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.
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday, 16 June 2015, ten families numbering 69 members, 43 of them minors, from Khirbet Humsah were forced to leave their homes for seven hours to make way for military training in the area. When military forces arrived at the community in the morning, they told the ten evacuated families and five additional families that they would be required to leave their homes again on 22 and 25 June 2015 from 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The families vacated their homes for seven hours last week, and in May, families from the community were evacuated seven times due to military drills. Over the past two years, residents of Khirbet Humsah were displaced more than forty times for military drills. The repeated displacement of community members in favor of military drills causes an ongoing disruption to their lives.
In March 2014, soldiers killed Yusef a-Shawamreh, 14, as he crossed the Separation Barrier to pick edible plants for his family. He was shot although he posed no danger, in broad daylight. In July 2014, the MAG Corps declared the investigation closed with no charges. Examination of the military file revealed a sloppy investigation and corroborated B’Tselem’s suspicion of unlawful conduct in the incident. The MAG Corps effectively sanctioned this conduct by accepting a flawed investigation and releasing the commanders from accountability.
Yesterday, 10 June, the military again evacuated Palestinian residents of Khirbet Humsah from their homes for 7 hours so soldiers could train on their land. The residents returned to find their farmland burnt and unexploded ammunition nearby. They are to be evacuated again on 16 June. The military also served three other communities in the area, similarly evacuated last month, with evacuation orders for 11 and 17 June. Israel must immediately stop this and other actions taken as part of the policy to expel Palestinians from the Jordan Valley.
On 4 June 2015, Civil Administration officials demolished five tents and several livestock pens in the Palestinian shepherding community of al-Mukasar in the northern Jordan Valley. Aid organizations provided the families who were left homeless with new tents. This latest act is part of a longstanding Israeli policy to displace thousands of Palestinians who live in dozens of small communities throughout Area C, to enable de facto annexation of this part of the West Bank to Israel.
On 7 April 2015, during the Passover holidays, hundreds of settlers accompanied by Israeli security forces came to Birkat al-Karmil, a natural pool recently renovated by the Yatta Municipality as part of a new park in Area A. The troops instructed Palestinian bathers to leave the pool and the center of the park, clearing it for the exclusive use of the settlers. The incident illustrates the conduct of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank: catering to almost every settler whim at the expense of Palestinians. B'Tselem wrote to the IDF Spokesperson requesting a response to the incident, including a series of detailed questions. The IDF Spokesperson replied with a laconic response that offers no explanation for the authorities' conduct in the incident.
It’s been 48 years since 1967. Decades of rule over another people, of trampling its rights in all spheres of life amounts to a permanent situation, not the temporary one that is the very definition of occupation.
This “temporary” state cannot go on forever, but Israel’s government does not believe the occupation must end. We do.
Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories is nearing the half-century mark, and Israel’s new right-wing government offers little hope of ending it. Nevertheless, the new government promises something else of value: clarity. And with that clarity, the opportunity to challenge the prolonged lie of the occupation’s “temporary” status. For if the occupation has become permanent in all but its name, what about the voting rights of Palestinians?
The High Court of Justice is enabling the Civil Administration to demolish the village of Khirbet Susyiya, in effect ejecting the residents from their land, even as their petition appealing the rejection of their master plan for the village is still pending. At any moment, the Civil Administration might now demolish the village homes, leaving the residents with no shelter in harsh desert conditions. This mode of operation by the Israeli authorities allows them to take over additional lands and drive out communities from Area C. The absence of official annexation aside, the reality of the matter is that annexation and dispossession are already here in actual fact.
In the last few days, Israeli authorities completed the reopening of the road that connects Palestinian villages Beitin and others in the northeast Ramallah District with the city of Ramallah via the DCO checkpoint. Due to existing restrictions in the DCO checkpoint, the opening allowed access to Ramallah only for the use of private vehicles and in one direction only. However, this partial improvement in the freedom of movement of Palestinian area residents was short-lived: only one day after the much-publicized reopening of the road, the military blocked it off with rocks. The grounds given were that some of the Palestinian drivers did not obey a stop sign placed on the road in order to give the right of way to Israeli settlers from Beit El. The original closure of the Beitin junction to Palestinians was in order to allow Beit El settlers exclusive use of the road on their way to route 60.
The villages of a-Sheikh Sa’ed and a-Sawahrah a-Sharqiyah were cut off from East Jerusalem by the Separation Barrier. Formerly, they were part of a contiguous bloc with East Jerusalem, and particularly Jabal al-Mukabber and a-Sawahrah al-Gharbiyah with which they had extensive ties. The Separation Barrier has cut off residents from relatives, places of work and services. Israeli authorities have also imposed arbitrary restrictions that exacerbate the isolation. Israel must remove the barrier, which severs an urban, historical, and cultural continuum and disrupts the lives of tens of thousands of people. Until it does so, Israel must permit regular passage between these villages and East Jerusalem, enabling residents of the isolated villages lead normal lives.
On Monday, 25 May 2015, the Civil Administration ordered 4 Palestinian families from Ibziq, the Jordan Valley, to evacuate their homes for the whole of the next day, as the military would be training nearby. Earlier this month, hundreds of Palestinians in the area were ordered to temporarily evacuate on short notice for the same reason. Among them were 10 families from Ibziq, including the four ordered again to evacuate on Monday. Over the last two years, Ibziq residents have been forced to evacuate their homes more than 20 times on these grounds.
In early April 2015 the Abu Haya family were subjected to repeated threats and harassment by Israeli security forces in Hebron. Among other things, soldiers detaining Maher Abu Haya (14) for alleged involvement in a stone-throwing incident near his home. After the boy denied the allegations, soldiers threatened to arrest him if he is seen once more in the vicinity of a stone-throwing incident, regardless of his involvement. For a week, soldiers came time and again to the family’s home and harassed them. The family, volunteers in B’Tselem’s camera project, filmed some of the incidents.
In April 2015 the Civil Administration ordered hundreds of Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley to leave their homes temporarily to enable military training. They suffered rough conditions and financial losses, including dead livestock and cultivated fields trampled or ruined by fire. In recent years the military has deliberately stepped up training in the Jordan Valley to harass Palestinians living in the 46% of the Jordan Valley Israel has declared “firing zones”. Israel must stop the temporary evacuation of communities for training and abandon all other steps to get Palestinians to leave the area.