindfolded Palestinian was abused and shot.
On 5 Oct. '08, two fishermen sailed from Rafah in a rowboat. One of them, Muhammad Musleh, told B'Tselem that an Israeli navy boat fired at them without warning, although they were in the zone permitted for fishing by the army. Musleh was severely injured in his leg and is being treated in al-Muqassed Hospital in Jerusalem. B'Tselem knows of numerous cases, in the last two years, of soldiers shooting and abusing fishermen on the Gaza shoreline.
On 17 Oct. '08, several Jewish men armed with clubs attacked and beat Majdi and Khaled al-Husseini, residents of East Jerusalem, as they approached an ice cream shop in West Jerusalem. The two sought shelter with policemen standing nearby, who abused them. The paramedic treating Majdi al-Husseini, who was wounded, also abused him, willfully hurt him and tied his hands once inside the ambulance.
The olive-picking, which began several weeks ago, has been accompanied by fear of settler attacks on Palestinian farmers. Several cases of harassment have occurred, including destruction of trees and crops, stone throwing and beating of farmers. B'Tselem reiterates the arm's responsibility to protect farmers on their lands.
On 11 Sept. '08, in the middle of the night, soldiers arrested Muhammad Khawajah, 12, from Ni'lin village, beating and dragging him on his stomach. The child, suspected of stone throwing at a demonstration, was beaten during interrogation and held in Ofer Prison for 4 days with adult detainees. 'Abd a-Rahman al-Halim, a 14-year-old arrested with him, was held for 45 days.
B'Tselem severely condemns the Palestinian terror attack today in Gilo neighborhood in East Jerusalem, in which an elderly Israeli civilian was stabbed to death. Attacks aimed at civilians are immoral, inhuman, and illegal. Intentional killing of civilians is considered a war crime that can never be justified, whatever the circumstances may be.
On 28 Sept. '08, the Israeli High Court held a hearing on the petition of Ashraf Abu Rahma and human rights organizations demanding amendment of the indictment against the battalion commander and soldier involved in the shooting of Abu Rahma in Ni'lin. The justices ordered the military Judge Advocate General's Office to reconsider the indictment and to inform the court of its decision within 40 days.
On 14 August 2008, in the middle of the night, soldiers entered the home of the Abu 'Aker family, in the Deheishe refugee camp, to arrest the father. They ordered him and his children to undress in front of them, severely beat the father, slapped his thirteen-year-old son, and turned the house upside down, breaking things in the process. B'Tselem demanded the Judge Advocate General's Office to investigate the incident.
B'Tselem today (Wed. 24 Sept.) launches its new U.S. office at a reception on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C.. Recognizing the central role of the United States, B'Tselem hopes that its presence will inform the political and public discourse in this country and ensure that human rights are a centerpiece of the bilateral relationship and all diplomatic efforts.
Over the past year, settlers from Yitzhar and the surrounding area have sharply stepped up violent acts in nearby Palestinian villages. On 13 Sept., after a Palestinian stabbed a Jewish boy and burnt down a caravan in a settlement near Yitzhar, dozens of settlers raided the village of 'Asira al-Qibliya, rioted and widely damaged property. Soldiers were present at the time, yet did nothing to prevent the settlers' actions, and fired at the Palestinians.
On 4 Sept. '08, Naheel Abu Ridah, seven months pregnant, was rushed to hospital in severe pain. When she reached Huwara checkpoint with three relatives, soldiers refused to let them cross by car despite the family's pleas. She delivered in the car, and the baby was born dead. The checkpoint commander was sentenced in a disciplinary hearing to 14 days in an army prison.
Today (11 September) B'Tselem is publishing a report on Israel's blocking of Palestinian access to land around settlements lying east of the Separation Barrier. The report reveals that state authorities and settlers have de-facto annexed rings of land amounting to tens of thousands of dunams to these settlements.
Over the past year, Israel has escalated its policy of separating the populations of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The separation regime splits families, puts thousands at risk of expulsion to the Gaza Strip and turns Palestinians into "illegal aliens" in their own homes, as revealed in a position paper published today (10 September) by HaMoked and B'Tselem.
According to B'Tselem's data, 13 Palestinian minors are being held in prolonged administrative detention in Israel, in breach of law. As of June '08, 730 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention in Israel.
In a case first reported by B'Tselem, the District Court in Jerusalem today convicted Shahar Butbika and Dennis Alhazov for the killing of 'Imran Abu Hamdiya. Two other border policemen, Yaniv Lazleh and Assam Wahabi, were previously convicted in the case. In December 2002, the four policemen grabbed Hamdiya, a seventeen-year-old youth, beat him severely, and threw him from a moving jeep.
B'Tselem's data indicate that security forces have adopted a practice of reckless firing of rubber-coated steel bullets in the West Bank, killing two Palestinians and injuring many more since the beginning of the year. Since the intifada began, 21 Palestinians have been killed by rubber-coated steel bullet fire, a measure that is meant to be non-lethal.
Two Palestinians were recently sentenced to death in the PA after being convicted of treason and conspiracy for "collaboration" with Israel. Although there is a clear international trend toward eliminating the death penalty, the PA has yet to do so.
On 1 August, after children threw stones at soldiers in the Jalazun refugee camp, a soldier fired a tear gas canister at a young bystander. Following B'Tselem's complaint, an investigation into the incident was opened. Soldiers often fire tear gas canisters directly at Palestinians, despite legal and military prohibitions.
This morning, Ashraf Abu Rahma, who was shot by IDF soldiers in Ni'lin while handcuffed and blindfolded, together with four Israeli human rights organizations filed an urgent petition to the High Court of Justice against the Judge Advocate General's decision to prosecute the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Omri Borberg, and the soldier who fired the shot, Staff Sgt. L, for "unbecoming conduct," a light offense that does not result in a criminal record.
Following a petition against the indictment for "unbecoming conduct", the Israeli High Court has obliged the JAG to justify his decision. The court also suspended military court proceedings until the petition is decided upon.