Updates

On 19 March 2014 soldiers killed 14-year-old Yusef a-Shawamreh as he and two friends crossed a breach in the Separation Barrier to gather plants on his family’s land. B’Tselem found that, contrary to the IDF Spokesperson’s statement, the youths did not vandalize the barrier nor was suspect arrest procedure carried out. Security forces are well-aware that Palestinians cross at this point for harvest purposes at this season. B’Tselem calls on the military to bring to justice the commanders who ordered the highly questionable armed ambush.

March 26

In an article in the Huffington Post, B'Tselem's Executive Director uses the recent conflict around displaying a Palestinian flag in Hebron as a metaphor for the broader situation: "Hebron is an extreme version, but the contours of what we see in Hebron are visible throughout the West Bank: two separate and discriminatory legal systems in force, with settlers enjoying all the rights of the Israeli democracy and even added perks and benefits, while Palestinians are subject to military law. It is a rotten system, one that inherently violates Palestinian rights and has a corrosive effect on the Israeli democracy."

March 25

The short film “Smile, and the World Will Smile Back”, was accepted by North America's largest documentary film festival, Toronto's Hot Docs festival. Filmed by the al-Haddad family of Hebron and made in collaboration with B'Tselem's camera project was recently shown at at the Berlin International Film Festival.

March 20

On 17 March The military cancelled the family visits–permitted once every 2-3 months–to Gazans being held in Israel. In view of rocket-fire from Gaza targeting communities in southern Israel, the military announced on 12 Mar. 2014 that passage through Erez Crossing would be restricted to humanitarian cases and Kerem Shalom Crossing would be closed. This led to even greater power shortages in Gaza as Israel held up delivery of diesel to power Gaza’s electric plant. B’Tselem calls on Israel to refrain from collective punishment of Gaza residents.

March 17

In light of the recent escalation in violence on the Gaza-Israel border, B’Tselem reiterates that directing rocket and missile fire at civilians is prohibited and constitutes a war crime.Attacks aimed at civilians are immoral and illegal. The Hamas government in Gaza must take all legal measures at its disposal to stop the rocket fire. B’Tselem demands that all sides involved in the hostilities take all possible steps to protect civilians from the consequences. The laws of war obligate all sides to do all that is in their power to prevent harm to civilians.

March 13

The IDF Spokesperson announced that, following rocket fire from Gaza aimed at communities in southern Israel, Kerem Shalom Crossing would be closed and Erez Crossing limited to cases that the military defines humanitarian. Closing the crossings will also have a severe effect on electricity supply in the Gaza Strip, as tomorrow Israel is supposed to transfer 500,000 liters of diesel fuel that Gaza has purchased. It is Israel’s duty to protect its borders and residents; however, that does not justify such harsh measures against all residents of the Gaza Strip who are not involved in the hostilities.

March 13

On Saturday B’Tselem volunteer Shadi Sidr filmed a settler trying to take down a Palestinian from Sidr’s own roof. Soldiers then arrived, demanding Sidr satisfy the settler’s whim of removing the flag. B’Tselem avers that soldiers must ensure the safety of Palestinians. Soldiers must not abandon a Palestinian to fend for himself. Soldiers are obliged to safeguard Palestinians, the protected population of the West Bank. It goes without saying that soldiers must not aid and abet trespassing settlers or their whims.

March 12

In the past 14 months 5 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by soldiers in ambush. The latest fatality is Saji Darwish, killed in Beitin yesterday by a live bullet in what the military classified "an ambush to catch stone throwers”. The military did not say whether the soldiers had crowd control weapons or live ammunition only. The military must launch a criminal investigation of the incident and the directives the soldiers received, and also discontinue ambushes for unarmed stone-throwers in which soldiers carry only lethal weapons.

March 11

Despite the risks 15,000-30,000 Palestinians routinely enter Israel without work permits. B’Tselem made inquiries into four cases in which soldiers shot and wounded Palestinians trying to enter Israel. In all four cases, which occurred in Oct. and Nov. 2013, soldiers did not given any advance warning before shooting, and in some, shot at the victims’ torso. Security forces must not automatically consider civilians trying to enter Israel without permits as potential terrorists and nor can they use gunfire to apprehend these individuals.

March 9

In honor of this year’s International Women’s Day, we launched a special project to highlight women’s perspective on the fight to counteract human right violations in the West Bank and Gaza. The project is part of an endeavor to show the unique way in which Palestinian women experience violations of their rights. We invite you to join us and meet the women at B’Tselem.

March 8

The recently published report So Near and Yet So Far by HaMoked and B’Tselem presents Israel's policy of isolating the Gaza Strip. The policy results in a forced separation between families. Women are torn between their life with their husband and children and their longing to see the family into which they were born, whom they are rarely allowed to meet. In a unique project, B’Tselem entrusted five women illustrators with the testimonies of five women. The project was completed as International Women’s Day (8 March) approaches.

March 6

B’Tselem recorded 5 fatalities and 55 injuries recently, all of Palestinian uninvolved in hostilities near the Gaza perimeter fence. Although the military refuses to publish the relevant open-fire regulations, statements by officials indicate the possibility that lethal fire might be permitted even in cases of civilians who pose no danger. As Gazans use the area near the fence for various civilian needs, it cannot be regarded exclusively as a combat zone. The military must institute open-fire regulations that take this reality into account.

March 4

On Fridays in recent months, youths have been frequenting an area east of Jabalya RC, a rare open space in the congested Gaza Strip. Some stroll or rest. Others come to demonstrate, burn tires or throw stones at the perimeter fence. Several times Molotov cocktails were lobbed at the fence and its patrol. Soldiers positioned on the Israeli side of the perimeter fence use various measures – from tear-gas to live ammunition – to get the youths to back away from the fence. B'Tselem field researcher Muhammad Sabah documented the scene.

March 4

In an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, B'Tselem's Director draws a link between the diplomatic negotiations regarding the future of the Jordan Valley and the alarming increase in Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes: " This is not only a political and diplomatic issue. It is also a legal and humanitarian issue… The theoretical debate about the future of the Jordan Valley has a tangible effect on the ground, with families spending the winter without shelter."

March 3

Orit Arif's comic strip was inspired by the testimony of Maisoun Haj ‘Ali, who lives in Gaza with her four children, while her husband works in the West Bank. The testimony was included in the report "So Near and Yet So Far", which describes Israel's isolationist policy towards the Gaza Strip. B'Tselem entrusted five women illustrators with the stories of five women who appear in the report. This is the fifth and last graphic interpretation in the series.

March 3

Julia Lind's comic strip was inspired by the testimony of ‘Abir Sharaf, a social worker from Nablus. The testimony was included in the report "So Near and Yet So Far", which describes Israel's isolationist policy towards the Gaza Strip. B'Tselem entrusted five testimonies with five female Illustrators, whose interpretations will be presented here in the coming weeks.

February 25

On 30 Jan. 2014 Israeli authorities demolished all the structures of Kh. Um al-Jamal, a small shepherding community in the northern Jordan Valley, citing allegedly unlawful construction. International law allows expelling residents of an occupied territory from their homes only for urgent military needs or for the purpose of protecting the local population. The expulsion must be temporary and reasonable alternative accommodation must be provided. Israel must allow the residents rebuild their homes and remain on the land the military wants them to leave.

February 20

“No child should have to be afraid to drink a glass of water lest there be none tomorrow. These are my difficulties. These are my children’s fears.” Thus B’Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj'ah concluded his open letter in Haaretz to Minister Naftaly Bennett. The inequity of water supplied to Israelis versus Palestinians came up for discussion in Knesset last week. Consequntly, we posted precise figures regarding water consumption in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We invite you to take a look at the situation yourself.

February 19

A Civil Administration bulldozer arrived once more at Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah in the central Jordan Valley this morning. It began demolishing the tents put up by the residents since the latest demolition of 13 January 2014. A soldier escort to the bulldozer slashed the tent fabric so that the tents could not be re-erected. The bulldozer did not manage to demolish all the tents as some of them were placed on a hillside. The residents were informed by Civil Administration officials that they would soon return with a larger bulldozer to complete demolitions. Later, the military detained a vehicle belonging to one of the residents, near the Masua junction.

February 12