In December, B'Tselem documented ten cases of settler violence against Palestinians or Palestinian property in the West Bank. The recent wave of violence results from a longstanding policy of lax law enforcement in cases of settler violence against Palestinians. The Israeli authorities must take action to apprehend and prosecute lawbreakers, while safeguarding the suspects' rights to due process.
On 26 November 2011, a volunteer in B'Tselem’s camera project filmed a border policeman aim a loaded weapon at the photographer’s 13-year-old son. The family related that Border policemen also harassed the boys, who were playing across from their house and beat one of them. B'Tselem demanded that the authorities conduct an immediate investigation.
Reports in the Israeli media in recent days claim that the security forces will soon be given new powers to combat settler violence. According to the reports, soldiers will be authorized to detain and arrest Israelis in the Occupied Territories. The reports are misleading. Israeli soldiers stationed in the West Bank are already authorized to detain Israeli citizens, if it is suspected that they have committed or are about to commit a criminal offense.
Following the public outrage regarding settler violence against soldiers, B'Tselem’s field researchers describe the daily settler violence Palestinians have suffered for years, which the law-enforcement authorities have met with tacit consent.
In response to media reports that the government is considering declaring extreme rightwing Israeli activists as a terrorist organization, B'Tselem states that this is an illegitimate way to deal with the phenomenon of violence by Israeli citizens in the Occupied Territories. Such violence must be dealt with through the criminal justice system. The recent violence toward the military results from of Israel's lax law-enforcement toward settlers who harm Palestinians and their property.
On 30 Nov. '11, the military court in Ofer ruled that a confession given by Ayman Hamidah during an ISA (Shabak) interrogation was inadmissible, since it had not been given willingly. In an unusual step, the court acquitted Hamidah of the charges that were based solely on the confession. In fact, the interrogation methods that Hamidah described have been used against hundreds of Palestinians, and are classified in international law as torture or maltreatment, which are absolutely prohibited.
On Friday, 9 Dec. '11, at the end of the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of a-Nabi Saleh, a soldier killed demonstrator Mustafa Tamimi by firing a tear-gas canister directly at his face. For several years, B'Tselem has been alerting officials to security forces' repeated illegal firing of tear-gas canisters directly at persons. Despite the army’s declarations that such firing is forbidden, the practice continues.
B'Tselem is seeking interns for our communication department. Candidates should be fluent in English. A working knowledge of Hebrew is a benefit. Internships include field work and study tours to of human rights issues in the West Bank. For further information please contact Zvi Shulman at: email@example.com.
Today (29 Nov. '11), the Danish PL Foundation will award B'Tselem and Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq with a joint human rights award. Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin will not attend the ceremony in Copenhagen as Israel has banned him from leaving the West Bank since 2006. In a joint statement, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B'Tselem call on Israel to lift the travel ban and enable Jabarin to leave the Occupied Territories.
Our response to the attempts to silence B'Tselem and other human rights organizations in Israel is to amplify our voice. We invite you to join our new page, in Hebrew only, and to invite as many friends as possible. Our regular page will continue operating in English. To join, click here.
Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations B'Tselem and Al-Haq were jointly awarded the annual human rights award given by the Danish PL Foundation this year. The award has been given since the 1980s to individuals and organizations who struggle non-violently for the values embodied by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The PL Foundation and the annual human rights award were established by Poul Lauritzen, a Danish businessman and member of the Danish resistance during World War II.
Jessica Montell, B'Tselem's Executive Director calls on all those who are concerned about human rights and the Israeli democracy to speak out against efforts to stifle Israeli civil society. "I have full confidence that, working together, champions of democracy both inside Israel and around the world will overcome these dangerous initiatives."
On 29 Oct. '11, Palestinian residents of Beit Ummar demonstrated on part of their land against theft of their lands. A B'Tselem volunteer documented settlers entering the security buffer strip surrounding the adjacent Carmei Tzur settlement, and throwing stones at the demonstrators. Soldiers at the scene did not try to stop the assault; instead, they removed the Palestinians by shooting tear gas and throwing stun grenades.
B'Tselem's Hebron field-researcher Musa Abu Hashhash published an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post in anticipation of a mass pilgrimage of Jews to Hebron this Saturday. If we continue to allow the extremists to use religion to divide us, our conflict will be bloody and intractable. When we focus on basic rights we can build a future based on dignity for us all.