Prominent Israeli writers Zeruya Shalev, Eyal Megged, Sayed Kashua and Alona Kimhi visited the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank yesterday. The writers met with the Palestinian residents of the village of Jenbah, who told them about the reality of their lives and the danger they face of being expelled from the site, which the military has declared “Firing Zone 918”.
The planned route of the Separation Barrier around the village of al-Walajah will sever the Hajajleh family from the rest of the village. In 2010, the Civil Administration informed the family that their home would remain on the other side of the barrier, that it would be enclosed by a wire fence and linked to the rest of the village through an underground passageway. After the Hajajlehs petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice, the State agreed, in lieu of surrounding the house with a wire fence, to close the underground passageway with a gate that only members of the family would be allowed to cross without prior coordination. Once the Separation Barrier around al-Walajah is completed, the Hajajleh home will be isolated and the family will be denied the possibility of normal daily life.
Yesterday, 22 June 2013, Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip executed two Palestinian men sentenced to death by the military court in Gaza: ‘Imad Mahmoud Ibn Ghalyun, 49, Hussein Yusef al-Khatib, 43. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza, 15 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.
B’Tselem CCTV footage of masked settlers setting fire to a tool-shed in the village of ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, in the northern West Bank on 18 June 2013. Settlers claimed responsibility for the arson in a report published in a settler website. B’Tselem demands a Police investigation to apprehend the perpetrators, as well as a military inquiry into whether soldiers were on duty at the nearby post - located just some 200 meters from the shed - while the attack took place and, if so, why they did not apprehend the perpetrators.
According to B’Tselem’s inquiry, on 15 May 2013, two Palestinians trying to enter Israel through a breach in the Separation Barrier were attacked by dogs, allegedly on soldiers’ orders. B’Tselem applied to the MAG Corps demanding an investigation of the attack and the allegation that the soldiers had used excessive force in arresting the men. B’Tselem also wrote to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria demanding that the use of attack dogs against unarmed civilians be prohibited. No response has been received to date.
B’Tselem has written to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria demanding that he prohibit the use of attack dogs against Palestinian civilians. The letter follows a recent incident in which two Palestinians trying to enter Israel for work were attacked. B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell wrote that “setting dogs on civilians under such circumstances is inherently wrong and immoral. This use of dogs is dangerous in that they cannot be kept fully under control. It intimidates the population at large and has already caused severe harm to civilians.”
On Sunday, 26 May 2013, the military came to the home of the ‘Awads in Budrus to arrest ‘Abd a-Rahim ‘Awad. A younger son, Samir, had been killed by Israeli soldiers in January. In the course of the arrest, soldiers used force against ‘Abd a-Rahim and his family. The military stated that the family had violently resisted the arrest and that the soldiers’ response was “minimal”. To justify the soldiers’ behavior, the military released an edited video clip showing a small part of the incident. B’Tselem’s research indicates that, contrary to the military’s version, the soldiers acted violently from the very start, even before the family had a chance to resist. When ‘Abd a-Rahim’s family tried to protect him, the soldiers responded with violence and also heavily damaged the house.
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60% of the West Bank is designated Area C, under exclusive Israeli control. It is home to 180,000 Palestinians and includes most West Bank land reserves. Israel, citing “state lands” or “firing zones”, largely prohibits Palestinian construction. Israel’s planning policy ignores local needs: refuses to recognize villages or draft plans; blocks development and infrastructure hook-ups; and demolishes homes. Thousands are in danger of expulsion for living in firing zones or “illegal” communities. Israel has appropriated most water sources and restricts Palestinian access to them.
In September 2012, Israel’s Public Defender's office published a report on the isolation of inmates in Israeli prisons. The report criticized the isolation of minors and called for this measure to be restricted or limited in scope. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) provided B’Tselem with figures indicating that, from Jan. 2007 to 28 April 2013, 5,602 inmates were held in isolation, among them 1,493 Palestinians. Of these, 244 were minors, including 76 teenagers who were held in isolation on 100 separate occasions. The international standards set by the UN absolutely forbid holding minors in isolation.
In recent months, B’Tselem staff and volunteers have captured on video several incidents in which settlers attacked Palestinians or damaged their property in the presence of security forces. Most of the incidents described here occurred following the stabbing to death of Yitzhar resident Evyatar Borovsky on 30 April 2013. The other two incidents occurred at other times and in different areas in the West Bank. B’Tselem wrote to the law enforcement authorities demanding investigations of the settlers’ violence and the security forces’ conduct in these incidents. In addition, B’Tselem wrote to OC Central Command demanding that he ensure adequate preparation of the forces for future incidents of settler violence.
The Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) will investigate a serious incident in which soldiers and Border Policemen beat a Palestinian youth while arresting him. The incident was captured by a security camera of the Ofra settlement, but the camera operators diverted the camera from the violent scene, apparently so as to avoid documenting it, and the video footage of the arrest was not transferred to the detainee’s defense attorney for nearly a month, during which time the youngster was held in detention. The MPIU only notified B’Tselem today that an investigation is to be opened, after the organization wrote urgently yesterday to demand investigation into the violent arrest and into suspicions of disruption of proceedings and failure to report a crime by the persons involved in the filming or persons who knew of it.
Some 511 Gazan men, including 14 minors, are currently being held as prisoners and detainees in Israel. In July 2012, after a five-year hiatus, family visits to Gazan inmates in Israel were resumed. From that time until 22 April 2013, most of the inmates have received visits. Israel permits inmates to be visited by their parents, wives and children under eight years old; children over eight, siblings and grandparents are not allowed to visit. Permission for children under the age of eight to visit their imprisoned fathers was granted only in May 2013. B’Tselem calls upon the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to allow all first-degree relatives, including children of all ages, to visit Gazans being held in Israel.
On Tuesday, 21 May 2013, the IDF spokesperson and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories announced that the prime minister and the minister of defense had authorized the IDF to extend the fishing range in the Gaza Strip from three to six nautical miles. This decision comes after two months during which the range had been reduced in the wake of missile fire from Gaza into Israel. Reduction of the fishing range in response to missile fire constitutes collective punishment which is prohibited by international law and also severely harms fishermen’s livelihood.
On 9 September 2012 B’Tselem contacted the Dept. for the Investigation of Police (DIP) demanding an investigation of Border Police officers who allegedly assaulted Sa’id Qiblawi, 14. According to testimonies B’Tselem collected, Qiblawi was arrested near his home by Border Police who were being stoned. A policeman dragged Qiblawi along the ground and put him into a jeep, where he was beaten. On 2 May 2013 the DIP informed B’Tselem that upon conclusion of the investigation, the case was closed for lack of evidence. B’Tselem applied to the DIP on behalf of the complainant’s family, requesting the investigative material in order to explore the option of appealing the closing of the case.
After several months of field research and crosschecking data, human rights organization B’Tselem published a report today (Thursday, 9 May 2013) reviewing harm to civilians in Operation Pillar of Defense. The report provides statistics on the numbers of Palestinians and Israelis killed over the course of the operation, which lasted from 14 to 21 November 2012. The report challenges the common perception in the Israeli public and media that the operation was “surgical” and caused practically no fatalities among uninvolved Palestinian civilians. Furthermore, the report finds that there was a significant difference between the first and the final days of the operation: of the uninvolved Palestinian fatalities, 80% were killed in the last four days of the operation.
On Tuesday, 30 April 2013, immediately following the stabbing attack in which a Palestinian killed Evyatar Borovsky, a resident of the settlement Yitzhar, dozens of settlers from Yitzhar began revenge attacks against the adjacent Palestinian villages. Settlers also stoned cars driving on route 60, in the vicinity of the settlement. B'Tselem volunteers in the villages documented the events with video cameras from their homes and vantage points in the area.
On 24 April 2013, as has been a frequent occurrence of late, settlers from Giv’at Gal came onto the privately owned land of the Zaro family, of Hebron. The landowners called the police to report the trespassing. Israeli soldiers came to the scene and, rather than sending the settlers away, arrested the Palestinians. Part of the incident was filmed by a volunteer in B’Tselem’s camera project. The detainees were released the following day by a military judge after this footage was presented in court and it was proven that the there was no justification for the arrest, which involved violence towards one of the Zaros.
International Workers’ Day commemorates the historic struggle for the eight-hour workday. Over a century after that goal was achieved, Palestinian workers are still fighting for basic labor rights, primarily their right to work without risking their lives. Israel, whose military rule of the West Bank began nearly 46 years ago, does not promote economic development there and strictly limits the number of Palestinians given permits to work in Israel. This policy primarily harms Palestinians who have no choice but to enter Israel illegally, and are thereby exposed to exploitation and their rights abused. As long as Israel prevents Palestinian economic development, it must grant work permits to Palestinians and ensure their social rights.
On 3 April 2013 soldiers standing near the guard tower at the ‘Anabta/Einav checkpoint shot and killed two Palestinians. Press reports indicate that the soldiers had advance warning of the Palestinians’ approach to the checkpoint and were waiting for them outside the military guard tower. B’Tselem’s inquiry indicates that soldiers may have acted in contravention of open-fire regulations.