Use of firearms

Initial B'Tselem investigations indicate that between the launch of the Israeli military’s “Pillar of Defense” operation and the night of 17 Nov., 43 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip from Israeli fire. At least 13 of them were civilians, including seven children (five of them toddlers under the age of 4), and two women. Three Israelis have been killed as a result of rocket fire from Gaza by Palestinian militant organizations.

November 18

"The children are frightened and are sleeping with us at night. The bombings keep them awake and when they do fall asleep, they have nightmares and wake up in a panic. It’s hard to be shut in at home and sometimes I let them play in the yard under the awning."

November 18

Yesterday, 14.11.12, the Israeli military launched Operation Cloud of Defense in the Gaza Strip. Four years ago, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza caused unprecedented harm to the civilian population. B'Tselem calls on policymakers to implement the lessons learned from Operation Cast Lead in order to minimize harm to civilians during the current hostilities in Gaza.

Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip, 15 Nov. 2012
November 15

Following the signing of a plea bargain with a soldier charged with manslaughter during operation Cast Lead, B'Tselem demands that the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) reopen the file into the killing of Majedah and Rayah Abu Hajaj. If the military prosecution accepted the claim that there is no connection between the shooting he admitted to and the killing of the Palestinian mother and daughter, this means that the investigation into this incident was never completed. The MPIU must therefore solve the case and pursuant to the finding, hold accountable those responsible.

Rayah Abu Hajaj. Family photo.
August 12

B’Tselem recently learned of the decision by the Police Investigations Unit (PIU) to close the files on three cases dealing with complaints submitted to the unit. Acting on behalf of the complainants, B’Tselem obtained and examined copies of the case files and found investigative errors and omissions. In two of the cases, an appeal has been submitted to the State’s Attorney by Atty. Gabi Lasky on behalf of B’Tselem. The third case was passed on to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has also submitted an appeal.

Photo taken by Sliman Khader on 23 Sept. 2011, during one of the incidents for which the investigation file was closed.
June 6

On 16 May 2012, on behalf of B’Tselem, Attorney Gabi Lasky filed an appeal with the State Attorney against the decision by the Central District Attorney’s Office to close the file on the fatal shooting of Firas Qasqas by reserve-duty soldiers some four years ago. The appeal was submitted after an examination of the material from the investigation into this case revealed concrete evidence that necessitates an indictment for the negligent shooting of Qasqas, and that therefore, the decision to close the case is unreasonable and should be reversed.

Poster in memory of Firas Qasqas. Photo: Sarit Michaeli, B'Tselem, 11 Dec. 2007.
May 21

The al-Samouni case only illustrates the broader problem regarding the military’s ability to examine itself. Shirking responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the widespread devastation caused by Cast Lead demonstrates yet again the need for an Israeli investigation mechanism that is external to the army.

Ruins of Wa'el a-Samuni's house, in Gaza City. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 18 Jan. '09.
May 8

The MAG Corps informed B'Tselem today that it has closed the Military Police investigation file in the complaint into the killing of 21 members of the a-Samuni family in the Gaza Strip. The file was closed without taking any measures against those responsible. In response, Adv. Yael Stein, B'Tselem's head of research, said: it is unacceptable that no one is found responsible for an action of the army that led to the killing of 21 uninvolved civilians, inside the building they entered under soldiers' orders, even if this was not done deliberately. The way the army has exempted itself of responsibility for this event, even if only to acknowledge its severity and clarify its circumstances, is intolerable.

Removal of bodies from the house of Wa'el a-Samuni, in Gaza City. Photo: B'Tselem, 18 Jan. '09.
May 1

On the night of 27 March 2012, soldiers in civilian clothing entered Kafr Ramun near Ramallah. B’Tselem has learned that three brothers from the village, thinking they were being robbed, came outside armed with a club and two knives to defend their property and were shot by the soldiers. Uniformed soldiers who came to the scene during the incident, also shot two of the brothers, who were already wounded. One brother died of his wounds and the other two sustained injuries. B’Tselem demanded an investigation into this incident and was informed Today, 24 April 2012, that an investigation was ordered by the MAG corps

Rashad Shawakhah, who died of his wounds, in a family photo with his wife taghrid and their daughter.
April 24

On Friday, 9 March 2012, B’Tselem documented two serious incidents of tear gas canisters fired directly at demonstrators in two West Bank locations. Despite ample documentation that tear gas canisters are aimed and launched directly at people, the authorities continue to deny it.

Video stills
April 22

B’Tselem wrote to the Military Police and the Military Advocate General Corps requesting they launch a Military Police Investigation into the death of a Palestinian demonstrator and the wounding of dozens of others when live ammunition was used against protesters during a Land Day demonstration in the Gaza Strip on Friday, 30 March 2012.

Erez crossing, Gaza Strip, Anne Paq, activestills.org, 14 February 2012
April 5

In light of the recent escalation in violence around the Gaza Strip, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem has repeated its demand that all parties to the conflict take all feasible measures to protect civilians from the impact of the fighting.

Israeli civilians hiding in a makeshift shelter during a missile alarm, Nitzan. Photo: Baz Ratner, Reuters, 11 March 2012
March 12

To mark International Women’s Day, B'Tselem is issuing a collection of videos filmed by women who volunteer in its camera project. The images provide the viewer with a unique look into these women's daily lives. The women in the project live in a reality in which human rights violations are a daily occurrence. It is a reality most of us prefer not to see, yet the documentation is crucial and also transformative. The women photographers say that the cameras have changed their lives. They provide a tool for personal, social, and popular expression and they make these women effective human rights advocates in a traditional society in which the men usually take center stage.

Salam Kan’an, a volunteer in B'Tselem's camera distribution project. Photo: Tom Pilston, Christian Aid
March 7

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