Updates

Gaza Strip

Noam Rabinovich's comic strip was inspired by the testimony of Maha Hijawi, an interior designer who owns an engineering company in Nablus, where she lives with her husband and children. The testimony was included in the report "So Near and Yet So Far", which describes Israel's isolationist policy towards the Gaza Strip. B'Tselem entrusted five women illustrators with the stories of five women who appear in the report. This is the fourth graphic interpretation in the series. The fifth will be uploaded in the near future.

April 8

On 17 March The military cancelled the family visits–permitted once every 2-3 months–to Gazans being held in Israel. In view of rocket-fire from Gaza targeting communities in southern Israel, the military announced on 12 Mar. 2014 that passage through Erez Crossing would be restricted to humanitarian cases and Kerem Shalom Crossing would be closed. This led to even greater power shortages in Gaza as Israel held up delivery of diesel to power Gaza’s electric plant. B’Tselem calls on Israel to refrain from collective punishment of Gaza residents.

March 17

The IDF Spokesperson announced that, following rocket fire from Gaza aimed at communities in southern Israel, Kerem Shalom Crossing would be closed and Erez Crossing limited to cases that the military defines humanitarian. Closing the crossings will also have a severe effect on electricity supply in the Gaza Strip, as tomorrow Israel is supposed to transfer 500,000 liters of diesel fuel that Gaza has purchased. It is Israel’s duty to protect its borders and residents; however, that does not justify such harsh measures against all residents of the Gaza Strip who are not involved in the hostilities.

March 13

In light of the recent escalation in violence on the Gaza-Israel border, B’Tselem reiterates that directing rocket and missile fire at civilians is prohibited and constitutes a war crime.Attacks aimed at civilians are immoral and illegal. The Hamas government in Gaza must take all legal measures at its disposal to stop the rocket fire. B’Tselem demands that all sides involved in the hostilities take all possible steps to protect civilians from the consequences. The laws of war obligate all sides to do all that is in their power to prevent harm to civilians.

March 13

B’Tselem recorded 5 fatalities and 55 injuries recently, all of Palestinian uninvolved in hostilities near the Gaza perimeter fence. Although the military refuses to publish the relevant open-fire regulations, statements by officials indicate the possibility that lethal fire might be permitted even in cases of civilians who pose no danger. As Gazans use the area near the fence for various civilian needs, it cannot be regarded exclusively as a combat zone. The military must institute open-fire regulations that take this reality into account.

March 4

On Fridays in recent months, youths have been frequenting an area east of Jabalya RC, a rare open space in the congested Gaza Strip. Some stroll or rest. Others come to demonstrate, burn tires or throw stones at the perimeter fence. Several times Molotov cocktails were lobbed at the fence and its patrol. Soldiers positioned on the Israeli side of the perimeter fence use various measures – from tear-gas to live ammunition – to get the youths to back away from the fence. B'Tselem field researcher Muhammad Sabah documented the scene.

March 4

Julia Lind's comic strip was inspired by the testimony of ‘Abir Sharaf, a social worker from Nablus. The testimony was included in the report "So Near and Yet So Far", which describes Israel's isolationist policy towards the Gaza Strip. B'Tselem entrusted five testimonies with five female Illustrators, whose interpretations will be presented here in the coming weeks.

February 25

“No child should have to be afraid to drink a glass of water lest there be none tomorrow. These are my difficulties. These are my children’s fears.” Thus B’Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj'ah concluded his open letter in Haaretz to Minister Naftaly Bennett. The inequity of water supplied to Israelis versus Palestinians came up for discussion in Knesset last week. Consequntly, we posted precise figures regarding water consumption in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We invite you to take a look at the situation yourself.

February 19

Gaza has been suffering a severe water crisis for years, due to contamination of its main water source – the coastal aquifer – by over-pumping and lack of proper sewage treatment. Residents buy drinking water from wastewater treatment plants as over 90% of the aquifer's water is un-potable, a number expected to reach 100% by 2016. UNEP has called on Israel, the PA, Hamas and Egypt to take immediate action on the matter. Meanwhile, Israel must allow into Gaza materials and equipment needed to restore and develop its sewage treatment infrastructure.

February 9

On 20 Dec. 2013 soldiers shot and killed ‘Odeh Hamad while he and his brother Radad were collecting scraps at the Beit Hanoun garbage dump. Radad, who reported hearing no warning beforehand, ran for help. While Hamad lay injured, soldiers just across the fence offered him no medical assistance, nor did they help the paramedics locate him. He was found after a half hour-long search and died shortly after reaching hospital. B’Tselem documented similar incidents at the same site, including four in the last 18 months in which civilians were injured.

February 3

The picturesque sight of Gaza’s fishing harbor is misleading. The boats are out of commission and the docks deserted. The Israeli military restricts fishing range to a mere six nautical miles off Gaza's shore. Any fishermen who venture beyond this limited range risk being shot at, arrested, and having boats and fishing gear confiscated. In addition, lately Gaza has been experiencing a severe fuel shortage, ever since Egypt demolished tunnels on its border. This means that fishermen cannot afford the fuel necessary for running their boats, bringing the fishing industry to a standstill.

January 29

Nibal Mghari, who lives in Gaza with her husband and children, and her mother, who lives in Jenin, describe the pain and longing of being cut off from each other. A report by HaMoked and B’Tselem explores Palestinians’ right to family life in view of Israel’s isolationist policy, which practically prohibits passage between Gaza and the West Bank, thereby severing families and keeping tens of thousands of people from living normally. Basic features of life–building a family, living with one’s spouse and children and regular contact with the extended family–become a pipedream.

January 20

The report explores Palestinians’ right to family life in view of Israel’s isolationist policy, which practically prohibits passage between Gaza and the West Bank, thereby severing families and keeping couples from living normally, if one spouse is from Gaza and the other from the West Bank. Tens of thousands face this impossible reality, whereby Israel intrudes on the most intimate aspects of life. Basic features of life–building a family, living with one’s spouse and children and regular contact with the extended family–become a pipedream.

January 19

Since it imposed a siege on Gaza in 2007, Israel has allowed almost no construction supplies into Gaza, with the exception of supplies for international projects. The construction sector relied on materials brought in from Egypt through tunnels. After Egyptian President Morsi was overthrown, Egyptian security forces demolished many tunnels, and only three are currently operating. As a result, construction has ground to a halt in Gaza, leaving thousands unemployed. As the land crossings with Israel are now the only route for importing construction materials, the construction needs of the 1.7 million residents of Gaza are not being met. Israel, whose responsibility is heightened by this reality, must instate a new policy that takes into account the needs of Gazan’s residents, not only Israel’s security needs.

January 14

B’Tselem's initial inquiries indicates toddler Hala Abu Sbeikhah was killed yesterday after an Israeli tank fired three shells at her home. Hala’s aunt and two young cousins sustained injuries. Deliberate firing at a home occupied by civilians, without warning the inhabitants and ensuring they have vacated the premises, as appears to be the case in this situation, is unlawful. The military must immediately investigate the incident. Israeli military additionally closed Kerem Shalom Crossing, barring agricultural export and necessary fuel imports in a measure which constitutes collective punishment.

December 25

After Operation Pillar of Defense (Nov. 2012), an understanding was reached whereby Israel would ease restrictions on Palestinian access to farmland near the border. Previously, access to those areas–a third of Gaza Strip farmland–was strictly restricted, including by the use of live fire. B'Tselem has found that the military still limits access and does so with live fire. Israel must lift these restrictions, enabling farmers to work their land. As long as the restrictions remain, the military must refrain from using live fire to enforce them.

October 29

Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, a B’Tselem field researcher in the Gaza Strip, continues to bring us his personal Gaza: Last episode, I turned the camera inwards and looked at my home, my family, my local coffee shop. This time, we’ll go outside for a bit and visit my nephew Muamen. He and his friends are recent university graduates, but instead of finding jobs and joining the workforce, they’ve joined the most frustrated class of people in Gaza, the unemployed. Unemployment in Gaza among people under 30 is as high as 45%. Or as Muamen calls them, the “bummer generation”.

October 27

Since the Disengagement, Israel has retained control over all access points to and from Gaza, with the exception of Rafah Crossing. Israel prohibits air or sea travel to and from Gaza, and prohibits Palestinian travel from Israeli airports. The disruption of the right of movement of Gazans has worsened since July due to restrictions imposed by Egypt at Rafah. Israel’s control over most access to Gaza means it is responsible for enabling Gazans to fulfill their right to freedom of movement, subject to individualized security inspections.

October 15

On Wednesday, 2 Oct. 2013, Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip executed Hani 'Alayan, 27. 'Alayan was sentenced to death in 2012 for two counts of murder, one of them committed while he was a minor. His sentence was upheld in appeal on 12 July 2013. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza, 16 people have been executed. B’Tselem condemns the use of capital punishment, which is both immoral and a grave violation of human rights. The state may not take a person’s life and violate that person’s right to life as a punitive measure, even if it is ostensibly for the purpose of law enforcement.

October 3

40,000 to 50,000 individuals currently live in the Gaza Strip without ID cards recognized by Israel, nor do they have any official status elsewhere in the world. Some of them were born in the Gaza Strip but were never recognized as residents by Israel: some fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war, or left Gaza for various reasons after 1967 and later returned. A small number were born in the Gaza Strip and have never left it, but do not have ID cards for various reasons. Israel, which still controls the Palestinian Population Registry, must allow all stateless individuals in Gaza to obtain status.

July 23