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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.