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Newsletter 31 May 2012

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NEWSLETTER 31 May. 2012
B'Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
A Member of the settlement Yitzhar's security squad prepares to fire at youths from 'Asira al-Qibliya in the presence of soldiers. Still from video, 19 May 2012
A Member of the settlement Yitzhar's security squad aims his gun at youths from 'Asira al-Qibliya in the presence of soldiers. Still from video, 19 May 2012
Dear friends,

Last Saturday (26 May 2012), I witnessed events that I’d previously only seen in video footage or heard about from witnesses. During a meeting with B’Tselem volunteers in Asirah al-Qibliyah, we saw smoke from the direction of the neighboring village Urif. When we phoned people there, they told us that it was the result of arson. I drove to the area with B’Tselem’s field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, and we saw dozens of settlers from Yitzhar who invaded the village's agricultural land. The settlers threw stones and set fire to the villagers’ fields and orchards. Some youths from the village approached them trying to douse the flames and some also threw stones at settlers. In one incident I witnessed and documented, Settlers from Yitzar’s emergency squad shot and severely wounded a villager, Najeh Ass’ad Najeh a-Safdi, aged 21, in his stomach. (To view videos click here)

All of this took place while there were dozens of soldiers present who did not stop the settlers - even after they set fire to the fields and wounded a-Safdi. While the army had increased the size of its force in the area, the soldiers evidently were not instructed to protect the Palestinian villagers. On  the contrary - soldiers fired tear gas at village residents and delayed the evacuation of the wounded man. This incident took place just a week after a Palestinian from the village of Asira a-Qibliya was shot and injured by gunfire from this same settlement security squad. (To view videos click here)

We will provide the law enforcement authorities with all of our documentation of these events and demand that an investigation be conducted and that incidents of this nature not recur.

Sarit Michaeli, Spokesperson
B'Tselem to Levy Committee: Don't miss the opportunity to make the government uphold the rule of law

The village Um al-‘Kheir, in the Southern Hebron Hills, with the Carmel settlement in the  background. Photo: Keren Manor,, 10 March 2011.The Committee to Examine the State of Construction in the West Bank, Chaired by Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Edmund Levy, is expected to announce its position in the near future. In anticipation of this, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has called on the committee to not cooperate with the government's intention to legalize settlement building on West Bank land.

Ta’ayush video: Settler attacks B’Tselem field researcher while soldiers watch

Earlier this week, on the afternoon of 21 May 2012, settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers harvesting on their land near the Mitzpe Yair outpost. One settler lifted a sickle from the ground and brandished it threateningly at B’Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj’ah, who was present, then grabbed Nawaj’ah’s camera and smashed it. The soldiers standing nearby did nothing to prevent the attack. B’Tselem submitted a complaint to the Judea and Samaria district police.

B’Tselem appeals closing of investigation into death of Firas Qasqas

Poster in memory of Firas Qasqas. Photo: Sarit Michaeli, B'Tselem, 11 Dec. 2007.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.

Five years without visits – Will family visits be renewed for prisoners from Gaza?
Palestinians demonstrate for the release family members imprisoned in Israel, Gaza City, 12 December 2011.On 15 May 2012 the media reported that an agreement was reached between Israel and representatives of the Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, following a hunger strike that lasted some six weeks. One of the demands of the strikers was the resumption of family visits for the prisoners from Gaza, which were stopped in 2007. The ongoing denial of the rights of prisoners and detainees from Gaza to received family visits is a very serious blow to their right to family life.
B'Tselem to Attorney General: do not allow home demolition of relatives of Fogel Family murderers

B'Tselem has written to the Israeli Attorney General, Adv. Yehuda Weinstein, requesting him to reject the Israel Security Agency (ISA) recommendation to demolish the 'Awarta homes of the families of Amjad and Hakim Awad, who murdered five members of the Fogel family in March 2011. B'Tselem Executive Director Jessica Montell wrote that the attack carried out by Amjad and Hakim Awad is shocking and horrifying. Nothing about that attack, however, makes harming their relatives, who were never found guilty of involvement of any kind, legal or moral.

Positions at B'Tselem

Two positions available at B’Tselem: international Relations Associate at the Jerusalem office and Associate Director for USA Office in Washington.

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