Use of firearms

On 1 January 2012, MAGS Corps informed B'Tselem that the investigation into the injury of the protester Eran Cohen was closed with no legal proceedings being initiated against the officer who shot him with a rubber coated metal bullet. Cohen, an Israeli citizen, was shot during a demonstration in Bil’in on 15 March 2008. Video footage of the incident shows clearly that the protester did not endanger the soldiers, and that the officer was only several meters from Cohen when he opened fire, in violation of the army's orders.

Video still
February 21

After the operation B'Tselem wrote to the MAG Corps demanding investigations of the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) into 20 incidents that had taken place during the operation. In each of the incidents, B'Tselem's field research raised serious suspicions that military actions had harmed unarmed, uninvolved civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law. View list of cases and investigations status

Removal of the bodies at the end of Operation Cast Lead from the ruins of the house where soldiers had gathered the a-Samuni family. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 18 Jan. '09.
February 1

Firas Qasqas, an unarmed Palestinian civilian, was killed on 2 February 2007 by soldiers' gunfire, in a-Tira neighborhood in Ramallah. On 18 August 2011, in response to a petition filed by B'Tselem, the State Attorney's Office informed the High Court of Justice that the officer responsible for the shooting would be prosecuted, pending a hearing. In mid-January 2012, the State informed the Court that, following the hearing given the officer, no indictment would be filed against him.

The late Firas Qasqas with his wife, Majedah, and one of their daughters.
January 25

On 5 Jan. '12, B'Tselem wrote to the military advocate general demanding an investigation into the firing of .22-caliber bullets that hit a young Palestinian man who was throwing stones at soldiers during the weekly demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, on 23 December 2011. B'Tselem also requested that the MAG clarify to senior commanders, to forces in the field, and to the Judea and Samaria Division’s spokesperson that using these bullets is tantamount to firing live ammunition, and is, therefore, forbidden as a crowd-control measure.

Video footage documenting the injury of a Palestinian demonstrator, who throw stones, by a 0.22 caliber bullet fired by soldiers in the village of a-Nabi Saleh on 23 Dec. 2011.
January 23

Three years after Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military's argument against independent investigation of its conduct during the operation has proven to be hollow. The military has completely failed to investigate itself, regarding both policy choices and the conduct of the forces in the field in particular cases.

Operation Cast Lead: White phosphorus shelling of UNRWA school in Beit Lahiya, 17 Jan. ‘09. Two children were killed and their mother was severely injured in the attack. Photo: Muhammad al-Baba
January 18

In two incidents in December 2011, the Israeli air force bombed ammunition storages in the middle of a civilian area in Gaza. Secondary explosions caused nearby homes to collapse. In the first bombing, two civilians were killed, one of them a 10-year-old, and an 8-year-old was severely injured. In the second, an 11-year-old was severely injured. Hamas breached international law by storing the weapons in a civilian area. Israel failed to take all feasible means to minimize harm to civilians, and did not warn civilians to evacuate the area.

The a-Za'lan home struck by the bombing in Gaza. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 9 Dec. '11.
January 5

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.

Mustafa Tamimi, immediately after he was shot. Photo: Haim Scwarczenberg, 9 Dec. '11.
December 11

B'Tselem documented three cases in which the air force killed civilians and damaged civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in the past ten days. B'Tselem demanded a criminal investigation in one case and further details in the other cases.

Wastewater-treatment facility north of the a-Nuseirat refugee camp bombed by the Israeli air force. Photo: Khaled 'Azayzeh, B'Tselem
August 31

Almost four years ago, soldiers in a reserve unit killed Firas Qasqas, a civilian who was on a hike with his relatives. On 18 Aug. '11, the State Attorney's Office announced it would prosecute an officer in the case, subject to his being heard. The statement came in response to a petition B'Tselem filed demanding that the JAG’s Office make a decision in the case.

The late Firas Qasqas with his wife, Majedah, and one of their daughters. Photo courtesy of the family.
August 24

B'Tselem responds to an op-ed published by Richard Goldstone regarding the Goldstone Report into Operation Cast Lead. While Goldstone retracts the allegation that Israel intentionally targeted civilians, grave questions remain regarding others aspects of Israel's conduct.

Removal of bodies from the Samuni family compound, a-Zeitun, Gaza City. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 18 Jan. 2009
April 12

On 4 April, B'Tselem testified before the Turkel Commission, calling for appointment of an independent and effective apparatus to investigate suspected breaches of the laws of war by Israeli security forces, that will operate in circumstances not suited to Military Police investigations. 

April 11

B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) welcome the Israeli military's announced change of the policy of investigations, made today (6 April) in an updated statement to the High Court of Justice in a petition filed by the two organizations. At the same time, the organizations stress that the change of policy as presented by the Judge Advocate General (JAG) is insufficient to uphold Israel's obligations regarding accountability and the protection of the right to life.

April 6

In an opinion piece, Jessica Montell concludes that "It is vital that we move beyond the slogans and soundbites around Goldstone. Instead, we must honestly discuss how to ensure genuine accountability for past wrongs, full respect for international humanitarian law and protection for civilians in any future military operations." 

April 5

On 22 March '11, Israeli mortar fire killed four Palestinian civilians east of Gaza City. Despite promises following Operation Cast Lead, it seems the military has not made the changes necessary to prevent harm to civilians from this imprecise weapon.

March 23

In light of the recent escalation in violence around the Gaza Strip, and the wounding of civilians in southern Israel and in Gaza by mortar and artillery fire, B'Tselem repeats its demand that all parties to the conflict take all feasible measures to protect civilians from harm.

March 20

On 2 Dec. '07, soldiers shot Firas Qasqas to death. He was unarmed and posed no threat. For more than a year and a half, the JAG's Office has delayed the decision whether to prosecute the soldiers or close the file.

February 7

In response to today's (27 Jan. '11) sentencing in the Ni'lin affair, B'Tselem reiterates that military justice system's choice to ignore much more severe cases is what enabled this incident to take place, and expressed hope that the army will internalize the court's severe criticism of the incident.

January 27

B'Tselem again calls on Israel to conduct an independent and effective investigation into the serious suspicions of violations of human rights and of international law it committed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Willingness to examine the policy that guided the forces, and not only isolated incidents, is vital for the morality of Israeli society.

Operation Cast Lead: Removal of bodies from the house of Wa'el a-Samuni, in Gaza City. Photo: B'Tselem, 18 Jan. '09.
January 18

Claims made by the defense in the trial relating to the shooting of the bound detainee in Ni'lin, that B'Tselem's video had been tampered with, have been disproved by the Israel Police Forensics Department.

Video footage of Ni'lin shooting, July 2008. Police Forensics confirm the video is genuine.
January 10

Over the past year, B'Tselem has documented 11 cases in which soldiers fired at and wounded Palestinian civilians close to the perimeter fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The use of live fire to remove civilians from the area is indiscriminate, causes disproportionate injury to the civilian population, and should be halted immediately.

November 3