Updates

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah is a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank. The settlement of Yizhar was founded nearby, making the village one of six in the area subject to frequent settler violence. Many settler attacks on the local villagers’ and their property have been documented over the past few years. In some cases, the footage shows soldiers standing by, not fulfilling their duty to safeguard the residents. About two months ago, we drove out to ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah to visit B’Tselem’s camera project volunteers there. During our visit, B’Tselem staff member Osnat Skoblinski shot the photos below.

January 22

The military came to al-'Arrub R.C. twice in recent weeks and put up posters threatening harm to parents of sons who persist in "acts of terrorism" and "disturbances of the peace". Some posters featured photos of the parents, a serious breach of their right to privacy even a case of personal persecution. B’Tselem and ACRI applied to the Legal Advisor of the Judea and Samaria Division demanding that he end the unlawful use of scare tactics and punish the soldiers involved, and also that he inform the troops that such "initiatives" are unlawful.

January 21

Nibal Mghari, who lives in Gaza with her husband and children, and her mother, who lives in Jenin, describe the pain and longing of being cut off from each other. A report by HaMoked and B’Tselem explores Palestinians’ right to family life in view of Israel’s isolationist policy, which practically prohibits passage between Gaza and the West Bank, thereby severing families and keeping tens of thousands of people from living normally. Basic features of life–building a family, living with one’s spouse and children and regular contact with the extended family–become a pipedream.

January 20

The report explores Palestinians’ right to family life in view of Israel’s isolationist policy, which practically prohibits passage between Gaza and the West Bank, thereby severing families and keeping couples from living normally, if one spouse is from Gaza and the other from the West Bank. Tens of thousands face this impossible reality, whereby Israel intrudes on the most intimate aspects of life. Basic features of life–building a family, living with one’s spouse and children and regular contact with the extended family–become a pipedream.

January 19

The 25 residents of Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah in the northern Jordan Valley have spent the last few nights out in the open, after their homes and sheep-pens were demolished twice this month by the Civil Administration. On 8 Jan. 2014 the Civil Administration demolished all of the structures. The families were given replacement tents by the ICRC, but the authorities dismantled and confiscated them. The families have received no assistance since, and now sleep out in the open. The residents are concerned about rain and the effect it will have on their children and livestock.

January 16

Over the past decade downtown Hebron has become a ghost town. Israel has enacted a strict segregationist policy there, enforced by imposing stringent restrictions on Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles, closing shops and businesses, and not safeguarding Palestinians from settler violence. As a result, entire neighborhoods have been deserted. We took a group of American Young Judeans on a tour of downtown Hebron. This was the first time most of them had been to downtown Hebron. Sharon Azran, a photographer and a B’Tselem staff member, joined the tour. Below are some of her photos:

January 16

“Smile, and the World Will Smile Back”, a documentary film by the al-Haddad family of Hebron made in collaboration with Ehab Tarabieh and Yoav Gross – volunteer photographers in B'Tselem's camera project and filmmakers, respectively – is to be screened as part of the short film competition at the Berlinale International Film Festival. The film documents one winter’s night at the al-Haddad home in Hebron. A group of soldiers arrives for a routine night search there, for reasons unknown to the family. Diaa and Shatha al-Hadaad, brother and sister, pick up the home video camera and record the events as they unfold throughout the night. The soldiers force Diaa to stand facing a wall, saying they won’t leave unless he stops smiling.

January 15

Since it imposed a siege on Gaza in 2007, Israel has allowed almost no construction supplies into Gaza, with the exception of supplies for international projects. The construction sector relied on materials brought in from Egypt through tunnels. After Egyptian President Morsi was overthrown, Egyptian security forces demolished many tunnels, and only three are currently operating. As a result, construction has ground to a halt in Gaza, leaving thousands unemployed. As the land crossings with Israel are now the only route for importing construction materials, the construction needs of the 1.7 million residents of Gaza are not being met. Israel, whose responsibility is heightened by this reality, must instate a new policy that takes into account the needs of Gazan’s residents, not only Israel’s security needs.

January 14

This morning, 13 Jan. Israeli soldiers and Civil Administration officers arrived at Khirbet ‘Ein Karzaliyah, took down six tents the families received from the ICRC and confiscated them, leaving the families again without shelter.This comes a week after the Civil Administration demolished all structures in the small Palestinian community in the Jordan Valley, comprised of 10 adults and 15 children.

January 13

This morning (Jan. 8) the Civil Administration demolished all structures in the Palestinian community of Khirbet ‘Ein Karzaliyah in the Jordan Valley, comprised of 10 adults and 15 minors, who have been left with no shelter for themselves or their livestock in the harsh winter weather conditions. B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell said earlier today “Israel has once again forgotten that control entails responsibility. The Jordan Valley cannot be addressed as a merely theoretical issue, discussing its future while completely disregarding the fate of its residents. At the moment, the authorities must set aside their political ambitions and consider the fate of 25 individuals, who do not know how they’ll get through the night and how their flocks, their only source of income and livelihood, will fare.”

January 8

On 6 Jan. 2014, masked settlers arrived at a construction site of a water reservoir being built with USAID funding in the village of ‘Urif,. The settlers smashed the electricity meter at site and threw stones at the home of the Safadi family and the school. The settlers were accompanied by soldiers as well as by at least one armed settler, apparently one of the settlement’s security guards. A video filmed by a local villager shows that the military, which is required to defend Palestinians in the West Bank, in served as a security entourage for the violent settlers. During the incident, the military backed the settlers in their assault on Palestinians and their property.

January 8

Three times as many people were killed in the West Bank in 2013 as were in 2012. In contrast to the situation from 2003 to 2012 when most Palestinian fatalities occurred in the Gaza Strip, in 2013 the majority of Palestinian fatalities occurred in the West Bank. B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell said, “The sharp rise in fatalities in the West Bank only serves to intensify concern about lack of accountability. Admittedly, MPIU investigations are now launched almost automatically, yet the essence of the investigative mechanism remains unchanged. It is slow and cumbersome and decisions are made only years after an incident takes place. Such a mechanism, in which practically no one is held accountable for the killing of Palestinians, does not serve as a deterrent and indicates disregard for human life.”

December 31

The 25-strong farming and shepherding community of Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah faces eviction after the HCJ accepted the State's position that the site was a military training zone and that they were not permanent residents. According to International Humanitarian Law, protected persons may be expelled only for urgent military necessity or to protect the local population. Expulsion for military training does not meet these requirements. The planned eviction is part of an ongoing policy aimed at expelling shepherd communities in the Jordan Valley and taking over the land. B'Tselem calls on the authorities to allow the residents of Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah to remain in their homes.

December 30

On Thursday, 26 December 2013, Ahmad Qattamesh was released from administrative detention after being held without trial since May 2011. Qattamesh, 61, a writer from al-Bireh, was already held in administrative detention for over four years in the 1990s. International law permits administrative detention only in highly exceptional cases; a restriction blatantly violated by Israel. B’Tselem calls on Israel to release all administrative detainees, or try them with due process if evidence exists against them.

December 29

B’Tselem documented 27 incidents in which Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians, stole olives and vandalized groves. Although the military made arrangements to protect Palestinians and their property during the olive harvest, its preparation was insufficient. In addition, it should be noted that Palestinians’ source of livelihood is harmed also by restrictions on access to groves located in or near settlements. The military must find alternative means of protecting settlements and ensure Palestinians' safe access to cultivate their lands year-round.

December 26

B’Tselem's initial inquiries indicates toddler Hala Abu Sbeikhah was killed yesterday after an Israeli tank fired three shells at her home. Hala’s aunt and two young cousins sustained injuries. Deliberate firing at a home occupied by civilians, without warning the inhabitants and ensuring they have vacated the premises, as appears to be the case in this situation, is unlawful. The military must immediately investigate the incident. Israeli military additionally closed Kerem Shalom Crossing, barring agricultural export and necessary fuel imports in a measure which constitutes collective punishment.

December 25

B’Tselem strongly condemns the killing today, 24 December, of Salah Abu Ltayef, 22, resident of the Bedouin community of Rahat,an Israeli civilian who worked as a contractor for the Construction Branch of the Ministry of Defense by Palestinian gunfire. There is absolutely no moral or legal justification for attacks that deliberately target civilians. Civilians must be kept separate from the fighting. This applies to countries, organizations and individuals.

December 24

Please take sixty seconds to watch this video, then share it with your community. Together we can bear witness and work to end human rights violations. If you haven't already done so, please consider a year-end donation to B'Tselem.

December 22

13 Nov. 2013, Burin: 11 villagers were taken from their beds and brought to the home of the high-school principal, which was converted into a makeshift interrogation center. The questioned men related that no charges were brought against them, and that the “interrogation” was meant to get them to prevent stone-throwing in the village. This severe infringement of civilians’ rights can hardly be justified. B’Tselem wrote to the relevant authorities inquiring whether the raid was part of official policy and, if so, what its legal grounds are.

December 19

The well-known public figure from Israel's pioneer generation explains why support for B'Tselem is so important: "B’Tselem does extraordinary work to protect the human rights of those living under occupation and to steer Israel to a path of justice and peace. To me, B’Tselem represents the Israeli heroism needed in this historical moment."

December 16