On 13 Nov. 2015, after a demonstration against the Separation Barrier in Budrus, several Palestinians approached the barrier. Soldiers emerged from an ambush and grabbed Lafy ‘Awad. They beat him as he tried to break free and his friends threw stones at the soldiers. He began to flee and a soldier shot him in the back, killing him. Three years ago soldiers killed Samir ‘Awad in almost identical circumstances; only recently was a decision made to try them on minor offenses. The policy of allowing armed ambushes against stone-throwers continues to take lives, permitting unjustified use of lethal force and needless death.
Since 9 Oct. 2015 solidarity protests with West Bank Palestinians have been held in Gaza. B’Tselem found that 14 people have been killed and 379 wounded, mostly by live fire. Israeli soldiers stationed across the fence, dozens of meters away from protesters generally faced no mortal danger that would require use of live fire; they could have used crowd control measures instead. The large number of casualties indicates excessive use of live fire and raises concerns of unjustified, disproportionate and unlawful gunfire.
Since early Oct. the number of Palestinians shot by Israeli security forces at protests has risen sharply: five Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem). A particularly high proportion of casualties in the Ramallah area were hit by live gunfire. In addition, military orders restricting gunfire to the lower extremities notwithstanding, many individual were hit in the upper body by rubber-coated metal bullets. All this suggests that security forces are responding with excessive force to protests and clashes.
On 27 Oct. B’Tselem’s Hebron researcher Manal al-Ja'bri was injured documenting a protest. A rubber-coated metal bullet fired by Israeli security forces fractured a finger in her left hand. She was filming clashes between security forces and Palestinian youth near the Bab a-Zawiya Checkpoint, Hebron. Al-Ja'bri, in a blue B’Tselem vest, was standing with a group of journalists across the street and at a distance from the Palestinian stone throwers. There was no apparent reason for security forces to fire at her or at other journalists there.
Following the Israeli military’s probe into the killing of ‘Abd a-Rahman ‘Obeid Allah, 13, in ‘Aydah R.C. by a 0.22 bullet, B’Tselem calls on Israel’s security forces to immediately cease use of this ammunition as a means of crowd control and to refrain from using live ammunition in non-life-threatening circumstances. Since January, 4 Palestinians have been killed and dozens injured by 0.22 bullets. B’Tselem has found ever increasing use of this weapon and that contrary to official statements it is neither regulated nor restricted. It is lethal and the plan to use it in East Jerusalem will have lethal consequences.
Seven years ago, a military officer fired a rubber-coated metal bullet at Eran Cohen’s leg at a demonstration against the Separation Barrier in Bil’in. Three and a half years ago, the MAG decided to close the investigation. B’Tselem appealed the decision two years ago, arguing there is sufficient evidence to indict the officer. In March 2015, the MAG Corps notified B’Tselem that the investigation had been reopened to try and glean new evidence from the video footage in the case file. B’Tselem had sent in the footage shortly after the incident.
On 25 Feb. 2015, the MAG Corps informed B’Tselem of the closing of the investigation into the killing of Palestinian teens Muhammad and Usayed Qadus in the West Bank village of ‘Iraq Burin in March 2010. The investigation had taken five years and its findings, as reported by the MAG Corps, are absurd: on the one hand, the investigation found that only rubber-coated metal bullets had been fired during the incident; on the other hand it corroborated that the two teens were killed by live ammunition, and there is no dispute that they were killed by the military. On the basis of these unreasonable findings, the MAG Corps decided to file no charges.
B’Tselem has recently documented dozens of cases near Ramallah in which Israeli security forces injured Palestinians, some of them severely, with live gunfire. Most injuries are apparently the result of.22 inch bullets, whose impact is less than that of “ordinary” bullets but can still cause grave, even fatal injuries. The regular use of live fire against demonstrators in breach of regulations indicates that it is part of a policy, an unlawful policy. B’Tselem calls on security forces to stop firing live ammunition at unarmed civilians, except in extreme cases of immediate mortal danger.
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.
The mother of Bassem Abu Rahmeh, a resident of the West Bank village of Bil’in killed when a soldier fired a tear-gas canister at him, petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice yesterday demanding that the Court compel the Military Advocate General (MAG) and the Attorney General to reach a decision concerning the appeal over the closing of the investigation file, and to indict the soldier who fired the canister along with any others bearing military command responsibility for the killing of her son. In the petition, filed jointly with Israeli human rights organizations B’Tselem and Yesh Din, Subhiya Abu Rahmeh demanded that the Court put an end to the foot-dragging and the avoidance of conducting even the most basic investigative acts that could shed light on the identity of the persons responsible for killing her son.
Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein died today, Human Rights Day, after joining farmers in nonviolent protest against barred access to their land in the West Bank. While the circumstances of his death need clarifying, the reason for the protest and how Israeli security forces handle Palestinian protests are well-known. The state sends settlers to grab Palestinian land in the West Bank and then sends the army to forcefully silence protest – sometimes, at a lethal price. That is how Human Rights Day looks under occupation.
Since Operation Protective Edge began on 8 July 2014, Palestinians throughout the West Bank have held strikes, rallies, processions and demonstrations to show support for residents of Gaza and to protest the military's actions. At some demonstrations, Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and burned tires; at one demonstration in Qalandiya, Palestinians fired live ammunition. Initial investigations by B'Tselem's field researchers found that in many cases, Israeli security forces responded with live fire. Initial information obtained by B'Tselem raises suspicion that senior commanding officers in the West Bank permitted security forces to use live fire as a means of crowd control, even in clashes with unarmed stone-throwers and in circumstances that posed no mortal risk to anyone.
After undertaking an autopsy of the body of Nadim Nawarah, 17, on Wednesday, forensic pathologists have determined that a live bullet was the cause of his death. The Palestinian teenager was killed by Israeli forces on May 15 during clashes in the West Bank town of Beitunia. Responding to the conclusions of the autopsy, the four organizations who coordinated the attendance of the international forensic pathologists stated: "These findings underline the urgency of our demand that the criminal investigation into the Beitunia killings be conducted efficiently and concluded promptly. Rather than attempting to discredit those who called for an investigation, the Israeli military should now focus on uncovering the truth about the shootings, and holding those responsible to account."
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.
For technical reasons only segments of the footage of the gunfire incident in Bitunya–in which Nadim Siyam Nawarah, 17, and Muhammad Mahmoud Salameh, 17, were killed and 2 others injured–were broadcast. B’Tselem is currently uploading all 11 hours of footage and welcomes all to view it to verify its authenticity. Since 2012 Israeli forces have killed 45 Palestinians in the West Bank. To date, only 1 soldier has been indicted. An investigative system leading to virtually no indictments for killing Palestinians conveys disregard for human life.
On 15 May 2014, four Palestinians were shot with live bullets in their upper torsos in Bitunya. Two of them, both minors, died. B'Tselem's findings refute the army's claim that only crowd control measures were used and show that all four were shot with live ammunition, although they posed no danger to the forces. B'Tselem today received full security camera footage of the incident and will pass it on to the MPIU, demanding that the investigation examine not only the soldiers' conduct, but also the responsibility of senior commanders at the scene.
On 4 Apr. 2014 Muhammad Yassin, a B’Tselem’s camera volunteer, sustained severe internal injuries from live gunfire while filming clashes at Bitunya. Footage by David Reeb shows that Yassin was not at the center of the clashes, was carrying a camera and was clad in a vest indicating his photographer status. B’Tselem does not yet know what ammunition hit Yassin. The military, despite pledges to the contrary, often uses live 0.22-caliber bullets even when soldiers are not in mortal danger. B’Tselem demands that Yassin’s wounding be investigated.
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.
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.
The military came to al-'Arrub R.C. twice in recent weeks and put up posters threatening harm to parents of sons who persist in "acts of terrorism" and "disturbances of the peace". Some posters featured photos of the parents, a serious breach of their right to privacy even a case of personal persecution. B’Tselem and ACRI applied to the Legal Advisor of the Judea and Samaria Division demanding that he end the unlawful use of scare tactics and punish the soldiers involved, and also that he inform the troops that such "initiatives" are unlawful.