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
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.