Yoav Gross, Director of B’Tselem’s Video Department, visited Bab al-Majles with Mus’ab ‘Abbas, our field researcher in East Jerusalem. He took pictures of what life is like under the severe restrictions imposed on the neighborhood.
Bab al- Majles is a neighborhood in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. Once a rich cultural and social hub, a major route crossed by Muslim worshippers on their way to al-Aqsa Mosque, the neighborhood has been under a chokehold since the police put up a checkpoint at its entrance in the summer of 2014, imposing severe access restrictions, which severely harmed residents’ lives and livelihoods. This is collective punishment of the entire neighborhood. Israel must remove the checkpoints and allow residents to resume their normal lives.
Since the start of 2016, Israel has demolished three homes as collective punishment for attacks against Israeli civilians committed by family members. This left 18 persons homeless, including seven minors. Security forces have also surveyed dozens of homes slated for future demolition. Despite the extreme nature of this act and the clear position of jurists that it is illegal, the HCJ repeatedly approves the demolitions. Demolishing or sealing homes is a draconian, vindictive action targeting entire families not suspected of any offense.
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.
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
B’Tselem Executive Director El-Ad in an op-ed in Israeli daily Haaretz: The political and legal systems have been thrown into turmoil by Supreme Court Justice Vogelman scheduling an emergency hearing on demolition of the homes of the families of Palestinian perpetrators of attacks. Yet all party to this round of legal-administrative brutality can breathe easy: demolitions were sanctioned, are sanctioned, will be sanctioned by the court. Then, a family – which no one claims is guilty of any wrongdoing – will find its home reduced to a pile of rubble, or poured full of concrete.
Since 14 Oct. 2015, security forces have implemented the closure policy approved by the Israeli cabinet. Thirty-five checkpoints and concrete roadblocks have been placed at entrances to villages and neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and on internal roads, severely disrupting the lives of some 300,000 Palestinian residents. This constitutes the prohibited collective punishment of a population that lives under occupation and suffers ongoing violation of its rights. The vast majority of this population is not involved in attacks against Israelis.
The Occupation is now in its 49th year. Recent weeks have seen dozens of horrific attacks on Israelis by Palestinians. Israeli government officials have been calling explicitly to “shoot to kill”; hundreds of Palestinians have been injured and several killed in demonstrations. B’Tselem reiterates its condemnation of attacks against civilians. The government sees the current violence as an eruption of hatred that occurred in a vacuum, while rejecting any responsibility of its own for the situation. Yet recent events cannot be viewed in isolation from the ongoing oppression of 4 million people.
Authorities Oct. 6 demolition of two flats and sealing of another in East Jerusalem as collective punishment for attacks by occupant’s relatives left 13, including 7 children, homeless. Most did not live in the units slated for demolition. A policy of demolition attackers’ family homes is collective punishment - prohibited under IHL. Despite widely held legal experts’ opinion that this radical measure is unlawful, the HCJ repeatedly approves it. Demolishing or sealing a home is a draconian measure targeting entire families who have done nothing and are suspected of nothing.
Israeli PM is reportedly seeking clearance to use live fire against stone-throwers in East Jerusalem after an incident in which a Jerusalem resident was killed following suspected stone-throwing. The move would allow police to use potentially lethal Two-Two bullets. A police plan to use assault dogs and collective punishment against East Jerusalem residents was reportedly approved. The authorities must keep the peace and protect residents, but their approach unlawfully and immorally ignores deep-seated discrimination and human rights abuses in East Jerusalem, while using increasingly violent measures against residents there.
The data we released regarding the demolition that took place on 31.8.2015 at the Al-Khdeirat Bedouin community contained numerous essential errors. Following is the correct data : The Civil Administration and the military demolished 15 structures, ten of them were residential, and five were used for livestock, not twenty five, as we originally said. Click to view full data.
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.
In Sep. 2014 Israel’s National Planning and Construction Committee appeals sub-committee said plans for the Mt. Scopus Slopes National Park could not be approved without considering the needs of the neighborhoods whose development would be curtailed by the park, and returned it to the District Committee for reconsideration. In July 2015, with a new decision still pending, the Jerusalem Municipality posted “Landscaping Orders for a Vacant Lot” – normally used for small public gardens – for the 70 hectares slated for the park, aiming to block any possible development in the neighborhoods.
On 21 May 2015, Yihya al-‘Amudi, 10, lost his eye after being hit by a black sponge round fired at him by an Israeli Border Police officer. This ammunition, used by the police since last year, does not cause severe injury if used according to regulations. However, ACRI has documented numerous instances in which sponge rounds were fired contrary to regulations, resulting in injuries to individuals not involved in clashes and killing one 15-year-old. Lack of accountability for wrongful firing makes the next lethal incident only a matter of time.
On 1 July , the police sealed the home of ‘Udai Abu al-Jamal, one of the perpetrators of the Har Nof synagogue attack last November. His family received a demolition order two days after the attack, and a petition filed by HaMoked to stop it was rejected. Sealing a home is a draconian, vindictive measure taken against an entire family, suspected of nothing.
On 2 June 2015 the Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers with police escort, arrived to the Abu Khaled family home in Silwan, to demolish two apartments built by the family. The family had no choice but to build without a permit since Jerusalem Municipality policy is to deny permits to residents of this and other Palestinian neighborhoods. One family member climbed to the roof to try to prevent the demolition. He was pepper-sprayed, forcibly taken off the roof, and arrested by the police. Relatives who demanded his release were also attacked with pepper-spray and physical violence. City workers demolished the two apartments.
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.
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 13 May 2011, Milad ‘Ayash, 17, was hit by a live bullet fired at him from the Beit Yehonatan settlement in Silwan, East Jerusalem. ‘Ayash died of his wounds the next day. Both the DIP and the Israel Police investigated the shooting; both closed their case files citing “perpetrator unknown.” B'Tselem appealed to the State Attorney’s Office against the decision to close the investigations, noting grave investigative failings. The negligence with which the investigations were conducted and the closing of the files evince disregard by Israeli authorities for Palestinian lives.
According to media reports, the Israel Police notified the families of the perpetrators of the horrendous attack that it may withhold the bodies at this stage because a funeral procession and erection of a headstone "may glorify… the terrorist and make him a role model,” and that this step may “serve as a deterrent". This is another form of harm to innocents official justify as deterrence. B’Tselem calls upon the authorities to make a clear distinction between the grave actions of the deceased and any harm to their relatives, who are not suspected of any offense.