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.
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.
In August 2020, Israel bombed targets in the Gaza Strip by air and from the ground, injuring five Palestinians – four minors and a woman – and lightly damaging a school and six homes. Palestinian rocket fire injured one Israeli and lightly damaged two homes. In an Israeli airstrike on 14 August near a residential compound in al-Bureij Refugee Camp, two children aged 3 and 11 were injured in the head and four homes damaged. This policy of bombing densely-populated areas, which has caused thousands of casualties, is immoral and illegal.
On 5 Aug. 2020, Israeli Border Police officers stopped a car with three Palestinian passengers in the village of al-‘Aqrabaniyah. An officer shot at the windshield, hitting ‘Abd a-Rahman Jbarah in the head. Jbarah lost one eye and may lose sight in the other. The other passengers were injured by glass shards, briefly interrogated and released. Opening fatal fire although the passengers posed no danger is unlawful and unjustifiable, and the investigation reportedly launched is part of the whitewashing mechanism that enables these acts to recur.
On 1 Sep. 2020, during a Palestinian march against expropriation of land from the villages of Shufah and a-Ras to establish the Bustanei Hefetz industrial zone, a military officer pushed a protestor to the ground and kneeled on his neck. When other protestors got the man into a car, the officer smashed the driver’s window and threatened to shoot him. On Monday, 21 September 2020, at around 4:00 A.M., about 15 soldiers raided Khairi Hanun’s home and arrested him. As usual, the military justified this conduct, as part of Israel’s sweeping ban on Palestinians’ right to protest and its automatic backing of security forces’ violence against Palestinians.
On the night of 19 Aug. 2020, Israeli soldiers lying in ambush by a road near the Palestinian village of Deir Abu Mash'al opened live fire at three teens about to set a gas balloon and car tires on fire, killing Muhammad Matar, 16, and injuring the other two. Media reports indicate that the military has decided to prevent "attempts to plant IEDs" in the area with lethal fire. This unlawful, immoral conduct cannot be justified. After demanding the parents identify a picture of their dead son, Israel refused to release his body.
On the night of 9 July 2020, Israeli soldiers chased two Palestinian teens who had thrown a firebomb at a military watchtower by the entrance to Kifl Hares, a village near Salfit. While in pursuit, the soldiers opened fire and injured one of them. B’Tselem’s investigation found that one of the shots killed passerby Ibrahim Abu Ya'qub (34), out for an evening stroll. This shocking case demonstrates the expendability of Palestinian lives for Israel, as the soldiers opened fire regardless of the danger of shooting within a civilian community.
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.