On 11 Nov. 2017, settlers held a procession in Hebron’s Old City and the military shut down streets and shops along their way. The settlers tore down Palestinian flags hanging on closed shop doors, to which several Palestinian onlookers responded in protest. A soldier hit one of them, a 16-year-old, on the head with a rifle butt. This violence is part of daily life under occupation. It is not limited to beatings, but also takes the form of extreme restrictions imposed on Palestinians in the city to accommodate settlers.
On 31 Oct. 2017, a soldier fired at a passing car in the West Bank, injuring driver Muhammad Musa and his sister, Latifah. Israeli personnel did not offer first aid, stopped treatment by Palestinian paramedics and carelessly transferred the driver to an ambulance that took him to an Israeli hospital, where he died. B’Tselem’s investigation found that the shooting was unjustified. MPIU is reportedly investigating, but experience shows this will likely end in nothing. Musa is the 36th casualty of Israeli security forces in the West Bank in 2017.
A new B’Tselem report, Made in Israel, reveals how Israel exploits the West Bank to treat waste – including hazardous waste – generated in Israel. In so doing, Israel abuses its power as an occupying power. It exposes the Palestinian residents – who are excluded from the decision-making process – to environmental and health hazards. This reality is simply one more facet of the exploitative policy Israel has practiced consistently for fifty years now, using Palestinian space and people to further its own interests, as if the West Bank were its sovereign territory.
Faten Ahmad, 26, from Gaza, died of cancer in August. As the treatment she needed was unavailable in Gaza, she asked to receive it in East Jerusalem. Only one of her nine applications for a permit to leave Gaza was accepted. Every year, thousands apply to receive critical medical treatment in Israel or the West Bank. Last year, about half were not answered or were refused. Responsibility for conditions in Gaza, including the level of healthcare there, lies with Israel. Approving these requests is not an act of grace but a legal and moral duty.
In October and November 2017, B'Tselem documented four instances in which Israeli soldiers harassed Palestinian students and teachers crossing through a gate installed between their school and the road leading to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. These restrictions compound the constant harassment of Palestinian residents by security forces and settlers in Hebron. This intolerable reality has driven many Palestinians out of central Hebron and caused a economic collapse of the city center – effectively a form of silent transfer.
After two weeks of restrictions on access to al-Aqsa Mosque following the killing of Israeli police officers there, about 120 Palestinians planned to stay in the mosque overnight on 27 July 2017, fearing they would not be allowed in for Friday prayers the next day. The police raided the mosque and arrested all present. The treatment reported by several arrested minors is consistent with Israel’s well-documented policy of systemically violating the rights of hundreds of Palestinian teens a year, under a formalistic guise of legality.
Since 9 Nov. 2017, the military has restricted movement in four communities in the Masafer Yatta region of the South Hebron Hills, which are home to some 600 people. The roads connecting the communities and leading to the main road have been blocked off, forcing residents to walk a fair distance to the main road. These communities have been suffering incessant harassment for decades: Israel will not allow them to connect to infrastructure and repeatedly demolishes their homes, in an attempt to drive them out of the area.
On Friday afternoon, 13 Oct. 2017, youths threw stones at soldiers in the Bab a-Zawiya area in the center of Hebron. The soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets and stun grenades and violently detained 18 youths, most of them minors. Soldiers routinely enter Hebron, disrupting residents’ lives and arresting youths. No-one explained what was happening to the youths or allowed them to call their families, and they were interrogated without an attorney or family member. This reality forms part of the daily routine of occupation.
Over the past month, the state has informed three Palestinian communities that it intends to expel them from their homes and land. The notification was made by leaving orders on the roadside. Whatever the proceedings used by the state in its attempt to expel Palestinian residents from their homes, the crime is the same: the forcible transfer of a protected population, which amounts to a war crime. This is the case whether the violence used is direct or indirect, physical or administrative. Whether the expulsion is undertaken by force or by creating an intolerable reality that forces the residents to leave their homes and land – the essence is the same.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.