Updates

Separation Barrier

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.

April 30

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.

April 2

Ahmad ‘Awad, whose son Samir was killed by soldiers near the Separation Barrier in Budrus, petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice together with B’Tselem to oblige the MAG to decide whether to prosecute the soldiers who killed his son. The petitioners said that every day that goes by without a decision reduces the chance that effective criminal procedures be taken, in an ever-increasing infringement of the petitioners ’ rights and with growing harm to the rule of law and public interest in bringing offenders to justice.

March 30

On 19 March 2014 soldiers killed 14-year-old Yusef a-Shawamreh as he and two friends crossed a breach in the Separation Barrier to gather plants on his family’s land. B’Tselem found that, contrary to the IDF Spokesperson’s statement, the youths did not vandalize the barrier nor was suspect arrest procedure carried out. Security forces are well-aware that Palestinians cross at this point for harvest purposes at this season. B’Tselem calls on the military to bring to justice the commanders who ordered the highly questionable armed ambush.

March 26

Despite the risks 15,000-30,000 Palestinians routinely enter Israel without work permits. B’Tselem made inquiries into four cases in which soldiers shot and wounded Palestinians trying to enter Israel. In all four cases, which occurred in Oct. and Nov. 2013, soldiers did not given any advance warning before shooting, and in some, shot at the victims’ torso. Security forces must not automatically consider civilians trying to enter Israel without permits as potential terrorists and nor can they use gunfire to apprehend these individuals.

March 9

The Guardian’s recently introduced interactive site “Walled World” presents walls around the world through images, first-hand accounts and videos. It shows the effect that walls have on the people around them, whether they are being left out or locked in. One section of Walled World deals with the Separation Barrier in the West Bank. It includes three videos by B’Tselem, some produced specifically for this project.

November 25

4 and 1/2 years after Bassem Abu Rahmeh, 30, was killed when struck in the chest by a tear-gas grenade fired directly at him from close range, the state announced it is closing the case for lack of evidence. The announcement was made further to a High Court petition by Bassem’s mother, demanding an investigation into the killing of her son in April 2009 during a demonstration against the Separation Barrier in Bil’in. Three video segments prove that Abu Rahmeh was east of the barrier, did not act violently, and did not endanger the soldiers.

September 10

On 19 Aug. 2013, Israeli authorities demolished all the homes of the Bedouin community of Tal ‘Adasa, north of Jerusalem, and gave them ten days to leave the spot. The community is being forced to relocate elsewhere in the West Bank, outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, although they have lived in the area since the 1950s, albeit never registering as East Jerusalem residents. As no housing alternative has been found for the entire community, its 40-odd members and their flocks will have to split up for the near future.

August 26

On 19 Aug. 2013, the Ministry of the Interior demolished all the homes of the Tal ‘Adasa Bedouin community, located near Beit Hanina, after pressuring its members to leave the area since 2005. Although the community’s dozens of members have lived within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem since the 1950s, they are not registered as residents of East Jerusalem. Since the Separation Barrier was built there in 2006, they have been trapped in a narrow enclave under Jerusalem Municipality jurisdiction, isolated from the rest of the West Bank. B’Tselem calls on the government of Israel to acknowledge the rights of the community, which has no other place to live, having lived in the area for decades. The authorities must find a solution to the problem that is acceptable to the community members. Demolishing their homes and expelling them constitutes a violation of international law and will leave them homeless and without a source of livelihood.

August 19

The planned route of the Separation Barrier around the village of al-Walajah will sever the Hajajleh family from the rest of the village. In 2010, the Civil Administration informed the family that their home would remain on the other side of the barrier, that it would be enclosed by a wire fence and linked to the rest of the village through an underground passageway. After the Hajajlehs petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice, the State agreed, in lieu of surrounding the house with a wire fence, to close the underground passageway with a gate that only members of the family would be allowed to cross without prior coordination. Once the Separation Barrier around al-Walajah is completed, the Hajajleh home will be isolated and the family will be denied the possibility of normal daily life.

June 24

B’Tselem has written to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria demanding that he prohibit the use of attack dogs against Palestinian civilians. The letter follows a recent incident in which two Palestinians trying to enter Israel for work were attacked. B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell wrote that “setting dogs on civilians under such circumstances is inherently wrong and immoral. This use of dogs is dangerous in that they cannot be kept fully under control. It intimidates the population at large and has already caused severe harm to civilians.”

June 18

The media have reported that on 18 March 2013 an Israeli soldier was convicted of negligent homicide in the death of ‘Udai Darawish. On 12 Jan. 2013 the soldier shot Darawish after the latter crossed into Israel from the West Bank through a gap in the Separation Barrier. Darawish was on his way to work in Israel but had no entry permit. The prosecution reportedly intended to charge the soldier with homicide, but the charge was reduced through a plea bargain. The soldier’s sentence is yet to be given. Indictments of soldiers involved in killing Palestinians are extremely rare. B’Tselem knows of only 15 indictments in such cases since the outbreak of the second Intifada.

April 9

On 15 January 2013, Samir ‘Awad, 16, was killed by live ammunition fired by Israeli soldiers near the Separation Barrier at Budrus. A B’Tselem inquiry reveals that the soldiers were not in danger at any time. Nevertheless, and in total contravention of open-fire regulations, they shot ‘Awad three times. The Military Advocate General (MAG) Corps announced that same day that it ordered an investigation to be opened. B’Tselem conveyed to the Military Police Investigations Unit all the information it collected on the incident, and is awaiting the conclusion of the investigation.

February 21

In January 2013, Israeli soldiers fatally shot four Palestinians in the West Bank and at least one in the Gaza Strip. According to B’Tselem’s preliminary inquiries into the five cases in which the Israeli military has accepted responsibility for the firing, the people killed were unarmed and posed no danger to the soldiers.
B’Tselem is monitoring the MPIU investigations and would emphasize that, in addition to investigating the circumstances of each incident, the investigators must also examine the written and oral directives conveyed to the soldiers involved.

January 30

The short film tells the story of the town through two wedding halls that operated there until the construction of the barrier. The film includes rare archival footage of the wedding halls' glory days, before their owners were forced to abandon them when business plummeted.

November 8

We've prepared an interactive version to make the key messages of the report accessible to a wider audience. An interactive map presents four case studies; a short video puts a human face to the barrier's impact in one of these places, the town of Bir Nabala; and an animated short gives a lighthearted treatment to a serious subject: the devastating impact of the permit regime for farmers with land across the barrier.

November 5

A decade after construction began on the Separation Barrier, the harm to adjacent Palestinian communities is clear. With some two-thirds of the barrier completed, it has crippled agriculture along its route. By isolating communities from each other and from their land, the barrier has eroded their ability to survive and prevents any sustainable development. This reality violates the state's commitment to the High Court that the barrier would not seriously harm these communities.

October 29

In light of the intention to upgrade the Ariel academic center to a university, B'Tselem provides some examples of the way this settlement harms human rights: Located in the center of the West Bank, Ariel was built on land that served the residents of nearby Palestinian villages. Ariel's wastewater pollutes the water sources of the nearby Palestinian town Salfit. To allow Israeli settlers a smooth commute between Ariel and Israel, Palestinian villages in the region were cut off from their regional capital.

July 17

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.

February 21

This week, almost four years after the Israeli High Court order on the matter, the army took down a part of the Separation Barrier built on Bil'in village land in the West Bank. The Barrier's new route returns 745 dunams of land taken from the village, but some 1,300 dunams remain west of it. Israel continues to repress the villagers' protest against the theft of their land.

June 30