Updates

Use of firearms

On 3 March 2013, B’Tselem filed an appeal against the decision of the MAG Corps’ not to indict in the case of Eran Cohen, an Israel civilian injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet during a demonstration in Bil’in on 14 March 2008. Cohen was shot by an Israeli officer despite having done nothing to endanger the soldiers, as can be seen in two separate videos of the incident that were conveyed to the police. The MAG Corps refused to disclose to B’Tselem its reasoning for closing the case.

March 7

Following the death of Muhammad ‘Asfur this morning from injuries sustained two weeks ago, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem wrote to Military Advocate General Major-General Danny Efroni, repeating its demand that cases of severe injury to Palestinians by soldiers’ fire be immediately investigated. Two days ago, B’Tselem sent the MAG a list of five incidents in which Palestinians were injured recently by soldiers, including the case of ‘Asfur, who was shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet.

March 7

The mother of a resident of the village of Bil’in who was killed by a tear-gas grenade fired at him by a soldier has petitioned the High Court of Justice. The petition demands that the Military Advocate General, Major-General Danny Efroni, be ordered to reach a decision in the case and prosecute the soldier who fired the grenade and all those bearing command responsibility for the killing of her son. In the petition, which was filed jointly with Bil’in Village Council, B’Tselem and Yesh Din, Subhiya Abu Rahmeh demands an urgent hearing in view of the fact that almost four years have passed since her son was killed. The incident was documented in the film Five Broken Cameras, which was a candidate for the 2013 Academy Awards.

March 4

On 15 January 2013, Samir ‘Awad, 16, was killed by live ammunition fired by Israeli soldiers near the Separation Barrier at Budrus. A B’Tselem inquiry reveals that the soldiers were not in danger at any time. Nevertheless, and in total contravention of open-fire regulations, they shot ‘Awad three times. The Military Advocate General (MAG) Corps announced that same day that it ordered an investigation to be opened. B’Tselem conveyed to the Military Police Investigations Unit all the information it collected on the incident, and is awaiting the conclusion of the investigation.

February 21

Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem welcomes the recommendations of the Turkel Commission concerning investigations of violations of the laws of armed conflict and calls for full and prompt implementation. Implementation of the commission’s recommendations will lead to a substantive change in the Israeli military’s investigatory apparatus. In its recommendations, the commission adopted several fundamental principles presented to it by representatives of B’Tselem, other human rights organizations and senior jurists.

February 6

In January 2013, Israeli soldiers fatally shot four Palestinians in the West Bank and at least one in the Gaza Strip. According to B’Tselem’s preliminary inquiries into the five cases in which the Israeli military has accepted responsibility for the firing, the people killed were unarmed and posed no danger to the soldiers.
B’Tselem is monitoring the MPIU investigations and would emphasize that, in addition to investigating the circumstances of each incident, the investigators must also examine the written and oral directives conveyed to the soldiers involved.

January 30

A new B’Tselem report reveals the full inventory of crowd control weapons used by Israeli security forces in the West Bank. These weapons are meant to be non-lethal, enabling authorities to enforce the law without endangering human life. In fact, however, some of these weapons are dangerous and may be lethal if used improperly. Crowd control weapons have killed and injured demonstrators and people throwing stones.

January 28

A B’Tselem investigation indicates that on Monday, 19 November 2012, students from the Tuqu’ boys’ high school were protesting the Pillar of Defense campaign in the Gaza Strip. The school is located near Route 356, which links Bethlehem and Hebron, and some of the students were throwing stones at the road. Consequently, an Israeli military force arrived on the scene. In a video filmed by a Ma’an News Agency photographer, one of the soldiers is seen firing live ammunition at the students, even though none of the soldiers was in danger. A bullet hit one student in the abdomen. B’Tselem contacted the Military Advocate General Corps, demanding an investigation of the incident.

January 6

"On ordinary days, when I go to work, I leave Rama with my parents who live seven, eight kilometers away from us, in the a-Sheikh Radwan neighborhood. Rama is very attached to them. Now she cries a lot and asks to go to her grandpa and grandma, and repeats the names of her uncles and aunts. She goes to her closet, takes out her clothes and her little bag and walks to the door. I don’t know what to say to her, how to explain that we cannot go to grandpa and grandma".

December 6

B'Tselem sent a letter to the MAG Corps stating that a year is unreasonably long for this kind of investigation. The longer the process is drawn out, the greater the damage to the prospects for an effective criminal proceeding. B'Tselem added that it intends to seek legal remedy if no progress is made in the handling of the case.

December 5

Yael Stein, Research Director, B’Tselem, in an op-ed originally published 3 December 2012 in the Hebrew Haaretz: Israeli legal experts pronounced lawful all actions taken in Operation Pillar of Defense. That said, they seem to treat international humanitarian law as a combat manual designed to help them identify targets, rather than as guidelines designed to protect civilians from the dire consequences of warfare and to minimize, insofar as possible, harm to civilians.

December 4

Media reports state that in the ceasefire negotiations to end Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel and Hamas reached understandings that include the easing of restrictions on the movement of farmers and fishermen in the Gaza Strip. Among other things, it was agreed that the Israeli military would permit Gaza farmers to cultivate plots located up to 100 meters from the Israel-Gaza perimeter fence. This is a change from the official Israeli prohibition of recent years which forbade any approach closer than 300 meters from the fence. In addition, Gaza fishermen may now fish up to six nautical miles (approximately 11 km) from the Gaza coast, compared with the 3-mile limit imposed prior to Operation Pillar of Defense.

November 27

"I was in shock when I discovered that a missile [sic] had fallen right next to the wall surrounding the compound and destroyed it. I saw my grandson Iyad lying dead on the ground. He had been hit by shrapnel from the shell. My other grandson, Suhaib, was lying next to him but he was moving. Also my granddaughter Sarah was lying on the ground. I called an ambulance immediately. I picked up Iyad. We stood there crying for help."

November 22

B'Tselem has written urgently to the IDF OC Central Command, the Commander of Military Forces in Judea and Samaria, and the Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria, demanding that it be made unequivocally clear to soldiers and commanders in the West Bank that there is an absolute prohibition on shooting live ammunition at stone throwers. The letter follows the killing of two Palestinians and the wounding of dozens by live ammunition fired at stone throwers, and by the unlawful use of crowd control weapons, during clashes and demonstrations against operation "Pillar of Defense" in the past week.

November 22

On the morning of November 18, 2012, the Israeli Air Force struck two buildings in Gaza City in which both local and foreign news agencies maintain their offices. Seven employees of Al-Quds TV were injured, two of them seriously. The IDF Spokesman said in a statement that the attacks were directed against the communications infrastructure of Hamas, which it claims Hamas uses to communicate operational orders and disseminate propaganda. B’Tselem is not in a position to determine whether there is any basis for this claim. However, international humanitarian law holds that the media, including those outlets belonging directly to parties to the conflict, are not legitimate military targets.

November 21

In a short piece published in the New York Times, B'Tselem's Executive Director puts the current fighting in the broader context of Israel's closure of the Gaza Strip. A ceasefire must protect both Israelis and Palestinians from rocket-fire, she writes. It must also ensure that Gazans can live a life with dignity.

November 21

"I felt as if I was about to fly through the air, and the window shattered. I saw that the bomb had landed in our yard. I found Samaher in the yard. She had several injuries. I tried to talk to her, but she was already dead. There was nothing I could do. I am left with Mayar, a baby not even two months old. Up to now, she had been nursing."

November 21

According to media reports, on 10 November 2012 armed Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military jeep. Four soldiers were wounded, one seriously. In response, the Israeli military fired four tank shells - in short intervals - at a populated civilian area in eastern Gaza City, about 1.5 kilometers from the Gaza Strip perimeter fence. Four Palestinian civilians, including two minors, were killed. It is doubtful if firing a tank shell at a populated area constitutes a proportional response. An investigation by B'Tselem indicates that, after the first shell was fired, civilians came to aid the injured. Under such circumstances, the military should not have fired additional shells.

November 21

Initial B’Tselem investigations indicate that 102 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip between the launch of the Israeli military’s “Pillar of Defense” operation on the afternoon of November 14, 2012 and the night of November 19. The investigations indicate that at least 40 of those killed were civilians, among them 19 minors, and 10 women. Three Israelis were killed in the course of the operation up to the night of the 19th, as a result of rocket fire from Gaza by Palestinian militant organizations.

November 21