Still from video.

On 19 March 2017 at midday, a force of more than 15 soldiers seized 8-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah, who was out on the street barefoot, looking for a toy he had lost. Two soldiers dragged him to the al-Harika neighborhood and took him into several homes to identify children who had thrown stones and a Molotov cocktail at the Kiryat Arba settlement. More than an hour later, several women managed to extricate the boy and return him to his mother. Two area residents, including B’Tselem volunteer May D’ana, captured the incident on video.

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On 20 Jan. 2017 local youths clashed with Israeli security forces in the village of Sa’ir, northeast of Hebron. Women and girls who had been watching the clashes fled when the youths did; they were pursued by Border Police who stormed into their homes and attacked three. Part of the assault was captured on video. This is but one of many cases of security forces’ violence against Palestinian children and youth documented by B’Tselem. The recurrence of this conduct, and the lack of accountability indicates it is tacitly condoned by the most senior officials of Israel’s security establishment.

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Yesterday, Tuesday 14 March 2017, Civil Administration personnel came to the region of the Furush Beit Dajan community. The settlement of Hamra had been established near the community in the 1970s. The Civil Administration confiscated a trailer which served as home to a nine-person family, including two minors. In addition, they demolished a covered shelter owned by two of the community’s families which was being used as a fresh produce market stall, and also ruined the fruits and vegetables on sale there.

Ahmad Shbeir's photo in his room. Photo by Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 23 Jan. 2017

Ahmad Shbeir was born in Gaza in 1999 with congenital heart defects. Gaza hospitals cannot perform the procedures he needed, so he underwent many operations in Israeli hospitals. Prior to the open-heart surgery he had scheduled for Sept. 2016 in an Israeli hospital, he was called in to meet with the ISA at Erez Checkpoint. His mother says he was then asked to become a collaborator with Israel. When he refused, he was told he would not get a permit to enter Israel, and his applications were in fact denied. His condition went from bad to worse and he died on 14 Jan. 2017.

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On Friday, 10 Feb. 2017, Madama residents went out to enjoy the good weather at a spot south of the village. Soldiers guarding the nearby settlement of Yitzhar came there and threw tear-gas canisters at the villagers. Ahmad Ziyadah, a B’Tselem camera project volunteer, began filming some of the soldiers and was ordered to leave. When he refused, he was violently detained. His brother arrived to help him and a soldier fired a rubber-coated metal bullet at short range at his knee. Ziyadah, who did nothing more than film the soldiers, was kept in custody for six days with the backing of a military court.

Over the past twenty years, Israel has taken measures to guarantee a nearly blanket exemption from its obligation under international law to pay compensation to Palestinians harmed by its security forces. In a new report released today (Wed., 8 March), B’Tselem traces the development of this practice and illustrates how it has led to a major drop in the number of claims for damages Palestinians filed in recent years. Israel’s policy reflects how little value it places on the lives, bodies and property of Palestinians living under its control.

Iman Shanan, director of the program. Still from video.

Many cancer patients cannot get the treatment they need in Gaza. WHO figures indicate that in 2016 Israel reduced the number of Gazan cancer patients allowed to receive treatment in the West Bank or Israel, denying over a third of applications. Iman Shanan, a recovering cancer patient who has to endure Israeli restrictions on access to treatment outside Gaza, founded the Aid and Hope Program for Cancer Patients Care. She discusses the particular hardships suffered by women cancer patients in Gaza and the program which offers them aid.

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Since 2000, Israel has maintained a “buffer zone” along the Gaza border, within Gaza, restricting Palestinians’ access to their farmland and killing or injuring hundreds of civilians who posed no danger. Since 2014, the military has also sprayed herbicides to maintain the “buffer zone”, damaging land it authorizes owners to cultivate. In January, spraying without prior notice caused farmers serious damage. If Israel believes a “sterile” is crucial to its security, it must establish the zone in its own territory.

Qusai al-‘Amur. Photo courtesy of the family

On 16 January 2017, a Border Police officer fatally shot Qusai Hassan Muhammad al-‘Amur, 17, of Tuqu’ in Bethlehem District, firing four 0.22-inch caliber bullets at him. B’Tselem’s inquiry found that the gunfire came after clashes between youths and the security forces had died down, and the security forces were in no danger. Six Palestinians (including al-‘Amur) have been killed and hundreds injured over the past two years by the military’s use of 0.22 inch caliber bullets as a crowd control measure. Video footage published in the media shows soldiers brutally dragging the injured al-‘Amur along the ground, indicating their profound disregard for his life.

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.

Reality check: Almost fifty years of occupation

The occupation is 49 years old. That’s 17,898 days. International law defines occupation as a temporary situation, but after nearly 50 years the reality in the West Bank and Gaza can no longer be considered temporary. It is unreasonable to keep hoping that Israel end this situation of its own volition. As the occupation enters its 50th year, B’Tselem presents the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The facts are well-known. Equally well-known is that standing idly by means perpetuating the current situation. Determined action is needed now to clearly demonstrate the termination of local and international cooperation with the occupation.

B'Tselem has championed human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for over two decades, promoting a future where all Israelis and Palestinians will live in freedom and dignity.

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