The occupation is 49 years old. That’s 17,898 days. International law defines occupation as a temporary situation, but after nearly 50 years the reality in the West Bank and Gaza can no longer be considered temporary. It is unreasonable to keep hoping that Israel end this situation of its own volition. As the occupation enters its 50th year, B’Tselem presents the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The facts are well-known. Equally well-known is that standing idly by means perpetuating the current situation. Determined action is needed now to clearly demonstrate the termination of local and international cooperation with the occupation.
On 16 Dec. 2015 approval to deposit a plan for review was given for a plan to build 891 residential units south of the neighborhood of Gilo, which is on West Bank land unilaterally annexed to Jerusalem. The southward expansion lays the groundwork for annexation by creating a contiguous bloc between Gilo and the settlement of Har Gilo. The Cremisan Valley, an area under the plan that serves Palestinians as a vital source of income and for recreation, will apparently become a free public space for the residents of Gilo and Har Gilo. This belies the security justification for the barrier’s route accepted by the High Court, and exemplifies Israel’s annexationist policy.
On 30 Dec. the two soldiers who shot and killed Samir ‘Awad near the Separation Barrier in Jan. 2013 were indicted. The facts described in the indictment are very similar to those found by B’Tselem’s inquiries, clearly indicating the shooting was unjustified and an outright breach of the open-fire regulations. The disparity between the soldiers’ egregious conduct and the minor charges being brought against them beggars belief, and sends security personnel in the OPT a clear message that the system will allow them to continue to operate with impunity, even if they kill Palestinians who pose no danger and even if they breach regulations.
On 13 Nov. 2015, after a demonstration against the Separation Barrier in Budrus, several Palestinians approached the barrier. Soldiers emerged from an ambush and grabbed Lafy ‘Awad. They beat him as he tried to break free and his friends threw stones at the soldiers. He began to flee and a soldier shot him in the back, killing him. Three years ago soldiers killed Samir ‘Awad in almost identical circumstances; only recently was a decision made to try them on minor offenses. The policy of allowing armed ambushes against stone-throwers continues to take lives, permitting unjustified use of lethal force and needless death.
In Aug. 2015, Israel renewed construction work on the Separation Barrier near the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, seizing private land and uprooting ancient olive trees. This creates facts on the ground although legal proceedings are still underway. The barrier will sever residents from their farmland, which provides vital income and rare recreation, block expansion of Beit Jala, damage ties with monasteries in the Cremisan Valley that service the community, and complete the effective annexation to Israel of large tracts of last.
After lengthy foot-dragging, the HCJ ruled on 8 Nov. 2015 that the State Attorney’s Office must file indictments against the two soldiers involved in killing Samir ‘Awad, 16, by the end of 2015 – almost 3 years after his death. This follows the announcement by the State Attorney’s Office’s it would indict the two for committing a “reckless and negligent act using a firearm”. The disparity between the grave action and the minor offense is outrageous, sending a message to security forces: even if you kill an unarmed Palestinian who poses no threat, we will cover it up.
B’Tselem Executive Director El-Ad in an op-ed in +972 Magazine: Netanyahu recently proposed that Israel revoke the residency status of tens of thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem who live beyond the Separation Barrier. This appalling idea will merely continue what is already in motion: years of ‘quiet transfer’ and a decade of isolating the Palestinian neighborhoods east of the Separation Barrier
More than two and a half years ago, soldiers killed sixteen-year-old Samir ‘Awad. A year and two months later, his father petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) together with B'Tselem, demanding the Military Advocate General (MAG) reach a decision whether to take action against the soldiers involved or close the case. The State Attorney’s Office continues the foot-dragging in this case, repeatedly ignoring interim court decisions.
On 22 Jul. 2015 the HCJ okayed deportation of Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her 3 children from their E. J’alem home as punishment for an attack her husband perpetrated. The justices denied the petition filed by NGO HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual on behalf of Abu al-Jamal. Deportation would not have been possible had not successive Israeli governments, with the approval of the HCJ, created an impossible reality in Jerusalem that forced Abu al-Jamal to live as a stranger in her husband’s home, in a spot not far from her childhood home. The two homes had been a part of the same community until Israel occupied the area and split it up.
Since the Nov. 2014 attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in which Palestinians killed four worshippers and wounded seven, the authorities have threatened punitive action against the assailants’ families: demolition of the homes and deportation the wife of one of them, Nadia Abu al-Jamal. She and her children may be cut off from family and friends and denied many official services. The children would lose their state health insurance. Israel must stop punitive measures against family members who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
In March 2014, soldiers killed Yusef a-Shawamreh, 14, as he crossed the Separation Barrier to pick edible plants for his family. He was shot although he posed no danger, in broad daylight. In July 2014, the MAG Corps declared the investigation closed with no charges. Examination of the military file revealed a sloppy investigation and corroborated B’Tselem’s suspicion of unlawful conduct in the incident. The MAG Corps effectively sanctioned this conduct by accepting a flawed investigation and releasing the commanders from accountability.
The villages of a-Sheikh Sa’ed and a-Sawahrah a-Sharqiyah were cut off from East Jerusalem by the Separation Barrier. Formerly, they were part of a contiguous bloc with East Jerusalem, and particularly Jabal al-Mukabber and a-Sawahrah al-Gharbiyah with which they had extensive ties. The Separation Barrier has cut off residents from relatives, places of work and services. Israeli authorities have also imposed arbitrary restrictions that exacerbate the isolation. Israel must remove the barrier, which severs an urban, historical, and cultural continuum and disrupts the lives of tens of thousands of people. Until it does so, Israel must permit regular passage between these villages and East Jerusalem, enabling residents of the isolated villages lead normal lives.
On 1 May think of the workers in Israel who are the most invisible of all: the Palestinians. Give a thought to the tens of thousands who have a work permit, yet must stand for endless, humiliating hours at a crowded checkpoint, people for whom every moment of their daily routine is a struggle for survival, for whom getting safely home is not a given. Under such conditions, a struggle for fair pay, reasonable working hours and a pension is no more than a pipedream. This reality is a direct outcome of Israeli policy that prevents the development of an independent Palestinian economy that would provide employment to West Bank residents. Work in Israel – with or without a permit – is the only option available to many. Click here, to read testimonies by workers.
Today Israel’s State Attorney’s Office notified the High Court of Justice that in the case of Palestinian youth Samir ‘Awad it had decided to file an indictment for the minor offense of committing “a reckless and negligent act using a firearm”. This is a new low in Israeli authorities’ disregard for the lives of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and a clear message to the security forces in the Occupied Territories: if you kill an unarmed Palestinian who poses no threat, we will do everything to cover it up and ensure impunity. Killing a wounded, fleeing youth who posed no threat by shooting him in the back is not a “reckless and negligent act”. The disparity between the grave action and the minor offense is incomprehensible and outrageous.
On 25 March 2015 Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) reiterated its ruling that by mid-April 2015 the State Attorney’s Office must announce its decision in the case of the killing of Samir ‘Awad. The HCJ made this announcement in response to the State’s request for yet another extension. B’Tselem criticizes the State’s disregard of a previous HCJ ruling and foot-dragging in the case. Samir ‘Awad, 16, was killed on 15 January 2013 by gunshots fired by soldiers near the Separation Barrier in the West Bank village of Budrus, although he posed no danger. Despite the more than two years that have passed since the incident, no decision has been made in the case.
Geneva Convention High Contracting Parties call on Israel to respect the Convention, including in East Jerusalem. Through almost 50 years of occupation, Israel has brazenly breached the Convention, while benefitting from belonging to the “club” of signatories. Israel’s excuses for its breaches have been repeatedly rejected by experts and tribunals, and now, also by the Conference. The resolution reflects the illegality of the ongoing occupation and its attendant human rights violations, the baselessness of Israel’s claims of compliance with the Convention and Israel’s ever deteriorating international status as the violations persist.
Yesterday (1 Dec. 2014) HCJ held first hearing in petition by Ahmad ‘Awad whose son Samir, 16, was shot and killed by soldiers in Budrus nearly two years ago. The petition, filed with B’Tselem, calls for a decision by the MAG on whether to indict. The Court added the Attorney General as respondent because Military Justice Law no longer applies to the since-discharged soldiers suspected in the incident. Justice Melcer: “In future, MAG Corps officials must know that […] they must complete all proceedings before the soldiers are discharged.”
In March 2014 soldiers shot and killed Yusef a-Shawamreh, 14, as he crossed the Separation Barrier to pick edible plants. Our investigation indicates that he was shot in broad daylight, with no advance warning, although he posed no danger. In July, the military declared the investigation closed, suspecting no criminal action or breach of regulation. The appalling, fatal outcome cannot be tolerated. The responsibility lies with the military’s bodies who issue commands to the troops and the judicial arm which closed the case.
Palestinian workers do not have much to celebrate this Int’l Workers’ Day. As the occupying power in the West Bank, Israel has not promoted an independent Palestinian economy, forcing tens of thousands to rely on work in Israel and in settlements. Many are not granted work permits and must work illegally in harsh conditions. Israel must enable the development of the Palestinian economy and, until such time, must issue permits to Palestinians wishing to work in Israel – based on appropriate security checks – and uphold their rights as workers.
Human rights violations in the context of occupation are not limited to violence and destruction. The daily routine of Palestinians as dictated by Israeli policies inherently results in violations of their rights. Qalandiya Checkpoint is a clear example: it separates Palestinian neighborhoods cut off from each other by the Separation Barrier. Most of the people who cross the checkpoint are residents of East Jerusalem who need to reach other parts of the city for work, school, or medical treatment .‘Amer ‘Aruri, B’Tselem’s field researcher in East Jerusalem, documented the long lines of people at Qalandiya Checkpoint on 19 March 2014.