Israel’s administrative detention of extreme right-wing activist Mordechai Mayer and planned administrative detention of two other such activists, reportedly authorized by the Attorney General, is unacceptable. Recent calls to amend the law on this matter and use draconian measures such as administrative detention and illegal interrogation methods convey the impression that Israel’s law enforcement system indeed wishes to prevent settlers from harming Palestinians. However, past experience shows that these steps are meant primarily to create a false show of firm action in order to decrease public criticism, in this case concerning the killing of Palestinian baby ‘Ali Dawabsheh by arson in the West Bank village of Duma.
The killing of a one and a half year old infant, 'Ali Sa'ed Dawabshe, and the serious injury of his mother Riham and toddler brother 'Ahmed, after a suspected arson attack by Israeli civilians burned their home, was only a matter of time. This, due to the authorities' policy to avoid enforcing the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians and their property. This policy creates impunity for hate crimes, and encourages assailants to continue, leading to this morning's horrific result.
On Wed. (29 July) the Knesset voted in favor of a bill permitting to force-feed hunger strikers in cases deemed medically life-threatening. Designed to break the spirit and body of prisoners and administrative detainees who are protesting non-violently, the law tramples the Patients’ Rights Act and human dignity. The Israeli Medical Association said it would petition the HCJ against the law and instruct doctors not to implement it. The bill passed is an awful moral blot. The very thought of its implementation is horrifying. Support for such as bill by the majority of the coalition is a grim, yet accurate, expression of the legislators’ willingness to trample human rights.
The present struggle of Susiya’s residents is the latest chapter in a saga of decades of dispossession. These are the facts.
On 22 Jul. 2015 the HCJ okayed deportation of Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her 3 children from their E. J’alem home as punishment for an attack her husband perpetrated. The justices denied the petition filed by NGO HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual on behalf of Abu al-Jamal. Deportation would not have been possible had not successive Israeli governments, with the approval of the HCJ, created an impossible reality in Jerusalem that forced Abu al-Jamal to live as a stranger in her husband’s home, in a spot not far from her childhood home. The two homes had been a part of the same community until Israel occupied the area and split it up.
B’Tselem’s Board and staff have recently visited Kh. Susiya to meet with its residents, including our field researcher in the South Hebron Hills, Nasser Nawaj’ah. Last Friday hundreds of activists also came there to show solidarity. Now that the HCJ enabled demolition even prior to the hearing scheduled for the residents’ petition, the Civil Administration might demolish the village homes at any time, leaving residents with no shelter in harsh desert conditions. This mode of operation allows Israeli authorities to take over lands and drive out communities from Area C. Photos by Sharon Azran and Helen Yanovsky.
In Sep. 2014 Israel’s National Planning and Construction Committee appeals sub-committee said plans for the Mt. Scopus Slopes National Park could not be approved without considering the needs of the neighborhoods whose development would be curtailed by the park, and returned it to the District Committee for reconsideration. In July 2015, with a new decision still pending, the Jerusalem Municipality posted “Landscaping Orders for a Vacant Lot” – normally used for small public gardens – for the 70 hectares slated for the park, aiming to block any possible development in the neighborhoods.
In a letter sent this morning to the Civil Administration, representatives of the village of Susiya demanded that the authorities freeze all the demolitions planned over the coming days in the village. The letter was sent after it emerged that the scale of destruction the state seeks to sow in Susiya is much greater than was previously thought, and includes almost half the structures in the village. If the structures are demolished, the residents will have no way to survive in the area in conditions of extreme heat and cold. Accordingly, the action effectively constitutes the expulsion of the residents from their land.
On 21 May 2015, Yihya al-‘Amudi, 10, lost his eye after being hit by a black sponge round fired at him by an Israeli Border Police officer. This ammunition, used by the police since last year, does not cause severe injury if used according to regulations. However, ACRI has documented numerous instances in which sponge rounds were fired contrary to regulations, resulting in injuries to individuals not involved in clashes and killing one 15-year-old. Lack of accountability for wrongful firing makes the next lethal incident only a matter of time.
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.
On Sunday (July 12th) the residents of the village of Khirbet Susiya met with high-ranking officials from COGAT, the Civil Administration, and the military. The meeting was called by the Israeli authorities, and around fifty village residents attended. The officials stated that pressure by the settler organization "Regavim" and area settlers has led to a decision to carry out demolitions in the village even before the high court hearing into the residents' petition, scheduled for 3 August.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.