Updates

Accountability

Today, over 14 months since Lubna al-Hanash was killed on 23 Jan. 2013 by shots soldiers fired near al-‘Arrub RC, her father petitioned the HCJ with B’Tselem to oblige the MAG to decide whether to charge the perpetrators. Al-Hanash was shot in the head while strolling with a relative in the gardens of a college campus near Route 60. B’Tselem found that the two women posed no danger and that shooting at them was unjustified. The MAG’s prolonged delay violates the family’s rights by reducing the chances of an effective criminal procedure.

April 10

On 5 Dec. 2013, the MAG Corps notified B’Tselem of its decision to close the investigation into the killing of Mustafa Tamimi by a tear-gas canister fired at him in Dec. 2011. The Corps claimed that the firing was done "according to the relevant rules and regulations and did not involve any illegality." The decision, two years after the incident, conveys the military’s indifference to the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, and sends Israeli soldiers and officers the message that they will not be held accountable for killing unarmed civilians. In the meantime, this type of firing continues, and it is only a matter of time before yet another unarmed Palestinian civilian is killed in this way. B’Tselem will demand to see all the investigation material.

December 5

On 31 October 2013, Ahmad Tazaz’ah, 20, was killed in a market near Qabatiya, in the northern West Bank. According to B’Tselem’s inquiry, Tazaz’ah was killed by live ammunition fired by Israeli soldiers, and not in intra-Palestinian violence. According to the investigation, Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli troops returning from an arrest operation in Qabatiya. The troops stopped near the market and responded with crowd control weapons and live fire. Tazaz’ah was hit by a live round in the chest. B’Tselem’s inquiry shows the soldiers were not in any real danger, raising a grave suspicion they breached open-fire regulations. B'Tselem conveyed its findings to the MAG Corps, which announced the opening of a "limited investigation," in light of the suspicions regarding the involvement of Israeli soldiers in the incident.

November 11

4 and 1/2 years after Bassem Abu Rahmeh, 30, was killed when struck in the chest by a tear-gas grenade fired directly at him from close range, the state announced it is closing the case for lack of evidence. The announcement was made further to a High Court petition by Bassem’s mother, demanding an investigation into the killing of her son in April 2009 during a demonstration against the Separation Barrier in Bil’in. Three video segments prove that Abu Rahmeh was east of the barrier, did not act violently, and did not endanger the soldiers.

September 10

Six months after the Turkel Commission’s issued its report on Israel’s investigative policy of alleged violations of laws of war, B’Tselem published a position paper on the report. While the commission held that Israel fulfills its obligation to investigate, it noted: “in several of the areas examined, there are grounds for amending examination and investigation mechanisms and in several areas, there are grounds for changing the accepted policy”. The commission’s recommendations are far-reaching. Nonetheless, B’Tselem emphasizes that greater systemic change is needed to bring Israel’s military investigative policy up to par.

August 11

Ibrahim Sarhan, 21, was shot and killed by soldiers in July of 2011, at the al-Far'ah refugee camp, in the Tubas district. The MAG corps decided not to serve indictments against the soldiers who killed him. In an appeal against the decision filed this month, B'Tselem claims that the investigation materials contain evidence that the fatal shooting of Sarhan was carried out in violation of the open-fire regulations and without any justification. This case illustrates the military's problematic conduct with respect to investigating the killing of Palestinians.

August 1

Two years after the State Attorney’s Office announced a change to the military’s investigative policy, B'Tselem follows up the cases of civilians killed by the military in the West Bank. The information demonstrates that some of the investigations are of unreasonably lengthy duration. In other cases, the decision on how the case ought to be handled is delayed at the level of the MAG Corps. This type of investigative policy diminishes the prospects for an effective criminal proceeding, constituting a serious infringement of both the principle of the rule of law and the power to deter and prevent similar incidents.

May 1

The media have reported that on 18 March 2013 an Israeli soldier was convicted of negligent homicide in the death of ‘Udai Darawish. On 12 Jan. 2013 the soldier shot Darawish after the latter crossed into Israel from the West Bank through a gap in the Separation Barrier. Darawish was on his way to work in Israel but had no entry permit. The prosecution reportedly intended to charge the soldier with homicide, but the charge was reduced through a plea bargain. The soldier’s sentence is yet to be given. Indictments of soldiers involved in killing Palestinians are extremely rare. B’Tselem knows of only 15 indictments in such cases since the outbreak of the second Intifada.

April 9

On 3 March 2013, B’Tselem filed an appeal against the decision of the MAG Corps’ not to indict in the case of Eran Cohen, an Israel civilian injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet during a demonstration in Bil’in on 14 March 2008. Cohen was shot by an Israeli officer despite having done nothing to endanger the soldiers, as can be seen in two separate videos of the incident that were conveyed to the police. The MAG Corps refused to disclose to B’Tselem its reasoning for closing the case.

March 7

The mother of a resident of the village of Bil’in who was killed by a tear-gas grenade fired at him by a soldier has petitioned the High Court of Justice. The petition demands that the Military Advocate General, Major-General Danny Efroni, be ordered to reach a decision in the case and prosecute the soldier who fired the grenade and all those bearing command responsibility for the killing of her son. In the petition, which was filed jointly with Bil’in Village Council, B’Tselem and Yesh Din, Subhiya Abu Rahmeh demands an urgent hearing in view of the fact that almost four years have passed since her son was killed. The incident was documented in the film Five Broken Cameras, which was a candidate for the 2013 Academy Awards.

March 4

On 13 February 2013, an Israeli mounted policeman was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm to Fadi Darab’i, resident of Dura, Hebron District. The policeman was indicted in 2008 following a complaint filed by B’Tselem on Darab’i’s behalf. The complaint stated that policemen had assaulted Darab’i in April 2008, seriously injuring one of his testicles.

February 18

Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem welcomes the recommendations of the Turkel Commission concerning investigations of violations of the laws of armed conflict and calls for full and prompt implementation. Implementation of the commission’s recommendations will lead to a substantive change in the Israeli military’s investigatory apparatus. In its recommendations, the commission adopted several fundamental principles presented to it by representatives of B’Tselem, other human rights organizations and senior jurists.

February 6

The Department for the Investigation of Police, in the Ministry of Justice (DIP) has informed B'Tselem that it decided to initiate disciplinary proceedings for "unlawful use of force" against a border police officer who was filmed kicking a nine year old Palestinian boy. The DIP decided not to file a criminal indictment against the officer. B'Tselem has written to the DIP to obtain the full investigation file to determine whether further steps are warranted.

August 27

Following the signing of a plea bargain with a soldier charged with manslaughter during operation Cast Lead, B'Tselem demands that the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) reopen the file into the killing of Majedah and Rayah Abu Hajaj. If the military prosecution accepted the claim that there is no connection between the shooting he admitted to and the killing of the Palestinian mother and daughter, this means that the investigation into this incident was never completed. The MPIU must therefore solve the case and pursuant to the finding, hold accountable those responsible.

August 12

On 17 July 2012, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed an appeal with the State Attorney against the decision by the Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP) to close the investigation into a complaint by Silwan resident who was beaten by Border Police officers on 15 September 2011. In the appeal, ACRI argued that the DIP closed the case without pursuing all possible means to clarify the circumstances of the incident, and demanded that the State Attorney instruct the DIP to conduct a thorough investigation.

July 26

B’Tselem recently learned of the decision by the Police Investigations Unit (PIU) to close the files on three cases dealing with complaints submitted to the unit. Acting on behalf of the complainants, B’Tselem obtained and examined copies of the case files and found investigative errors and omissions. In two of the cases, an appeal has been submitted to the State’s Attorney by Atty. Gabi Lasky on behalf of B’Tselem. The third case was passed on to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has also submitted an appeal.

June 6

On 16 May 2012, on behalf of B’Tselem, Attorney Gabi Lasky filed an appeal with the State Attorney against the decision by the Central District Attorney’s Office to close the file on the fatal shooting of Firas Qasqas by reserve-duty soldiers some four years ago. The appeal was submitted after an examination of the material from the investigation into this case revealed concrete evidence that necessitates an indictment for the negligent shooting of Qasqas, and that therefore, the decision to close the case is unreasonable and should be reversed.

May 21

The al-Samouni case only illustrates the broader problem regarding the military’s ability to examine itself. Shirking responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the widespread devastation caused by Cast Lead demonstrates yet again the need for an Israeli investigation mechanism that is external to the army.

May 8

The MAG Corps informed B'Tselem today that it has closed the Military Police investigation file in the complaint into the killing of 21 members of the a-Samuni family in the Gaza Strip. The file was closed without taking any measures against those responsible. In response, Adv. Yael Stein, B'Tselem's head of research, said: it is unacceptable that no one is found responsible for an action of the army that led to the killing of 21 uninvolved civilians, inside the building they entered under soldiers' orders, even if this was not done deliberately. The way the army has exempted itself of responsibility for this event, even if only to acknowledge its severity and clarify its circumstances, is intolerable.

May 1

The annual report surveys the broad spectrum of issues regarding the Israeli authorities' human rights record in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past year, the 44th year of the Israeli occupation. An interactive version of the report is available online and distributed through social media. The report documents a sharp increase in the number of uninvolved Palestinians killed by the Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip in 2011. There was also an increase in the number of Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians, compared to 2010.

March 21