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.
“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.
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.
In contrast to the claims voiced yesterday by Israeli ministers and Members of Knesset, there is undeniable discrimination in water allocation with Israelis receiving much more water than Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The government of Israel is largely responsible for this discrimination due to its water policy. Firstly, minimal amounts of water are supplied to Palestinians and water from shared resources is unequally divided. Secondly, existing infrastructure with high levels of water loss is not upgraded. No infrastructure is developed for communities that are not connected to the water grid and water infrastructure projects in areas located inside the Palestinian Authority are not approved.
On 7 Dec. 2013 a soldier outside the settlement of Beit El shot and killed Wajih a-Ramahi, 15. The military claims “the only shots fired were in the air", but the autopsy found that a-Ramahi was hit by a bullet to the back. B'Tselem's inquiries indicate that a-Ramahi was one of several youths throwing stones at soldiers from a distance of about 200 meters. Although they were not facing mortal danger, the soldiers responded with live ammunition, not crowd control weapons. The MAG Corps said that a military police investigation has been launched.
On 27 Jan. 2014 Jerusalem’s Municipality demolished homes and other buildings in East Jerusalem. A B’Tselem field researcher documented these demolitions as well as one by a homeowner compelled to demolish his own home. The photos illustrate Israel’s policy of maintaining a Jewish majority in Jerusalem by significantly restricting development in Palestinian neighborhoods. Israel has also seized nearby land and built Jewish neighborhoods there. Municipal master plans for Palestinian neighborhoods are far from meeting residents’ needs.
Gaza has been suffering a severe water crisis for years, due to contamination of its main water source – the coastal aquifer – by over-pumping and lack of proper sewage treatment. Residents buy drinking water from wastewater treatment plants as over 90% of the aquifer's water is un-potable, a number expected to reach 100% by 2016. UNEP has called on Israel, the PA, Hamas and Egypt to take immediate action on the matter. Meanwhile, Israel must allow into Gaza materials and equipment needed to restore and develop its sewage treatment infrastructure.
On 20 Dec. 2013 soldiers shot and killed ‘Odeh Hamad while he and his brother Radad were collecting scraps at the Beit Hanoun garbage dump. Radad, who reported hearing no warning beforehand, ran for help. While Hamad lay injured, soldiers just across the fence offered him no medical assistance, nor did they help the paramedics locate him. He was found after a half hour-long search and died shortly after reaching hospital. B’Tselem documented similar incidents at the same site, including four in the last 18 months in which civilians were injured.
The picturesque sight of Gaza’s fishing harbor is misleading. The boats are out of commission and the docks deserted. The Israeli military restricts fishing range to a mere six nautical miles off Gaza's shore. Any fishermen who venture beyond this limited range risk being shot at, arrested, and having boats and fishing gear confiscated. In addition, lately Gaza has been experiencing a severe fuel shortage, ever since Egypt demolished tunnels on its border. This means that fishermen cannot afford the fuel necessary for running their boats, bringing the fishing industry to a standstill.
B'Tselem has written to Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria Col. Doron Ben-Barak notifying him of two recent incidents in which soldiers unlawfully detained children, some under the age of criminal responsibility, on suspicion of throwing stones. Although both incidents were relatively short, the children involved remained very frightened. Video footage of the incidents gives a glimpse into the harsh daily routine of many Palestinian minors and their parents, which will undoubtedly have long-term implications for the children.
Shulamit Aloni passed away on Friday. It is difficult to conceive of the human rights movement in Israel without her. Through decades of parliamentary and public activity, her writing and activism, Shulamit Aloni paved the road which we walk to this day. She was among the prime architects of Israeli discourse on human and civil rights. She taught us the importance of upholding the human rights of all people, be they in Israel or in the Occupied Territories. We will carry on walking in her footsteps. Our sincerest condolences to her family.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
“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.
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.