Updates

Use of firearms

A B’Tselem inquiry shows that on the morning of 17 November 2012, an Israeli attack targeted three armed men in Rafah. Two of them were killed on the spot and a third was wounded. Shortly afterwards, while 'Awad a-Nahal, age 31, a resident of a nearby house, was trying to evacuate the injured man, a second attack killed both the armed man and the civilian trying to evacuate him.

November 20

Testimony gathered by B’Tselem reveals that in the early morning hours of Sunday, 18 November 2012, an Israeli aircraft fired at the ground near the Sa’ifan family home in the Tel a-Za’tar neighborhood. The strength of the explosion collapsed the room on top of the sleeping Sa’ifan family: mother, father, and two children. Their son Tammer, age 4, and daughter Jomanah, age 2, were killed. B’Tselem is continuing to investigate the circumstances of the incident that caused the death of Tammer and Jomanah Sa’ifan.

November 20

According to testimonies gathered by B’Tselem, on Thursday, 15 Nov. 2012, an Israeli military air strike took place in an urban area in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. B’Tselem does not know the objective of the strike. A large crater was created at the point of impact and nearby houses were extensively damaged. Two boys, a 9-year-old and a 16-year-old, who lived in two of the buildings that were damaged, were killed. They sustained fatal injuries from shrapnel as they lay asleep in their homes. The fathers of the two dead boys described the incident to B’Tselem by telephone.

November 20

"The nights are long and terrible now. I stay awake all night. How could I sleep when my children are afraid? When I am hearing the bombing? All night I try to reassure the children and protect them."

November 19

"The children’s conversation is about the types of missiles and planes. It hurts me so much to hear them talking about these things, instead of games or things they are learning in kindergarten or that they did with their friends. What kind of life do they have with this situation looming over them? We try to keep them busy and distract them from the news and what is happening, but what is happening is stronger."

November 19

"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

"A few seconds after my mother went out toward the shed, I heard a strong explosion. Smoke and dust covered the house. I started looking for her and calling her, but couldn’t find her. A few minutes later, I found her severely wounded."

November 18

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

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