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From the field

May the new year begin with its blessings


Dear friends,

Life with the coronavirus has forced tension and anxiety on us all: financial uncertainty, lockdowns, vaccinations, and for some, even worse . Yet even in these difficult times, Israel’s apartheid and occupation regime continues, unabated, to operate under its basic guiding principle: perpetuating Jewish supremacy.

This principle is starkly evident when it comes to vaccinations. While the campaign to vaccinate Israelis is considered efficient and successful, millions of Palestinians living right next door, under the same regime, remain unvaccinated. The Israeli government has completely abdicated its responsibility for their wellbeing, as though it has nothing to do with them.

Palestinians are forced to deal not only with the repercussions of the pandemic, but also with Israel’s ongoing, longstanding policy: dispossession from their land and livelihoods; massive home demolitions and intimidation of vulnerable communities; fatal shootings – with impunity – of Palestinian protesters; frequent night raids that intimidate entire families; repeated attacks by settlers and soldiers against Palestinian villages and a spike in state-backed settler violence throughout the West Bank; the suffocating blockade on two million people imprisoned in Gaza, alongside the horrendous war in May; and the list goes on.

Despite the challenges posed to us by the pandemic, and particularly to our field researchers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, during this entire time we managed to provide the public and decision-makers, in Israel and around the world, with accurate, reliable information about events on the ground, as well as with fact-based analyses of unfolding processes and regarding the true nature of the Israeli regime.    

Until everyone here lives under a regime that is not based on the supremacy of one group over another – we promise to continue. Now, as we mark the the beginning of the new Jewish year, we ask for your help.

Your support will allow us to continue to work for a future in which equality, democracy and human rights are ensured to all the people who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Shana Tova,
Ety Dery
B’Tselem Associate Director

More about our recent work:

During Israel’s May war in the Gaza Strip, we clarified why the military’s policy was unlawful. We explained why the bombing of civilian objects – such as residential towers – is prohibited, and refuted claims by Israeli officials that these attacks were not only legal but also proportionate. When the war ended, we determined, based on B’Tselem’s years of experience, that there was no point in expecting Israel to investigate its own actions during the war and that once the fighting had stopped, the whitewashing of crimes would begin. Since then, we have been collecting data and testimonies regarding what took place in the war, to be published in the coming weeks.

Over the course of the war, Israeli security forces killed 26 Palestinians in the West Bank. In recent weeks we have published several investigations regarding the killing of Palestinians during West Bank demonstrations against the events in Gaza, and against security forces’ violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque and the planned evictions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The victims included Islam Dar Nasser (16), Malek Hamdan (20), Muntasser Zidan (29), Yusef a-Nawasrah (27), Nizar Abu Zeinah (23) and Fadi Washahah (34). We also published our findings regarding the killing of Hussein Titi (27) during a violent military raid on al-Fawwar Refugee Camp and the injury of four other Palestinians.

Another three Palestinians – ‘Awad Harb (27), a married father of one, Nidal Safadi (30), a married father of three, and Husam ‘Asayrah (19) – were fatally shot in May when soldiers and settlers raided and attacked Palestinian villages together.   

We also published video footage proving that Special Police Unit officers carried out a targeted killing of Ahmad ‘Abdu (25) while he was sitting in his car and not endangering anyone. Additional footage we published showed that the soldiers who killed 11-year-old Muhammad Abu Sarah (al-‘Alami) had fired at the vehicle in which he was sitting with his family as it was driving away from them.

In recent months, we continued to document settler violence against Palestinians – backed and supported by the state, with soldiers sometimes participating. Notable cases include a violent assault aimed at farmers from Khirbet Tana and Beit Furik and an attack near a-Tuwani during which a settler fired a weapon he had taken or received from a soldier. You can read about dozens of other cases we documented on our blog, State-Backed Settler Violence.

We also regularly document Israel’s demolition of homes and of other structures, in its bid to expel Palestinian communities from their areas of residence by creating unbearable living conditions, in the hope that they will leave seemingly of their own free will. Other measures taken to that end include uprooting trees, confiscating humanitarian equipment, destroying access roads, and military training among residents’ homes and fields. All of these are carried out on an ongoing, extensive basis, as reported on our blog, Communities Facing Expulsion.  

A prominent feature of the summer has been widespread demolitions during heatwaves, leaving the residents of Palestinian communities – among the most vulnerable in the territory Israel controls – without shelter or even water. In July, Israel demolished the community of Khirbet Humsah for the sixth time in under a year and dismantled and confiscated all the equipment belonging to residents of Ras a-Tin. A similar policy is also imposed on Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. In the month of August alone, homes that belonged to 66 people, including 39 minors, were demolished. In 12 of the demolitions the homeowners demolished their own houses to avoid the hefty levies the city collects for demolitions it carries out itself.

We also continue to document the occupation’s violent routine, such as a violent incursion into the homes of Kafr Qadum residents and the daily harassment of Palestinian residents of Hebron by settlers and security forces.  

B’Tselem in the media:

Parents of paralyzed Palestinian struggle with grief and regret after shooting, NBC News

Boycotts and sanctions helped rid South Africa of apartheid – is Israel next in line?, The Guardian

Hagai El-Ad: Apartheid in Israel and Palestine, The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow

Don’t Forget About Israelis, Palestinians When Bombs Aren’t Falling, The Mehdi Hasan Show

Israel has chosen a two-tiered society. Violence is the inevitable result, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad at the Washington Post

Israel Kills Dozens in Gaza While Imposing “Constant War” on Palestinian Residents of Jerusalem, B’Tselem Board Member Orly Noy at Democracy Now

Israeli Human Rights Group B’Tselem Blasts Two-Tiered Apartheid Israel, Says Violence Is “Inevitable”, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad at Democracy Now

‘We came here to redeem a land and we end up contaminating it’: Israel’s pollution problem in Palestine, the Independent

From Sheikh Jarrah to Gaza: Journalism under apartheid, interview with B’Tselem Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad, on Aljazeera  

Joint Militias: On a Single Day in May, Israeli Settlers and Soldiers Cooperated in Attacks That Left Four Palestinians Dead, The Intercept

Helping hand: Israeli forces in the service of Jewish settlers, Aljazeera

Israel investigating May barrage that killed 6 in Gaza, ABC News