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.
Seven years ago, a military officer fired a rubber-coated metal bullet at Eran Cohen’s leg at a demonstration against the Separation Barrier in Bil’in. Three and a half years ago, the MAG decided to close the investigation. B’Tselem appealed the decision two years ago, arguing there is sufficient evidence to indict the officer. In March 2015, the MAG Corps notified B’Tselem that the investigation had been reopened to try and glean new evidence from the video footage in the case file. B’Tselem had sent in the footage shortly after the incident.
B'Tselem's findings indicate that Muhammad 'Ali-Kosba threw a stone at the windshield of Binyamin Brig. Commander Shomer, shattering it, and then fled with other teens. Col. Shomer and another soldier pursued them on foot. Shomer shot 'Ali-Kosba from a distance of some ten meters, hitting him in the face and in the back. B'Tselem's investigation indicates 'Ali-Kosba posed no mortal threat to the soldiers at the time of the shooting. Sweeping support for Shomer's action conveys this message to troops: shooting a Palestinian stone thrower is acceptable, even desirable, even if the person is fleeing and no longer a threat.
Media reports state that Khader ‘Adnan was released on 12 July 2015, in accordance with the agreement reached by his legal counsel and Israel’s military prosecution, and under which ‘Adnan also ended his hunger strike on 29 June 2015. ‘Adnan, a resident of ‘Araba in the West Bank, was striking to protest being held in administrative detention for a cumulative period of nearly six years, without any charges being brought against him.
On 25 Feb. 2015, the MAG Corps informed B’Tselem of the closing of the investigation into the killing of Palestinian teens Muhammad and Usayed Qadus in the West Bank village of ‘Iraq Burin in March 2010. The investigation had taken five years and its findings, as reported by the MAG Corps, are absurd: on the one hand, the investigation found that only rubber-coated metal bullets had been fired during the incident; on the other hand it corroborated that the two teens were killed by live ammunition, and there is no dispute that they were killed by the military. On the basis of these unreasonable findings, the MAG Corps decided to file no charges.
The bombings of the Gaza Strip began a year ago today. For hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, last summer’s nightmare has become an ongoing reality. There are now some 100,000 displaced persons in Gaza living with relatives or in rented homes, in tents, or in the ruins of their old homes. Nearly 20,000 houses were partly or completely destroyed last summer, and hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza still live in 150,000 damaged residences. After the fighting ended, B'Tselem continued to publicize the stories of Gazans who are still dealing with its consequences.
At around 11:00 P.M. on Monday 29 June 2015, Palestinians fired from a moving vehicle at four Israelis who were driving along the Elon Road, near the settlement of Shvut Rachel on their way home from a basketball game at a nearby settlement. All four passengers were injured in the drive-by shooting. Malachi Rosenfeld, 25, who lives in the settlement of Kochav Hashachar, sustained critical wounds to which he succumbed the following day, Tuesday 30 June 2015. B’Tselem expresses shock at the killing and conveys its sincerest condolences to the Rosenfeld family and its wishes for a speedy recovery to the other wounded men.
B’Tselem harshly condemns any deliberate attack on civilians.
On 1 July , the police sealed the home of ‘Udai Abu al-Jamal, one of the perpetrators of the Har Nof synagogue attack last November. His family received a demolition order two days after the attack, and a petition filed by HaMoked to stop it was rejected. Sealing a home is a draconian, vindictive measure taken against an entire family, suspected of nothing.
In 7 days throughout June, Israel temporarily displaced hundreds of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley from their homes in order to hold military maneuvers, bringing the total since the beginning of 2015 to 20 such days. The displacements disrupt the residents’ lives and cause various difficulties, including burnt farmland in some cases, as part of a deliberate effort to pressure the communities to leave the area permanently. Israel must halt this policy immediately and enable Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley to live undisturbed.
The UN report on the 2014 Gaza conflict rejects Israeli government and military officials’ view of what is permissible in combat in densely populated areas. The UN commission’s premise differs from that of these officials, seeing Gaza as the home of over 1.5 million civilians where combat took place, not as a battlefield on which civilians live. The report states that the immense harm to civilians during the fighting cannot be justified nor can IHL be interpreted so as to legalize it, even considering the modus operandi of Hamas and other armed groups. The commission also found that the responsibility for violating IHL rests with the senior political and military officials who drew up the policy and did not change it even when its lethal consequences became clear.
Media reports state that Khader ‘Adnan’s legal counsel and Israel’s military prosecution have reached an agreement whereby ‘Adnan will end his hunger strike immediately and be released from administration detention on 12 July 2015. ‘Adnan, who lives in ‘Araba in the West Bank, was striking to protest being held in administrative detention for a cumulative period of nearly six years, without any charges being brought against him.
B’Tselem has recently documented dozens of cases near Ramallah in which Israeli security forces injured Palestinians, some of them severely, with live gunfire. Most injuries are apparently the result of.22 inch bullets, whose impact is less than that of “ordinary” bullets but can still cause grave, even fatal injuries. The regular use of live fire against demonstrators in breach of regulations indicates that it is part of a policy, an unlawful policy. B’Tselem calls on security forces to stop firing live ammunition at unarmed civilians, except in extreme cases of immediate mortal danger.
On 2 June 2015 the Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers with police escort, arrived to the Abu Khaled family home in Silwan, to demolish two apartments built by the family. The family had no choice but to build without a permit since Jerusalem Municipality policy is to deny permits to residents of this and other Palestinian neighborhoods. One family member climbed to the roof to try to prevent the demolition. He was pepper-sprayed, forcibly taken off the roof, and arrested by the police. Relatives who demanded his release were also attacked with pepper-spray and physical violence. City workers demolished the two apartments.
On several nights in April and May 2015, soldiers entered the homes of 20 Palestinian families in the villages of ‘Awarta and Madama. In each home the soldiers, some of whom were masked, ordered that everyone there be awakened, including children. They wrote down the details of the family members and the house, and took photographs of the building. Military officials told the media about training in the area which included this type of activity. B’Tselem documented four separate incidents of this type, indicating that this is a policy of blatant disrespect for Palestinians’ right to live undisturbed.
Khader ‘Adnan is on the 49th day of a hunger strike to protest his lengthy administrative detention and there is now fear for his life. Israel is advancing a bill to allow force-feeding in such cases, although the international medical community agrees that this is a prohibited violation of the right to personal autonomy, dignity, and protest. B’Tselem again calls on the government to change its administrative detention policy, which defies international law, instead of drastically punishing people protesting their unlawful detention.
The UN commission of inquiry into last summer’s fighting in Gaza recommended an international criminal investigation against Israel and Hamas. This is aimed primarily at the leaders on both sides, rather than at the ground forces. Despite the horrifying and predictable results, top military and government officials in Israel ordered that the lethal policy of massive bombings in Gaza be continued. Denial and passing the buck cannot be the only response to such serious findings. A healthy society should face the criticism and thoroughly investigate the allegations of serious human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law.
A new report B’Tselem published today indicates that remand in custody is the rule rather than the exception for Palestinian defendants. Most cases, therefore, end in plea bargains. To all intents and purposes, the Israeli military court appears to be a court like any other. There are prosecutors and defense attorneys. There are rules of procedure, laws and regulations. There are judges who hand down rulings and verdicts couched in reasoned legal language. Nonetheless, this façade of propriety masks one of the most injurious apparatuses of the occupation. The rules of Israeli law, ostensibly applied to the military court, have been rendered essentially meaningless - merely serving to whitewash the flaws of the military court system.
On Friday 19 June 2015, a Palestinian shot two Israelis in their car by the ‘Ein Bubin natural spring near Ramallah, killing one and wounding the other. The man killed was 25-year-old Danny Gonen, a resident of the city of Lod, Israel. B’Tselem expresses shock at the killing and conveys its sincerest condolences to the Gonen family and its wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded man. B’Tselem harshly condemns any deliberate attack on civilians.
Yesterday, 17 June 2015, the military again displaced residents of the Palestinian communities of Khirbet al-Malih, ‘Ein al-Meyteh and al-Burj for military training near their homes. Together, the three communities are home to 29 families numbering 180 members, more than a hundred of them minors. On 8 June 2015, Civil Administration officials came to the communities and gave residents orders to evacuate their homes on 11 and 17 June between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Yesterday’s displacement was the fourth imposed on these communities this year, after they were told to leave their homes twice in May and on 11 June, for military training.
Since the Nov. 2014 attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in which Palestinians killed four worshippers and wounded seven, the authorities have threatened punitive action against the assailants’ families: demolition of the homes and deportation the wife of one of them, Nadia Abu al-Jamal. She and her children may be cut off from family and friends and denied many official services. The children would lose their state health insurance. Israel must stop punitive measures against family members who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.