“My wife and I were afraid something bad would happen to Yasmin and Usamah. We thought my sister Kawthar’s home would be safer… It’s usually quiet there, and the bombings haven’t reached them... my cousin called from Khan Yunis. He said a missile had been fired at my sisters’ house and asked me to come quickly because my kids had been hurt... I ran like a maniac to Kawthar’s house. When I got to the front door, I realized something terrible had happened. People inside the house came up to me. They told me that my two children had been killed... I yelled and cried hysterically.
Beating & abuse
On 13 May 2011 Border Police violently dispersed a demonstration at a-Nabi Saleh. Of the five complaints filed, the DIP investigated only one and adopted no further measures. The DIP’s handling of the complaints was faulty and its decision not to investigate is unjustifiable. Of equal concern is the State Attorney's Office’s support of the DIP’s actions, essentially conveying the message that police officers who overstep their authority and harm civilians will not be brought to justice. This is in direct violation of the state’s obligation to safeguard civilians.
In an article in the Huffington Post, B'Tselem's Executive Director uses the recent conflict around displaying a Palestinian flag in Hebron as a metaphor for the broader situation: "Hebron is an extreme version, but the contours of what we see in Hebron are visible throughout the West Bank: two separate and discriminatory legal systems in force, with settlers enjoying all the rights of the Israeli democracy and even added perks and benefits, while Palestinians are subject to military law. It is a rotten system, one that inherently violates Palestinian rights and has a corrosive effect on the Israeli democracy."
The recently published report So Near and Yet So Far by HaMoked and B’Tselem presents Israel's policy of isolating the Gaza Strip. The policy results in a forced separation between families. Women are torn between their life with their husband and children and their longing to see the family into which they were born, whom they are rarely allowed to meet. In a unique project, B’Tselem entrusted five women illustrators with the testimonies of five women. The project was completed as International Women’s Day (8 March) approaches.
13 Nov. 2013, Burin: 11 villagers were taken from their beds and brought to the home of the high-school principal, which was converted into a makeshift interrogation center. The questioned men related that no charges were brought against them, and that the “interrogation” was meant to get them to prevent stone-throwing in the village. This severe infringement of civilians’ rights can hardly be justified. B’Tselem wrote to the relevant authorities inquiring whether the raid was part of official policy and, if so, what its legal grounds are.
The well-known public figure from Israel's pioneer generation explains why support for B'Tselem is so important: "B’Tselem does extraordinary work to protect the human rights of those living under occupation and to steer Israel to a path of justice and peace. To me, B’Tselem represents the Israeli heroism needed in this historical moment."
Since Nov. 2009, B’Tselem has received testimonies from dozens of Palestinian minors alleging that they were subjected to threats and violence, sometimes amounting to torture, under interrogation at the Gush Etzion police station. They claimed that the violence was used in order to force them into confessing to alleged offenses, mostly stone-throwing. Given the severity of these claims, the DIP and the Israel Police must examine the issue systemically, and not make do with the investigations opened into several particular cases following B’Tselem’s complaints. If the claims are substantiated, they must take immediate action to stop the illegal conduct and take legal and administrative measures against those responsible.
B'Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli published an article in the Hebrew daily, Ma'ariv. The article responds to claims by Ma'ariv columnist Ben Dror Yamini that the detention of a 5 year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron was an exceptional incident.
B'Tselem responded to the report of Israel's State Comptroller, which states that Israelis living in 83 settlements in the West Bank do not pay leasing fees for land they received from the state and that the authorities do not enforce the law on illegal construction, fearing opposition by settlers. B'Tselem said the comptroller's report added another layer to the understanding that Israel's entire law enforcement system in the West Bank is enslaved to the settlement project, and that the failings detailed are a direct result of the policy of successive Israeli governments, that have avoided for decades enforcing the law on Israeli citizens who harm Palestinians and their property.
On 21 June 2013, during the weekly demonstration at Kafr Qadum to protest the closing of the road that links the village to the city of Nablus, Israeli soldiers attacked a reporter and a photojournalist of the Palestinian television. The men were then detained and held in custody for two days. Part of the assault was caught on video, and the soldiers are seen beating reporter Ahmad ‘Othman as he tries to protect himself. In response to airing this footage, the IDF Spokesperson claimed that the journalists had attacked the soldiers, yet did not have any documentation to substantiate its claim. B’Tselem applied to the MAG Corps demanding an investigation of the incident.
In the middle of the night of 14 May 2013, Israeli policemen surrounded the home of Khader Sharif of Beit Ula, and ordered him to come out. Sharif, who had undergone surgery for a leg broken in a work accident, had not yet fully recovered and was using crutches. Sharif reported that as the policemen forced him into a vehicle, his injured leg collided with a step and suffered a new fracture. Nevertheless, the policemen hauled him from one police station to another, all the while treating him violently and disparagingly and refusing him medical attention. Sharif was finally released around noon, once questioning showed he could not have committed the alleged theft. He was let out at Tarqumya checkpoint, having received no medical treatment in breach of police directives.
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.”
According to B’Tselem’s inquiry, on 15 May 2013, two Palestinians trying to enter Israel through a breach in the Separation Barrier were attacked by dogs, allegedly on soldiers’ orders. B’Tselem applied to the MAG Corps demanding an investigation of the attack and the allegation that the soldiers had used excessive force in arresting the men. B’Tselem also wrote to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria demanding that the use of attack dogs against unarmed civilians be prohibited. No response has been received to date.
On Sunday, 26 May 2013, the military came to the home of the ‘Awads in Budrus to arrest ‘Abd a-Rahim ‘Awad. A younger son, Samir, had been killed by Israeli soldiers in January. In the course of the arrest, soldiers used force against ‘Abd a-Rahim and his family. The military stated that the family had violently resisted the arrest and that the soldiers’ response was “minimal”. To justify the soldiers’ behavior, the military released an edited video clip showing a small part of the incident. B’Tselem’s research indicates that, contrary to the military’s version, the soldiers acted violently from the very start, even before the family had a chance to resist. When ‘Abd a-Rahim’s family tried to protect him, the soldiers responded with violence and also heavily damaged the house.
The Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) will investigate a serious incident in which soldiers and Border Policemen beat a Palestinian youth while arresting him. The incident was captured by a security camera of the Ofra settlement, but the camera operators diverted the camera from the violent scene, apparently so as to avoid documenting it, and the video footage of the arrest was not transferred to the detainee’s defense attorney for nearly a month, during which time the youngster was held in detention. The MPIU only notified B’Tselem today that an investigation is to be opened, after the organization wrote urgently yesterday to demand investigation into the violent arrest and into suspicions of disruption of proceedings and failure to report a crime by the persons involved in the filming or persons who knew of it.
On 9 September 2012 B’Tselem contacted the Dept. for the Investigation of Police (DIP) demanding an investigation of Border Police officers who allegedly assaulted Sa’id Qiblawi, 14. According to testimonies B’Tselem collected, Qiblawi was arrested near his home by Border Police who were being stoned. A policeman dragged Qiblawi along the ground and put him into a jeep, where he was beaten. On 2 May 2013 the DIP informed B’Tselem that upon conclusion of the investigation, the case was closed for lack of evidence. B’Tselem applied to the DIP on behalf of the complainant’s family, requesting the investigative material in order to explore the option of appealing the closing of the case.
On 3 April 2013 soldiers standing near the guard tower at the ‘Anabta/Einav checkpoint shot and killed two Palestinians. Press reports indicate that the soldiers had advance warning of the Palestinians’ approach to the checkpoint and were waiting for them outside the military guard tower. B’Tselem’s inquiry indicates that soldiers may have acted in contravention of open-fire regulations.
On 24 April 2013, as has been a frequent occurrence of late, settlers from Giv’at Gal came onto the privately owned land of the Zaro family, of Hebron. The landowners called the police to report the trespassing. Israeli soldiers came to the scene and, rather than sending the settlers away, arrested the Palestinians. Part of the incident was filmed by a volunteer in B’Tselem’s camera project. The detainees were released the following day by a military judge after this footage was presented in court and it was proven that the there was no justification for the arrest, which involved violence towards one of the Zaros.
In March the Jerusalem Magistrate Court handed down a sentence for a Border policeman convicted of attacking a Palestinian child, Yunes Abu Ermeileh, in Hebron in 2009. The Department for the Investigation of Police (PID) opened its inquiry into the incident following a complaint filed by B’Tselem. Indictments of police on charges of violence against Palestinians are extremely rare. Of the more than 280 complaints lodged by B’Tselem of alleged police violence since the start of the second Intifada, we are aware of only 12 indictments.
Over the past three years, B’Tselem has documented 18 incidents in which demonstrators and photographers reported the use of pepper-spray in contravention of official police orders, with police pepper-spraying unarmed, non-violent civilians. Five of these incidents were captured on video. In the latest incident, a B’Tselem’s camera project volunteer was filming a demonstration in the village of a-Nabi Saleh when he was pepper-sprayed in the face by a Border policeman.