The entire area Israel controls between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is governed by a single regime working to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group over another. By geographically, demographically and physically engineering space, the regime enables Jews to live in a contiguous area with full rights, including self-determination, while Palestinians live in separate units and enjoy fewer rights. This qualifies as an apartheid regime, although Israel is commonly viewed as a democracy upholding a temporary occupation.
15 Israeli, Palestinian and international health and human rights organizations: Israel must provide necessary vaccines to Palestinian health care systems
As the Israeli healthcare system begins the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines to the Israeli public, we, the undersigned organizations, urge the Israeli authorities to live up to their legal obligations and ensure that quality vaccines be provided to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and control in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well.
In 2020, Israeli security forces killed 27 Palestinians, seven of them minors. In at least 11 cases, the forces fired unlawfully at Palestinians who posed no risk. Despite the pandemic, Israel ramped up demolitions in the West Bank, leaving 1,006 Palestinians, including 519 minors, homeless. This year, we documented 248 cases of settlers harming Palestinians or their property –with full state backing. This year, too, Palestinians were subjected to a daily, violent occupation routine of incursions, night raids, movement restrictions, and arrests.
On 4 Dec. 2020, during clashes in which Palestinians threw stones at soldiers on the outskirts of al-Mughayir, a sniper fired a two-two bullet – live fire, to all intents and purposes – that hit ‘Ali Abu ‘Alia (15), who was watching from afar and not endangering anyone. The teen was hit in the abdomen from 150 meters away and taken to hospital, where he died of his wounds several hours later. This killing reflects Israel’s open-fire policy in the West Bank, which permits opening live fire even in circumstances where it cannot be justified.
This olive harvest, in October and November, B’Tselem documented 39 incidents in which settlers attacked Palestinian harvesters, barred them from reaching their groves, stole crops, and damaged trees and equipment throughout the West Bank. This could not take place without systemic state support, including soldiers escorting the assailants and sometimes even participating in the attacks, and lack of accountability. This reality will persist as long as it serves Israel’s policy of dispossessing Palestinians to take over West Bank land.
On 24 Nov. 2020, several dozen Palestinians and Israelis held a demonstration in the northern Jordan Valley. One was hit in the abdomen by a “rubber” bullet and put in an ambulance. Soldiers immediately opened the doors and tried to drag him out. A few minutes later, an officer ordered them to let go and he was taken to hospital. The soldiers’ violent conduct and disruption of urgent medical care cannot be considered legal. Along with the suppression of the protest, it is part of the systemic oppression of Palestinians under occupation.
Mu'taz Ja'far Hamad (25) was arrested in May 2019, convicted of hurling a Molotov cocktail a year earlier and sentenced to 20 months. Although it later transpired he had been in prison at the time of the alleged offense, the state refused to revoke his conviction and the parties agreed upon his immediate release after 17 months in prison. The case reveals how the Israeli military justice system routinely operates: flimsy evidence, marginal judicial involvement and disregard for the truth.
Throughout October 2020, the Israeli military harassed the residents of Sabastiya, a Palestinian town northwest of Nablus. Troops periodically blocked the town’s entrances and denied entry to outsiders. Soldiers raided a crowded recreation area, hurling dozens of stun grenades and tear gas canisters and firing “rubber” bullets. One bullet hit Adham a-Sha’er (29) in the head and he lost his eye, in a grave but predictable outcome of this prohibited collective punishment, which is part of an occupation routine of violence and uncertainty.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.