According to a new report that B'Tselem published today (14 Sept. '10), the Israeli army's policy not to investigate the killing of Palestinian civilians exempts soldiers from accountability, even when criminal offenses are suspected. Even in the few cases in which investigations are opened, routine procrastination by the Judge Advocate Generals' Office leads to closing of the files.
Today (15 July '10), Lt. Col. Omri Borberg, former commander of armored battalion 71, was convicted of attempted threats, and Staff Sergeant Leonardo Corea of unlawful use of firearms. Both were also convicted of conduct unbecoming. The charges carry a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment and a criminal record.
Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed in April 2009 from a tear gas canister fired at him during a demonstration against the Separation Barrier. The JAG persistently refused to open an investigation into the incident, and did so only after B'Tselem and Att. Michael Sfard submitted an expert opinion that the open-fire regulations had been violated.
Bassem Abu Rahma in a demonstration in Bil'in. Photo: Oren Ziv, activestills.org, 25 July 2008.
Riyeh Abu Hajaj (64) and her daughter, Majda Abu Hajaj (37), were killed in Operation Cast Lead after leaving their home on army orders, waving white flags. Following the event, first reported by B'Tselem, the media now report that the soldier who fired is to be summoned to a hearing, prior to an indictment.
B'Tselem is today (Monday, 14 June) publishing its annual report on human rights in the Occupied Territories, covering the 16-month period from January 2009 to April 2010. The report surveys the events since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead. One and a half years after the operation, the allegations regarding breaches of international humanitarian law by Israel and Hamas have yet to be properly investigated.
B'Tselem demands that Israel immediately open an independent, non-military investigation into the circumstances of the military takeover of the ships, during which dozens of activists were killed or injured.
The army has classified the area along Gaza's border with Israel a no-go zone, where anybody entering may be shot. This policy endangers the many farmers who work land there and harms the livelihood of tens of thousands of persons. It has already resulted in the killing and injury of persons who entered the zone, although they endangered nobody.
Following Yesh Din and B'Tselem's complaint, an indictment for negligent manslaughter was filed on 25 May ‘10 against the border police officer who shot 10 year old Ahmed Musa in the West Bank village of Ni'lin in July 2008.
A Palestinian youth, Ahmad Sliman Salem Dib, 19, died on 28 April after Israeli security forces shot him near the border fence with the Gaza Strip, while he was participating in a demonstration against Israel’s prohibition on Palestinians entering broad areas near the fence.
The details exposed in Blau's article raise the suspicion that soldiers were given unlawful orders to kill suspects even in non-life-threatening situations and when arrest was possible. However, none of those involved have been questioned and the senior officers who gave the orders remain in their positions.
Following the removal of the gag order imposed in Israel on the publication of details about the charges against Israeli Journalist Anat Kamm, B'Tselem wishes to reiterate that the case hinges on documents that raise grave suspicions that the Israeli military conducted assassination operations in the West Bank, under the guise of arrest operations. This, in contrast to official Israeli statements, and in violation of an Israeli High Court ruling.
On 20 March '10, soldiers killed two youths in 'Iraq Burin. Demonstrations had taken place in the village that day. B'Tselem's findings contradict the army's statement that the soldiers had shot only "rubber" bullets. In a rare step, the Military Police will investigate the incident
On 10 February 2010, soldiers shot Muhammad Subuh, 17, near the Gaza-Israel border, wounding him. Testimonies given to B'Tselem indicate that, while Subuh was gathering firewood, soldiers opened fire without warning and while their lives were not in danger. The shooting is consistent with previous reports of the existence of "death zones" that the army has established adjacent to the border.
On 12 Feb. '10, an altercation took place in Hebron between soldiers and Faiz Faraj, a local. When Faraj walked away, the soldiers shot and wounded him. B'Tselem's investigation raises the suspicion that they then shot him again, although he no longer posed a threat to their lives, and delayed his evacuation.
B'Tselem has written urgently to the judge advocate general demanding that he immediately order a Military Police investigation into the circumstances of the firing of phosphorus shells at the UNWRA compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. This is a particularly severe incident, and disciplinary hearings are clearly not an adequate punitive measure.
According to testimonies given to B'Tselem, on 1 Jan. '10, a soldier fired a rubber-coated metal bullet at the head of 10-year-old Mu'ataz al-Hawaja from Ni'lin, while chasing him during a demonstration against the Separation Barrier. B'Tselem demanded a criminal investigation of the incident.
Human rights organizations in Israel reissued their call to the Government of Israel to establish, without delay, an independent and impartial investigation mechanism to thoroughly examine the allegations raised regarding violations of international law during Operation Cast Lead.
On 26 Dec. '09, soldiers killed three Palestinians who were suspected of killing Rabbi Meir Chai on 24 Dec. B'Tselem’s investigation raises grave suspicion that no attempt was made to arrest at least two of the suspects before they were shot.