In August 228 people - including 124 minors – lost their homes in a demolition spree in the West Bank by Israeli authorities. Most demolitions were carried out in small shepherding communities which face the constant threat of expulsion from Area C. Under the guise of enforcing construction laws, Israel pursues a policy to minimize Palestinian presence in Area C by making life there unbearable. This policy, systematically implemented for years, constitutes the forcible transfer of protected persons inside an occupied territory, be it directly – through the demolition of homes – or indirectly, by creating an intolerable reality.
On seven different occasions in June, during the fast of Ramadan, the military displaced dozens of Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley for hours on end, for military exercises, sometimes leaving pastures and crops trampled and scorched. Temporary displacements have become routine for many Jordan Valley communities, and they are not random. Knesset Subcommittee on the Judea and Samaria Area transcripts published in Israeli daily Haaretz reveal that one object of the training in the Jordan Valley is forcing out local Palestinians. ‘Aref Daraghmeh, a Jordan Valley resident and B’Tselem field researcher, documented how this reality impacts the displaced families.
Today, 20 Aug. 2015, the Israeli authorities left 19 persons, including 10 minors, in conditions of extreme heat without any solution. This is the third time this week the authorities have demolished homes and income generating structures in area C. The wave of demolitions left dozens of people homeless in the extreme August heat. Since 5 Aug. 2015, the Civil Administration has demolished 34 residential buildings and 31 other structures in Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley, in the vicinity of Ma’ale Adumim, and in the southern Hebron hills. A total of 167 people have lost their homes in these actions, including 101 minors.
Yesterday, 19 Aug. 2015, the Supreme Court suspended ‘Alan’s administrative detention order due to his medical condition. If it is found that the neurological damage is irreversible, the order will be voided. ‘Alan, 30, has been in administrative detention for over nine months and on hunger strike for two to protest the detention which denies his freedom without due process. Administrative detention is detention without trial: ‘Alan has not been indicted; has received no explanation for his imprisonment; and cannot even attempt to prove his innocence. On Friday he lost consciousness. On Tue. he regained it but his life still hangs in the balance. B’Tselem urges Israeli authorities to release ‘Alan immediately.
This morning the Civil Administration demolished 17 home and 7 structures for livestock in the village of Fasayil in the Jordan Valley, leaving 48 people, 31 of them minors homeless. Israel prevents Palestinians in the community from establishing permanent homes and connecting them to water and electricity infrastructures, thereby leaving them exposed to harsh weather conditions. Since 5 Aug. 2015, the Civil Administration has demolished 31 residential buildings and 26 other structures in Palestinian communities in area C. A total of 167 people have lost their homes in these actions, including 101 minors.
This morning, around 6 A.M., the Civil Administration and military demolished the homes of four families numbering 32 people, of them 21 minors at the a-Sa'idi community, near a-Za'ayem. The forces then moved to the Abu-Falah community, in the Khan al-Ahmar area, and demolished a residential shack housing two people and a structure used to house guests. Later the authorities demolished 12 structures in the adjacent Bir al-Maksub and Wadi Shneisel communities, nine of them residential homes. Authorities leave the residents and herds with no shelter in harsh weather conditions.
This morning, 11 Aug. 2015, Civil Administration and military forces demolished a family home under construction and two livestock pens in the Palestinian community of Khirbet Humsah in the northern Jordan Valley. They continued to the community of al-‘Ajaj, where they demolished the homes of two families numbering 12 people, including 6 minors, and two livestock pens. They then demolished a fodder storage structure in the village of a-Zubeidat.
On the night of 22 July 2015 soldiers entered 19 homes in the Palestinian village of Qusrah, the West Bank and took down the occupants’ details. B’Tselem does not know of any arrests or summons for interrogation made. In response to B’Tselem’s query about similar incidents, the IDF Spokesperson said they were an “operational activity to map houses”, “in accordance with official orders”, and meant to “minimize disturbance to routine life in the area”. B’Tselem then requested a copy of the orders and an explanation of the purpose of this unjustified disruption of people’s lives by the military.
More than two and a half years ago, soldiers killed sixteen-year-old Samir ‘Awad. A year and two months later, his father petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) together with B'Tselem, demanding the Military Advocate General (MAG) reach a decision whether to take action against the soldiers involved or close the case. The State Attorney’s Office continues the foot-dragging in this case, repeatedly ignoring interim court decisions.
The uproar over the rare demolition of structures in the settlement of Beit El has died down, and the Civil Administration (CA) resumed its routine work of demolishing structures in Palestinian communities. On Wednesday, 5 August 2015, CA personnel came with a military escort to demolish structures in three Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley: In al-‘Aqabah they demolished the home of a five-person family and five structures used for storage and livestock; in ‘Ein al-Meyteh they demolished three residential tents and four structures used for raising livestock; in Khirbet Yarza they demolished a livestock pen.
Israel’s administrative detention of extreme right-wing activist Mordechai Mayer and planned administrative detention of two other such activists, reportedly authorized by the Attorney General, is unacceptable. Recent calls to amend the law on this matter and use draconian measures such as administrative detention and illegal interrogation methods convey the impression that Israel’s law enforcement system indeed wishes to prevent settlers from harming Palestinians. However, past experience shows that these steps are meant primarily to create a false show of firm action in order to decrease public criticism, in this case concerning the killing of Palestinian baby ‘Ali Dawabsheh by arson in the West Bank village of Duma.
The killing of a one and a half year old infant, 'Ali Sa'ed Dawabshe, and the serious injury of his mother Riham and toddler brother 'Ahmed, after a suspected arson attack by Israeli civilians burned their home, was only a matter of time. This, due to the authorities' policy to avoid enforcing the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians and their property. This policy creates impunity for hate crimes, and encourages assailants to continue, leading to this morning's horrific result.
On Wed. (29 July) the Knesset voted in favor of a bill permitting to force-feed hunger strikers in cases deemed medically life-threatening. Designed to break the spirit and body of prisoners and administrative detainees who are protesting non-violently, the law tramples the Patients’ Rights Act and human dignity. The Israeli Medical Association said it would petition the HCJ against the law and instruct doctors not to implement it. The bill passed is an awful moral blot. The very thought of its implementation is horrifying. Support for such as bill by the majority of the coalition is a grim, yet accurate, expression of the legislators’ willingness to trample human rights.
The present struggle of Susiya’s residents is the latest chapter in a saga of decades of dispossession. These are the facts.
On 22 Jul. 2015 the HCJ okayed deportation of Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her 3 children from their E. J’alem home as punishment for an attack her husband perpetrated. The justices denied the petition filed by NGO HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual on behalf of Abu al-Jamal. Deportation would not have been possible had not successive Israeli governments, with the approval of the HCJ, created an impossible reality in Jerusalem that forced Abu al-Jamal to live as a stranger in her husband’s home, in a spot not far from her childhood home. The two homes had been a part of the same community until Israel occupied the area and split it up.
B’Tselem’s Board and staff have recently visited Kh. Susiya to meet with its residents, including our field researcher in the South Hebron Hills, Nasser Nawaj’ah. Last Friday hundreds of activists also came there to show solidarity. Now that the HCJ enabled demolition even prior to the hearing scheduled for the residents’ petition, the Civil Administration might demolish the village homes at any time, leaving residents with no shelter in harsh desert conditions. This mode of operation allows Israeli authorities to take over lands and drive out communities from Area C. Photos by Sharon Azran and Helen Yanovsky.
In Sep. 2014 Israel’s National Planning and Construction Committee appeals sub-committee said plans for the Mt. Scopus Slopes National Park could not be approved without considering the needs of the neighborhoods whose development would be curtailed by the park, and returned it to the District Committee for reconsideration. In July 2015, with a new decision still pending, the Jerusalem Municipality posted “Landscaping Orders for a Vacant Lot” – normally used for small public gardens – for the 70 hectares slated for the park, aiming to block any possible development in the neighborhoods.
In a letter sent this morning to the Civil Administration, representatives of the village of Susiya demanded that the authorities freeze all the demolitions planned over the coming days in the village. The letter was sent after it emerged that the scale of destruction the state seeks to sow in Susiya is much greater than was previously thought, and includes almost half the structures in the village. If the structures are demolished, the residents will have no way to survive in the area in conditions of extreme heat and cold. Accordingly, the action effectively constitutes the expulsion of the residents from their land.
On 21 May 2015, Yihya al-‘Amudi, 10, lost his eye after being hit by a black sponge round fired at him by an Israeli Border Police officer. This ammunition, used by the police since last year, does not cause severe injury if used according to regulations. However, ACRI has documented numerous instances in which sponge rounds were fired contrary to regulations, resulting in injuries to individuals not involved in clashes and killing one 15-year-old. Lack of accountability for wrongful firing makes the next lethal incident only a matter of time.
In response to the publication in Israeli daily Ha’aretz that Israel would be entering into a dialogue with the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague (ICC) in order to clarify the state's position, B'Tselem states: Israel’s contention that the ICC has no jurisdiction over alleged breaches of the laws of war, partly because “the Israeli judicial system is independent and can handle complaints on the matter of alleged war crimes” is incorrect. Past experience shows that the opposite is true and that Israeli authorities have demonstrated that they are incapable of investigating allegations of Israeli breaches of humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip.