Isolating the Gaza Strip from the rest of the world has trapped its residents in a small, closed job market, with no prospects of development and no future. The economic there is at an all-time low, after 12 years under an Israeli-imposed blockade and 19 years that Israel has been working to cut Gaza off from the West Bank and has revoked Gaza residents’ permits to work in Israel. In 2018, unemployment in Gaza reached 52%. Israel could change this reality right now. Instead, it chooses to force Gaza residents to live in a state of hopelessness.
On Sun., 5 May 2019, two soldiers approached Palestinian cars parked near the closed gate the military had installed to keep cars from entering the Jaber neighborhood, Hebron. The soldiers demanded that the cars be moved, and one decided to strike the cars with the barrel of his gun. The soldiers threatened to damage the cars if their owners parked there again. Regardless of whether these actions were based on orders or they were an individual soldier’s initiative, the incident is part of the military’s abusive policy toward Palestinians in Hebron, which is why, again, no one will be held to account.
B’Tselem’s investigation into four killings since the beginning of March 2019 clearly shows the lethal fire was completely unjustified. These cases illustrate, once more, just how little value Israel’s security establishment places on the lives of Palestinians. None of the victims posed a threat to the lives of security personnel. Not one of these incidents should have ended in death. As B'Tselem has cautioned countless times in the past, these are not aberrations, or “bad apples”. These are incidents that occur as part of the routine actions of soldiers and police officers, pursuant to Israel’s dangerous, lethal open-fire policy.
On 8 March 2019, at a demonstration in Beit Sira, Ramallah District, to protest the killing of two Palestinians, an ambulance found itself amidst the clashes. As it tried to drive away, an officer ordered the driver at gunpoint to shut off the engine and hand over the keys. The ambulance was detained for about 15 minutes. Interfering with the work of medical crews or causing them harm is prohibited. There were no grounds for threatening, detaining or endangering the EMTs. These actions by the security forces are but another example of their disregard for the lives of Palestinians, conduct always carried out with impunity.
Israel permits live fire, from some distance, at non-dangerous protestors by the Gaza perimeter fence, an unlawful policy that has caused thousands of casualties. Yet the injury does not end there: Israel has rejected more than 80% of requests by wounded protestors to leave Gaza for treatment in the West Bank or in Israel. Israel is responsible for the injuries and for Gaza’s failing healthcare system after more than a decade of blockade. It follows that Israel is responsible for changing this reality.
“Since the Israeli navy confiscated my hasake (boat) I’ve been out of work and can’t support my family. Things in the Gaza Strip are very bad because of the blockade, and there are no other jobs available. I used to make about 20 shekels a day fishing. That enabled me to buy food and drink for my family. Now our lives are very hard.” Tamer Zayed, Beit Lahiya, 27 August 2018
As of 5 Dec. 2018, for more than a month, the military closed off a road that links Ramallah with villages northwest of the city and the entire area with the Ni’lin checkpoint, which thousands of laborers and businesspeople cross daily into Israel. This forced tens of thousands of Palestinians to use a treacherous alternate road. Israel’s arbitrary closure of roads has a particularly disruptive impact on daily life. The closure was unlawful and constituted deliberate collective punishment of residents whose only “crime” was living there.
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.