Updates

Settler violence: Lack of accountability

On 22 April ‘17, settlers from Yitzhar and its outposts threw stones at cars and homes in the village of ‘Urif. Later that day, settlers attacked people and homes in the town of Huwarah. Security personnel who arrived at the scene made no arrests and allowed the attackers to simply walk away. Experience shows the police will likely not take any follow-up measures and the violence will continue. These attacks are allowed to continue as they are a privatized use of force, serving Israel’s agenda of taking over more land in the West Bank.

Badi'a 'Odeh, 68, in hospital after being attacked by settlers. Photo by Salma a-Deb'i, B'Tselem, 22 April '17
June 8

Yesterday, 27 May 2017, “The Invisible Walls of Occupation” was announced as winner of the Best Interactive Experience Award at the T.O. WebFest 2017, a Toronto festival dedicated to web-based content. Viewers of the interactive documentary, which illustrates various aspects of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation, are invited on a virtual tour of the Palestinian village of Burqah. The project was co-produced by B’Tselem and Canadian digital studio Folklore, and is based on a B’Tselem report by the same name.

May 28

The neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa in the heart of Silwan, East Jerusalem, is the setting for the largest expulsion in recent years in the city, a process supported by the Israeli government and courts. Click on the figures to enter the neighborhood’s story.

May 8

On 16 Mar. settlers harassed students in a Burin school, threw stones and fired in the air. Instead of arresting or removing the settlers, soldiers who came to the scene repeated their claims that students had thrown stones. The case illustrates how the military serves the settlers, acting as their mouthpiece, and does not protect Palestinians. It also demonstrates the double standard on stone throwing: Palestinians throwing stones are considered an immediate threat justifying lethal force; whereas settlers, even if they fire, are presumed to be justified and the military stands by as an onlooker.

Still from video filmed by Tharwah ‘Eid, B'Tselem Camera Project
April 25

A selection of films produced by B’Tselem’s video department will be screened during the 2017 Solidarity Human Rights Film Festival at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. On 9 May, the festival will host an evening to mark a decade of work by B’Tselem’s camera distribution project: “The Best of the Worst” – a selection of videos that reflect various aspects of the occupation, which will be marking its 50th year this June. On 6 May, the festival will screen the video diaries of two Palestinian women from the Jordan Valley who documented their lives and the lives of their families.

Nivin Bsharat. Still from video
April 20

Today, 13 February 2017, B’Tselem released a new interactive documentary entitled “The Invisible Walls of Occupation”. Viewers are invited on a virtual tour of the Palestinian village of Burqah, a rural suburb of the city of Ramallah that has become cut off from its urban center through various restrictions imposed by Israel. The documentary has Burqah residents leading viewers on a virtual tour of their village. The project depicts the story of the village and illustrates various aspects of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation. The project was co-produced by B’Tselem and Canadian digital studio Folklore, and is based on a B’Tselem report by the same name.

February 16

B’Tselem mapped the processes underway in Batan al-Hawa, which is facing the most extensive dispossession in East Jerusalem in recent years. Israeli authorities have already transferred 9 of its roughly 50 parcels to the Ateret Cohanim association, and settlers have moved in to 5. Eviction claims are pending against 81 Palestinian families who have lived in the neighborhood for decades. Residents are also subjected to other types of pressure. Settler presence brings with it the police, the Border Police and private security guards; they regularly use violence against local residents, including live fire and crowd control measures, threats, arresting minors and disrupting the fabric of life.

Residents and police in the neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa. Photo by Hussam ‘Abed, B’Tselem, 29 Nov. 2016
December 21

The report B’Tselem published today shows how Israel has been taking over Palestinian rural space, fragmenting it, dispossessing its residents of land and water, and handing over these areas to settlers. The process is illustrated through a case study of three villages in the Nablus District - ‘Azmut, Deir al-Hatab and Salem - telling what these communities have undergone since Israel established the Elon Moreh settlement nearby. Through this case study, the report illustrates a broader policy Israel has been implementing throughout the West Bank for decades, and in which the settlers play a key role.

December 5

B’Tselem complains to Israel Police about its conduct in three attempts made by B’Tselem volunteer, ‘Imad Abu Shamsieyh, who filmed an Israeli soldier killing a Palestinian, to file a complaint regarding threats he has received on Facebook. Abu Shamsiyeh got sent back and forth and on the last time, threatened with arrest if he did not leave the station. Adv. Gaby Lasky wrote to the police on behalf of B’Tselem and Abu Shamsiyeh, saying the officers had committed disciplinary offenses and abused their power.

‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh. Photo: Sarit Michaeli, B'Tselem, 19 April 2016
September 1

Yesterday (4 May) Raed Abu a-Rmeileh, a former B’Tselem camera volunteer, and two friends were assaulted by settlers when Abu a-Rmeileh tried to film them harassing two girls with a dog. He was hit on the head with a drink can and knocked to the ground. The settlers then assaulted his friends and fled. Soldiers present did nothing to stop the attack or help Abu a-Rmeileh, who was later taken to hospital with a light head injury. After his release today, he filed a police complaint, provided the footage and identified the assailants’ photos.

Still from video.
May 5

B’Tselem director wrote yesterday to OC Central Command and Chief of Police informing them of death threats made against ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, the B’Tselem volunteer who filmed the incident in which a soldier shot and killed ‘Abd al-Fatah a-Sharif in Hebron. El-Ad requested assurance that the military and police commanders are aware of the danger to which Abu Shamsiyeh and his family are exposed. Since the footage was released, Abu Shamsiyeh and his family have been subjected to threats of murder, stones thrown at their home, and hateful posts on Facebook. Most of this violence was instigated by settlers.

‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh
March 31

Recent reports state the ISA may use “special measures” against the suspects in the Duma torching which killed three members of the Dawabsheh family. These measures are a code name for abuse used in the interrogation system developed since the 1999 court ruling banning torture. Authorities must fully investigate and prosecute this heinous crime, one of the worst perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians, but it must do so without resorting to prohibited measures or violating suspects’ rights. The same must apply to all Palestinian detainees, who are routinely abused and at times tortured.

Sleep deprivation, one of the “special measures”. Illustration by Ishai Mishory.
December 15

Today is International Human Rights Day, marking the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that states all people deserve life, security, liberty, equality and dignity. On the other side of the Green Line, a line essentially invisible to Israelis, millions of people – Palestinian residents of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip - are being deprived of their rights, a deprivation particularly blatant in Hebron. To mark the day, we made a clip on the background to current events in Hebron, and the daily oppression in a city that has become a flashpoint for violent flare-ups.

December 10

B’Tselem documented a five-day (6-10 Oct. 2015) campaign of violence by settlers against Palestinians in Hebron. Settlers repeatedly threw stones and bottles at Palestinian homes near the Kiryat Arba settlement fence, while Israeli security forces looked on. Settler violence intensified after two attacks by Palestinians in Hebron: a settler sustained serious injuries and a Border Police officer was slightly injured; one perpetrator fled, the other was shot to death. In another incident, a confrontation developed with settlers and Palestinians throwing stones at each other. Soldiers stood by the former and fired tear-gas at the latter. This glimpse of daily life in Hebron is an extreme example of the imbalance of power throughout the West Bank, in which Israeli forces back settler violence targeting Palestinians.

Still from video: Palestinians and settlers throw stones at each other, while soldiers standing near the settlers fire tear-gas canisters at the Palestinians. Filmed by Ayat al-Ja’bri at 12:57 P.M. on 9 Oct. 2015.
October 20

Subsequent to the attack in which Palestinians killed Eitam and Naama Henkin, settlers attacked Palestinians and their property in many parts of the West Bank. Footage shows that soldiers were present at the scene throughout the incidents, but did not prevent attacks or arrest perpetrators. On the contrary, the soldiers accompanied settlers on their rampage, and used crowd-control weapons against Palestinian youth from the villages who threw stones at the settlers to push them back.

Still from video.
October 8

Israel’s administrative detention of extreme right-wing activist Mordechai Mayer and planned administrative detention of two other such activists, reportedly authorized by the Attorney General, is unacceptable. Recent calls to amend the law on this matter and use draconian measures such as administrative detention and illegal interrogation methods convey the impression that Israel’s law enforcement system indeed wishes to prevent settlers from harming Palestinians. However, past experience shows that these steps are meant primarily to create a false show of firm action in order to decrease public criticism, in this case concerning the killing of Palestinian baby ‘Ali Dawabsheh by arson in the West Bank village of Duma.

Settlers in the fields of ‘Asira al-Qibliya. Photo: Omar Qusini, Reuters, 3 July 2011
August 6

The killing of a one and a half year old infant, 'Ali Sa'ed Dawabshe, and the serious injury of his mother Riham and toddler brother 'Ahmed, after a suspected arson attack by Israeli civilians burned their home, was only a matter of time. This, due to the authorities' policy to avoid enforcing the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians and their property. This policy creates impunity for hate crimes, and encourages assailants to continue, leading to this morning's horrific result.

"Vengeance" - Graffiti in Duma this morning. Photo: Yusef Diriyah, B'Tselem volunteer
July 31

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.

Milad ‘Ayash. Photo courtesy of the family.
May 3

In the past two months vandals destroyed Palestinian olive groves in four locations in the South Hebron Hills, near the settlements Susiya and Mitzpe Yair. All incidents occurred only several hundred meters apart, under the nose of the police and miiltary, who appear to have not lifted a finger to stop this rampage.

An uprooted olive seedling. Photo: Nasser Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem, 26 Feb. 2015
February 26

On 4 Dec. 2014 two settlers were driving near Wadi a-Nasara checkpoint when a Palestinian youth threw stones at them. They got out of the car and attempted pursuit. Footage by a B’Tselem camera volunteer shows that when the pursuit proved unsuccessful, they vandalized nearby Palestinian property. Police and soldiers who arrived at the scene did not detain the two and allowed them to leave unhindered. This incident is part of the reality of live in Hebron, with the military and the police standing by as settlers take the law into their own hands.

Still from video: One of the settlers chucks a Palestinian grocer’s egg cartons.
December 8