Updates

The village of 'Azzun, population approximately 10,000, is located east of the city of Qalqiliya. The military routinely blocks the main entrance to the village from Road 55 for a few hours to a few days at a time in response to stone and Molotov cocktail throwing in its vicinity. According to the head of the village council in 2013 alone, the military has already blocked the road nine times. Blocking the road due to stone throwing is unlawful. It constitutes collective punishment of the village residents. This type of punishment is prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The military must counteract stone and Molotov cocktail throwing using the lawful means at its disposal.

July 18

B'Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli published an article in the Hebrew daily, Ma'ariv. The article responds to claims by Ma'ariv columnist Ben Dror Yamini that the detention of a 5 year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron was an exceptional incident.

July 17

B'Tselem responded to the report of Israel's State Comptroller, which states that Israelis living in 83 settlements in the West Bank do not pay leasing fees for land they received from the state and that the authorities do not enforce the law on illegal construction, fearing opposition by settlers. B'Tselem said the comptroller's report added another layer to the understanding that Israel's entire law enforcement system in the West Bank is enslaved to the settlement project, and that the failings detailed are a direct result of the policy of successive Israeli governments, that have avoided for decades enforcing the law on Israeli citizens who harm Palestinians and their property.

July 17

On 9 July 2013, the High Court of Justice dismissed a petition demanding that the Israeli military cease all use of white phosphorous in civilian areas. The petition, filed by Advocates Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer on behalf of 117 petitioners, including human rights organizations, was dismissed after Israel pledged to stop using white phosphorus, with the exception of two classified conditions. Despite dismissing the petition, the justices did order the military to reconsider the use of white phosphorous. The military's pledge is a step in the right direction. However, given that under international humanitarian law the use of white phosphorous in the present setting of the Gaza Strip is unlawful, and considering its horrific results, B'Tselem demands that the military prohibit all use of white phosphorous in densely populated civilian areas, such as the Gaza Strip.

July 14

On 21 June 2013, during the weekly demonstration at Kafr Qadum to protest the closing of the road that links the village to the city of Nablus, Israeli soldiers attacked a reporter and a photojournalist of the Palestinian television. The men were then detained and held in custody for two days. Part of the assault was caught on video, and the soldiers are seen beating reporter Ahmad ‘Othman as he tries to protect himself. In response to airing this footage, the IDF Spokesperson claimed that the journalists had attacked the soldiers, yet did not have any documentation to substantiate its claim. B’Tselem applied to the MAG Corps demanding an investigation of the incident.

July 14

B'Tselem has written urgently to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria, demanding his response to a grave incident in which soldiers detained a five-year-old boy in Hebron for two hours, after he threw a stone. The soldiers threatened the child and his parents, handcuffed and blindfolded the father, and handed the boy over to the Palestinian Police. Detaining a child below the age of criminal responsibility, especially one so young, has no legal justification.

July 11

Action on Armed Violence has selected B'Tselem's Executive Director Jessica Montell as one of 100 people working to make the world a safer place. The organization, dedicated to reducing armed violence around the world has compiled a list of "100 people who are outstanding examples of those trying to change the world for the better." The list includes government officials, international legal figures, academics, journalists, donors, public figures and non-for-profit. The award is recognition of B'Tselem's work over the past two decades in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

July 8

In its 2012 report, published 19 May 2013, the Freedom of Information Unit in Israel’s Ministry of Justice noted, “We found one unit, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), institutionally wanting in upholding the Freedom of Information Law – a finding that has been reinforced by court appeals and rulings.” This parallels B’Tselem’s experience, for example in its 23 December 2012 request to the Civil Administration regarding demolition orders and building permits. The Civil Administration repeatedly delayed its response, forcing B’Tselem to take legal action. Finally, after six months, on 9 June 2013, the Civil Administration provided a partial response.

July 7

The military court trial of Nariman a-Tamimi and Rana Hamadah, two Palestinian women arrested at a non-violent demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, will begin on 9 July 2013. This legal action is unprecedented, as there is no charge of violence. Moreover, the prosecution acknowledged it wishes to prevent the women from demonstrating – unacceptable grounds for arrest. B’Tselem: “The military prosecution’s handling of the matter, and particularly its unprecedented request to remand non-violent demonstrators for the duration of legal proceedings, raises the suspicion that the military might be exploiting these proceedings to keep Nariman a-Tamimi from carrying on her joint activity with her husband, Bassem, in a-Nabi Saleh’s struggle against the village being dispossessed of its land.”

July 7

Palestinians holding permits may enter Israel through any of eleven checkpoints. Last month, B’Tselem staff visited two checkpoints and documented the harsh conditions there. In order to reach work on time, laborers have to wait in line for hours, from the middle of the night, and undergo humiliating inspections. This reality is not a necessary evil but the result of a policy by the Ministry of Defense. The ministry must adjust the conditions at checkpoints to accommodate the number of Palestinians who are issued work permits by the Civil Administration, and it must ensure that the laborers can enter Israel without violation of their human dignity.

July 1

In the middle of the night of 14 May 2013, Israeli policemen surrounded the home of Khader Sharif of Beit Ula, and ordered him to come out. Sharif, who had undergone surgery for a leg broken in a work accident, had not yet fully recovered and was using crutches. Sharif reported that as the policemen forced him into a vehicle, his injured leg collided with a step and suffered a new fracture. Nevertheless, the policemen hauled him from one police station to another, all the while treating him violently and disparagingly and refusing him medical attention. Sharif was finally released around noon, once questioning showed he could not have committed the alleged theft. He was let out at Tarqumya checkpoint, having received no medical treatment in breach of police directives.

July 1

On 1 June 2013, Israeli soldiers arrived at the village of Kafr Qadum and put up posters displaying photographs of minors and a threat that the minors would be captured on sight. B’Tselem and ACRI wrote to the Legal Adviser to Judea and Samaria demanding immediate action to put an end to such posters. The organizations stated that putting up the posters severely infringes the minors’ right to privacy, dignity and due process, as well as the right to free speech and protest of all the village residents.

June 27

Prominent Israeli writers Zeruya Shalev, Eyal Megged, Sayed Kashua and Alona Kimhi visited the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank yesterday. The writers met with the Palestinian residents of the village of Jenbah, who told them about the reality of their lives and the danger they face of being expelled from the site, which the military has declared “Firing Zone 918”.

June 25

The planned route of the Separation Barrier around the village of al-Walajah will sever the Hajajleh family from the rest of the village. In 2010, the Civil Administration informed the family that their home would remain on the other side of the barrier, that it would be enclosed by a wire fence and linked to the rest of the village through an underground passageway. After the Hajajlehs petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice, the State agreed, in lieu of surrounding the house with a wire fence, to close the underground passageway with a gate that only members of the family would be allowed to cross without prior coordination. Once the Separation Barrier around al-Walajah is completed, the Hajajleh home will be isolated and the family will be denied the possibility of normal daily life.

June 24

Yesterday, 22 June 2013, Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip executed two Palestinian men sentenced to death by the military court in Gaza: ‘Imad Mahmoud Ibn Ghalyun, 49, Hussein Yusef al-Khatib, 43. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza, 15 people have been executed. B’Tselem condemns the use of capital punishment, which is both immoral and a grave violation of human rights. The state may not take a person’s life and violate that person’s right to life as a punitive measure, even if it is ostensibly for the purpose of law enforcement.

June 23

B’Tselem CCTV footage of masked settlers setting fire to a tool-shed in the village of ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, in the northern West Bank on 18 June 2013. Settlers claimed responsibility for the arson in a report published in a settler website. B’Tselem demands a Police investigation to apprehend the perpetrators, as well as a military inquiry into whether soldiers were on duty at the nearby post - located just some 200 meters from the shed - while the attack took place and, if so, why they did not apprehend the perpetrators.

June 20

According to B’Tselem’s inquiry, on 15 May 2013, two Palestinians trying to enter Israel through a breach in the Separation Barrier were attacked by dogs, allegedly on soldiers’ orders. B’Tselem applied to the MAG Corps demanding an investigation of the attack and the allegation that the soldiers had used excessive force in arresting the men. B’Tselem also wrote to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria demanding that the use of attack dogs against unarmed civilians be prohibited. No response has been received to date.

June 18

B’Tselem has written to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria demanding that he prohibit the use of attack dogs against Palestinian civilians. The letter follows a recent incident in which two Palestinians trying to enter Israel for work were attacked. B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell wrote that “setting dogs on civilians under such circumstances is inherently wrong and immoral. This use of dogs is dangerous in that they cannot be kept fully under control. It intimidates the population at large and has already caused severe harm to civilians.”

June 18

On Sunday, 26 May 2013, the military came to the home of the ‘Awads in Budrus to arrest ‘Abd a-Rahim ‘Awad. A younger son, Samir, had been killed by Israeli soldiers in January. In the course of the arrest, soldiers used force against ‘Abd a-Rahim and his family. The military stated that the family had violently resisted the arrest and that the soldiers’ response was “minimal”. To justify the soldiers’ behavior, the military released an edited video clip showing a small part of the incident. B’Tselem’s research indicates that, contrary to the military’s version, the soldiers acted violently from the very start, even before the family had a chance to resist. When ‘Abd a-Rahim’s family tried to protect him, the soldiers responded with violence and also heavily damaged the house.

June 12

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June 10