Updates

According to B'Tselem's initial figures, 83 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip from the early hours of 8 July 2014, when the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge, to the evening of 10 July. Our initial findings indicate there were at least 38 civilian fatalities, including 23 minors, 15 women and four persons over the age of 60. B'Tselem will continue to investigate these incidents of civilian fatalities as well as handle new reports being received of civilian casualties.

July 11

"I heard a loud explosion. I grabbed Kinan and went out into the street with him. It was full of smoke and dust. I walked on bits of glass. I left Kinan with people in the street and went back into the yard to check on the rest of the family. I found bodies lying on the ground covered in blood, with their clothes torn. Everything was full of shrapnel and blood. Some neighbors came with flashlights. When they lit up the yard, I was shocked – I saw the bodies of my three sons, 'Abd al-Hafez, Mahdi and Ibrahim, my wife, my granddaughter Dina, and my daughter-in-law Suha. The two other little ones, Rakan and Nur, were lightly injured."

July 10

Since the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge in the early hours of 8 July 2014, the IDF Spokesperson and media sources have reported deliberate attacks against the homes of senior activists in armed Palestinian groups. The IDF Spokesperson reported that 11 such homes were attacked. Even if uninvolved civilians are not injured, these houses are not legitimate military targets, and attacking them is a violation of international humanitarian law. The gravity of the violation is compounded when uninvolved civilians are injured. Until now, B’Tselem has documented one case in which civilians were in a house bombed after a prior warning missile was fired:

July 9

On 17 June 2014 soldiers came to a Bitunya workshop whose security cameras captured the killing of Nadim Nuwara and Muhammad Salameh. Owner Fakhr Abu Zayed said he was taken to Ofer Camp, where officers accused him of fabricating the footage, threatened him and demanded that he remove the cameras – all unlawful conduct. The law enforcement establishment would do better to focus on investigating the killings, not use scare tactics against a person who provided evidence of human rights violations or try to prevent a record of future violations.

July 8

Yesterday (8 July 2014), the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. According to the IDF Spokesperson, the military has attacked some 100 targets, including homes of senior Hamas activists. According to media reports, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have fired some 50 rockets and mortar shells at south Israel until around lunchtime. B’Tselem has found that some 10 people, including minors, were killed in Gaza today. B'Tselem reiterates its demand that all parties to the hostilities prevent harm to civilians.

July 8

B’Tselem strongly condemns the abduction and killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, of Shu’fat, who was burned alive by his captors. B’Tselem also wishes to express its sincerest condolences to Abu Khdeir’s family. This act of violence undermines all moral, legal and human norms. The intentional killing of civilians is categorically prohibited under international humanitarian law, which defines it as a grave breach, and states that such an action has no justification, regardless of the circumstances. In view of the present situation, it is essential that the investigation of this case be transparent and include swift and complete disclosure of its findings, first to Abu Khdeir’s family and immediately thereafter to the public.

July 6

It is unsurprising that the HCJ rejected HaMoked’s petition against demolition of the home of the 2 Palestinians charged with killing Baruch Mizrahi as it has rejected most such petitions against punitive home demolitions, refusing to recognize their unlawfulness. Since 1967 the military has rendered homeless thousands of people not themselves accused of wrongdoing. The military gave up this policy in 2005, yet the state considers it justified now in view of the circumstances. This unreasonable position is meant to sanction draconian measures of collective punishment in response to the charged public atmosphere in the wake of the abduction and killing of 3 yeshiva students.

July 1

B'Tselem strongly condemns the abduction and killing of the three Yeshiva students, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrah, and offers its condolences to the families. Deliberate targeting of civilians undermines all moral, legal and human principles. The deliberate killing of civilians is defined as a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and cannot be justified, regardless of the circumstances.

June 30

B'Tselem renews its call to the Israeli government to refrain from acts of vengeance for the abduction and killing of the three Israeli teens. B'Tselem cautions the security forces to avoid harming the innocent Palestinian population, or abusing the public atmosphere in Israel with the discovery of the bodies, to impose collective punishment, as was done in the past two weeks as part of the searches. The deliberate harming of an entire civilian population as punishment for the actions of individuals is both illegal and immoral. Additionally, the security forces must prepare for possible acts of revenge by settlers.

June 30

B'Tselem renews its call to the Israeli government to refrain from acts of vengeance for the abduction and killing of the three Israeli teens. B'Tselem cautions the security forces to avoid harming the innocent Palestinian population, or abusing the public atmosphere in Israel with the discovery of the bodies, to impose collective punishment, as was done in the past two weeks as part of the searches. The deliberate harming of an entire civilian population as punishment for the actions of individuals is both illegal and immoral. Additionally, the security forces must prepare for possible acts of revenge by settlers.

June 30

On 10 June 2014, nearly 17 months after Lubna al-Hanash was killed and two months after her father and B'Tselem petitioned the HCJ demanding that the MAG decide whether to indict those responsible for her death, the MAG Corps decided to close the investigation without filing charges. Al-Hanash was killed by a gunshot wound to her head while walking with a relative in a park near Route 60. B'Tselem's investigation found that the two women posed no danger and that the soldier who fired did not take minimal precautions to avoid harm to bystanders.

June 29

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that the family home of the two Palestinians indicted for the attack that killed Baruch Mizrahi be demolished. Two families numbering 13 individuals, including 8 children, live in that home. Demolition of the home would equal adoption of an official policy that harms the innocent. "We have nowhere else to go. If the house is demolished, we'll put a tent on top of the ruins and live there" said Hanan ‘Awawdeh to B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'abri, who visited her last week and took the photos. Following an urgent objection filed by Israeli human rights organization HaMoked, the military announced its intention to demolish only the section of the house. The military is set to carry out the demolition tomorrow, Monday, at 12:00 midday.

June 29

An op-ed By Hagai El-Ad, B'Tselem's executive director, originally published in Haaretz: three families hanging between despair and hope, and if only that hope could win. But what responsibility is this, what hope is this, and what humanity is this if it is so completely blind to the Palestinian suffering? A great majority of the time, for most of the Jews here, the Palestinian suffering is completely denied. When it is not documented on video it interests almost no one, and when it is documented it is repressed as a conspiracy.

June 23

The intention to demolish the family home of the two Palestinians charged with the killing of Baruch Mizrahi means adopting an official policy of harming the innocent. The two suspects will be tried for the attack, and are expected to be sentenced to long periods of detention. Their family members, who are not suspected of any offence, are the ones who will suffer the loss of their home: 13 people are currently living in the house, including 8 children. Years ago, the army concluded that punitive home demolitions are not an effective measure to deter attacks against Israelis. It seems therefore that the motives are reaping revenge and politically capitalizing on the current public mood in Israel, in light of the abduction.

June 23

This morning, 22 June 2014, human rights organizations active in the Occupied Territories sent an urgent letter to the heads of the Israeli security establishment and military commanders in the West Bank, demanding that they refrain from collectively punishing the civilian Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper. The letter also demanded that the more stringent restrictions imposed on the detention conditions of Palestinian prisoners be withdrawn.

June 22

As part of efforts to locate the 3 abducted students stringent travel restrictions were imposed on Hebron District residents on Sat., 14 June. Some restrictions constitute unlawful collective punishment: barring entrance to Israel by Hebron residents with permits; prohibiting 16 to 50-year-old male Hebron residents travel to Jordan. Other collective punishment: a ban on family visits to Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Politicians’ statements raise grave concerns that Israel will adopt measures designed to harm and pressure local Palestinians.

June 17

B’Tselem shares the great concern and worry over the fate of the three abducted yeshiva students, two of them minors, and the hope that they will be returned safe and sound to their homes. Deliberate attacks against civilians are absolutely prohibited. Those holding the teens must release them without delay. Along with the efforts to locate the abducted youths and bring them safely home, the authorities must adopt every possible measure at their disposal to uphold human rights. Israeli authorities must refrain from meting out collective punishment and they must take whatever steps necessary to prevent violence directed at Palestinians.

June 15

After undertaking an autopsy of the body of Nadim Nawarah, 17, on Wednesday, forensic pathologists have determined that a live bullet was the cause of his death. The Palestinian teenager was killed by Israeli forces on May 15 during clashes in the West Bank town of Beitunia. Responding to the conclusions of the autopsy, the four organizations who coordinated the attendance of the international forensic pathologists stated: "These findings underline the urgency of our demand that the criminal investigation into the Beitunia killings be conducted efficiently and concluded promptly. Rather than attempting to discredit those who called for an investigation, the Israeli military should now focus on uncovering the truth about the shootings, and holding those responsible to account."

June 12

On 9 June 2014, a bill to force feed prisoners passed first reading in the Israeli Knesset. The bill was initiated by the Ministry of Public Security in response to a hunger strike by Palestinian inmates. Force feeding hunger strikers is a violation of their dignity, right to autonomy over their body and right to protest by whatever means they choose. It also violates medical ethics. Instead of punishing people protesting their unlawful detention, Israel should change its administrative detention policy, which defies international law.

June 11

Hassan a-Taber, 47, of Beitillu, was killed on 29 July 2012 when police and a security guard at a-Za’ayem Checkpoint fired at the van driving him and other laborers without work permits into Israel. The DIP investigated the shooting and closed the case on the grounds that it was not unlawful. B’Tselem’s appeal, arguing the investigation had been negligent, was denied. The closing of the case and the rejected appeal effectively render meaningless open-fire regulations and the procedures of ensuring accountability for severe human rights violations.

June 2