Updates

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.

January 14

This morning, 13 Jan. Israeli soldiers and Civil Administration officers arrived at Khirbet ‘Ein Karzaliyah, took down six tents the families received from the ICRC and confiscated them, leaving the families again without shelter.This comes a week after the Civil Administration demolished all structures in the small Palestinian community in the Jordan Valley, comprised of 10 adults and 15 children.

January 13

This morning (Jan. 8) the Civil Administration demolished all structures in the Palestinian community of Khirbet ‘Ein Karzaliyah in the Jordan Valley, comprised of 10 adults and 15 minors, who have been left with no shelter for themselves or their livestock in the harsh winter weather conditions. B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell said earlier today “Israel has once again forgotten that control entails responsibility. The Jordan Valley cannot be addressed as a merely theoretical issue, discussing its future while completely disregarding the fate of its residents. At the moment, the authorities must set aside their political ambitions and consider the fate of 25 individuals, who do not know how they’ll get through the night and how their flocks, their only source of income and livelihood, will fare.”

January 8

On 6 Jan. 2014, masked settlers arrived at a construction site of a water reservoir being built with USAID funding in the village of ‘Urif,. The settlers smashed the electricity meter at site and threw stones at the home of the Safadi family and the school. The settlers were accompanied by soldiers as well as by at least one armed settler, apparently one of the settlement’s security guards. A video filmed by a local villager shows that the military, which is required to defend Palestinians in the West Bank, in served as a security entourage for the violent settlers. During the incident, the military backed the settlers in their assault on Palestinians and their property.

January 8

Three times as many people were killed in the West Bank in 2013 as were in 2012. In contrast to the situation from 2003 to 2012 when most Palestinian fatalities occurred in the Gaza Strip, in 2013 the majority of Palestinian fatalities occurred in the West Bank. B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell said, “The sharp rise in fatalities in the West Bank only serves to intensify concern about lack of accountability. Admittedly, MPIU investigations are now launched almost automatically, yet the essence of the investigative mechanism remains unchanged. It is slow and cumbersome and decisions are made only years after an incident takes place. Such a mechanism, in which practically no one is held accountable for the killing of Palestinians, does not serve as a deterrent and indicates disregard for human life.”

December 31

The 25-strong farming and shepherding community of Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah faces eviction after the HCJ accepted the State's position that the site was a military training zone and that they were not permanent residents. According to International Humanitarian Law, protected persons may be expelled only for urgent military necessity or to protect the local population. Expulsion for military training does not meet these requirements. The planned eviction is part of an ongoing policy aimed at expelling shepherd communities in the Jordan Valley and taking over the land. B'Tselem calls on the authorities to allow the residents of Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah to remain in their homes.

December 30

On Thursday, 26 December 2013, Ahmad Qattamesh was released from administrative detention after being held without trial since May 2011. Qattamesh, 61, a writer from al-Bireh, was already held in administrative detention for over four years in the 1990s. International law permits administrative detention only in highly exceptional cases; a restriction blatantly violated by Israel. B’Tselem calls on Israel to release all administrative detainees, or try them with due process if evidence exists against them.

December 29

B’Tselem documented 27 incidents in which Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians, stole olives and vandalized groves. Although the military made arrangements to protect Palestinians and their property during the olive harvest, its preparation was insufficient. In addition, it should be noted that Palestinians’ source of livelihood is harmed also by restrictions on access to groves located in or near settlements. The military must find alternative means of protecting settlements and ensure Palestinians' safe access to cultivate their lands year-round.

December 26

B’Tselem's initial inquiries indicates toddler Hala Abu Sbeikhah was killed yesterday after an Israeli tank fired three shells at her home. Hala’s aunt and two young cousins sustained injuries. Deliberate firing at a home occupied by civilians, without warning the inhabitants and ensuring they have vacated the premises, as appears to be the case in this situation, is unlawful. The military must immediately investigate the incident. Israeli military additionally closed Kerem Shalom Crossing, barring agricultural export and necessary fuel imports in a measure which constitutes collective punishment.

December 25

B’Tselem strongly condemns the killing today, 24 December, of Salah Abu Ltayef, 22, resident of the Bedouin community of Rahat,an Israeli civilian who worked as a contractor for the Construction Branch of the Ministry of Defense by Palestinian gunfire. There is absolutely no moral or legal justification for attacks that deliberately target civilians. Civilians must be kept separate from the fighting. This applies to countries, organizations and individuals.

December 24

Please take sixty seconds to watch this video, then share it with your community. Together we can bear witness and work to end human rights violations. If you haven't already done so, please consider a year-end donation to B'Tselem.

December 22

13 Nov. 2013, Burin: 11 villagers were taken from their beds and brought to the home of the high-school principal, which was converted into a makeshift interrogation center. The questioned men related that no charges were brought against them, and that the “interrogation” was meant to get them to prevent stone-throwing in the village. This severe infringement of civilians’ rights can hardly be justified. B’Tselem wrote to the relevant authorities inquiring whether the raid was part of official policy and, if so, what its legal grounds are.

December 19

The well-known public figure from Israel's pioneer generation explains why support for B'Tselem is so important: "B’Tselem does extraordinary work to protect the human rights of those living under occupation and to steer Israel to a path of justice and peace. To me, B’Tselem represents the Israeli heroism needed in this historical moment."

December 16

On 5 Dec. 2013, the MAG Corps notified B’Tselem of its decision to close the investigation into the killing of Mustafa Tamimi by a tear-gas canister fired at him in Dec. 2011. The Corps claimed that the firing was done "according to the relevant rules and regulations and did not involve any illegality." The decision, two years after the incident, conveys the military’s indifference to the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, and sends Israeli soldiers and officers the message that they will not be held accountable for killing unarmed civilians. In the meantime, this type of firing continues, and it is only a matter of time before yet another unarmed Palestinian civilian is killed in this way. B’Tselem will demand to see all the investigation material.

December 5

On 15 Nov. 2013, the weekly Kafr Qadum protest against the closure of the road connecting the village to Nablus took place. Before it started, tires were set on fire on the road, and 4 children played with them. Soldiers detained the four, ages 6 to 9, handcuffed the 3 older ones and threatened them with arrest if caught again. The soldiers released the children a few minutes later. The age of criminal responsibility In the Occupied Territories is 12. Law enforcement officials are prohibited from detaining or arresting children under this age. B'Tselem contacted the military demanding to clarify the legal requirements to soldiers operating on the ground.

December 4

On 27 Nov. B'Tselem volunteer videographer Abu Ahmad documented clashes between Palestinian youth and soldiers in Beit Ummar. An officer fired a canister that hit him in the chest, while he filmed. Abu Ahmad was bruised and required medical treatment. The firing of tear gas canisters directly at individuals is a routine practice by security forces and has already claimed the lives of two people and injured dozens. The military continues to deny the existence of the practice and avoids addressing it systematically. B'Tselem will send the footage to the Military Advocate and demand an investigation by the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) and held accountable.

December 2

The Guardian’s recently introduced interactive site “Walled World” presents walls around the world through images, first-hand accounts and videos. It shows the effect that walls have on the people around them, whether they are being left out or locked in. One section of Walled World deals with the Separation Barrier in the West Bank. It includes three videos by B’Tselem, some produced specifically for this project.

November 25

After twelve years as Executive Director, I have decided to step down. I first joined B'Tselem 18 years ago as Development Director. This was basically my first job in Israel, after immigrating from the United States. Six years later, I was appointed Executive Director, a position I have filled until today. These were very challenging years, replete with periods of severe violations of human rights in the Occupied Territories and in Israel. They were also exciting and meaningful years. It was not easy to decide to leave this organization, which is so important and central to my life. Click to read full letter

November 12

On 31 October 2013, Ahmad Tazaz’ah, 20, was killed in a market near Qabatiya, in the northern West Bank. According to B’Tselem’s inquiry, Tazaz’ah was killed by live ammunition fired by Israeli soldiers, and not in intra-Palestinian violence. According to the investigation, Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli troops returning from an arrest operation in Qabatiya. The troops stopped near the market and responded with crowd control weapons and live fire. Tazaz’ah was hit by a live round in the chest. B’Tselem’s inquiry shows the soldiers were not in any real danger, raising a grave suspicion they breached open-fire regulations. B'Tselem conveyed its findings to the MAG Corps, which announced the opening of a "limited investigation," in light of the suspicions regarding the involvement of Israeli soldiers in the incident.

November 11

On 26 October 2013, the Na’asan family of the village of al-Mughayir, Ramallah District, went to harvest their olives. Several masked settlers arrived at the grove and began attacking the family with stones. The family responded by throwing stones back. The settlers then assaulted 75-year-old Ghatib Na’asan and his nephew, Yasser Na’asan, who tried to protect him. The latter, a volunteer in B'Tselem's camera distribution project, was hit with an iron bar and broken glass. Other family members called for the Israeli security forces, who arrived while the settlers were retreating but made no attempt to apprehend or detain them until police arrived.

October 30