On 23 July 2017, soldiers shot N.R., 13, after he went through an opening in the Separation Barrier near Jayus. He was hospitalized in Israel for a month and underwent three operations. For the first eight days, soldiers guarding his room prevented his parents from staying with their son and briefly tied him to the bed. His parents were not present when he was interrogated and when his detention was extended. This grave conduct of the security forces is far from unusual, reflecting both declared policy and norms that have developed.
On 10 March 2017 Palestinians and Israeli security forces clashed in Silwad. A Border Police officer fired a sponge round, injuring D.T., 17. The officer then hit him in the head with a gun. D.T., who lost consciousness, was taken to Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem, where he underwent surgery for a cranial fracture and subdural hematoma. During his 12 days in Hadassah Hospital, his parents were not allowed to approach him, and he was kept in restraints. While shocking, this case is not at all unusual, nor is the fact that no one will be held accountable, guaranteeing these injustices will continue as long as the occupation does.
During recent events, Israel has repeatedly demonstrated sweeping disregard for the lives and security of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, and for their right to maintain a normal routine. The Israel Police treated Palestinian residents as if they were enemy soldiers, rather than as a civilian population for whose wellbeing and security it is responsible. This conduct is part of the way Israel controls East Jerusalem. Nothing but comprehensive and substantive change to this regime of control, and to the reality in Jerusalem, will ensure the human rights of all the people living in the city.
In two incidents in May 2017, Israeli security forces fired tear gas at civilians and homes in the West Bank, injuring a toddler and a child. This is the direct result of sending security forces into Palestinian villages with no justification. “Non-lethal crowd control measures” put babies, children, the elderly and patients at risk. When used permissively and indiscriminately, with no need and disregarding the danger involved, they may cause severe and completely unjustifiable injuries.
On 15 May 2017, Israeli navy soldiers shot and killed Muhammad Baker, 25, from a-Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza. B'Tselem’s investigation found the soldiers opened fire when Muhammad’s boat was 3 nautical miles off the coast within the zone in which the military permits Gazans to fish. As long as this routine continues, innocent fishermen will continue to risk arrest, injury or death to make a living. No one in Israel will be held accountable for the attacks and the usual whitewashing formalities will be applied.
On 12 May 2017, during a protest against settlers’ takeover of a-Nabi Saleh village land, a sniper fired live ammunition at Sabaa ‘Obeid, 22, killing him. ‘Obeid - who had been throwing stones at soldiers from 80 meters away and posed no real threat - was shot as he was moving away. Regulations and officials both state that lethal gunfire is not to be used under such circumstances and is limited to cases of mortal danger and as a last resort. In practice, soldiers operate under other orders, using lethal measures in a variety of circumstances, resulting in injuries and fatalities.
On 7 May 2017, Fatimah Hjeiji, 16, approached a metal barrier near Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem. Hjeiji stopped, stood, and brandished a knife at 5 police officers on the other side of the barrier, who then fatally shot her. The Police District Commander called the shooting legal and appropriate, ignoring the facts of the case which indicate Hajij posed no threat to the officers. The continued policy of fatally shooting Palestinians who do not pose a mortal danger illustrates the discrepancy between accepted norms prohibiting such use and frequent shoot-to-kill incidents which are encouraged by senior officials and public sentiment.
On 21 March 2017, two Gazan men and a minor went from Rafah towards the perimeter fence, hoping to enter Israel for work. Around midnight, before they tried to cross the border and although they posed no danger, the military fired a shell at them. They fled, but another shell killed Yusef Abu ‘Athrah (15) and injured one man. The military's statement, that the suspicion the three had been trying to plant an explosive device on the fence was investigated after the fact, attests to a ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ policy.
In 2016, Israeli security forces killed 101 Palestinians, incl. 31 minors – 90 in the West Bank (incl. East Jerusalem), 8 in Gaza, and 3 in Israel. Ten women and one female minor were among the casualties. Seventy-five (74%) were killed in attempted, alleged or real assaults on Israelis; another 17 (17%) were killed in clashes, protests, and stone-throwing incidents. The responsibility for these deaths lies with the top levels of Israel’s military and government, which allow this open-fire policy and the subsequent lack of accountability.
On 29 Mar. 2017 Border Police officers killed Siham Nimer, 49, as she approached a police barrier brandishing scissors. Given that they were behind the barrier and in protective gear, she likely could have been overpowered without lethal gunfire. Her son, Mustafa, 26, was killed in Sept. 2016 in Shu’fat R.C., also by police who were quick to shoot. Shooting to kill is permissible only in cases of mortal danger. There is a chilling gap between this principle and the present reality in which unjustified shoot-to-kill incidents are a frequent occurrence and are encouraged by public sentiment.
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.