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 Mon., 4 March 2019, at around 2:30 A.M., a Palestinian car hit a military jeep. The car also hit an officer, seriously injuring him, and a Border Police officer, who sustained mild injuries. Two of the three Palestinians in the car, Yusef ‘Anqawi and Amir Dar Daraj, were fatally shot and the third was arrested. Video footage of the incident reveals that the two men were shot only four and a half minutes after the collision. This time gap, the IDF Spokesperson’s refusal to explain it, and the confiscation of footage from a nearby security camera all raise grave concerns as to the circumstances in which the two men were killed.
Ahead of the UN Human Rights Council meeting today (Monday, 18 March 2019) on the findings of the UN commission of inquiry into the 2018 Gaza protests, B’Tselem has issued a position paper explaining that Israel’s promise to “investigate” 11 incidents in which protesters were killed is mere propaganda. In a letter, B’Tselem’s director, Hagai El-Ad called upon the head of the commission, Santiago Canton, to reject the tapestry of lies Israel has woven while killing more unarmed protesters.
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.
The death toll from the Israeli military’s unlawful use of live fire against March of Return protestors in Gaza who pose no threat to anyone continues to rise. So far, 195 have been killed, including 35 minors and 2 women. More than 6,000 have been wounded by live fire. The high number of casualties is a direct result of Israel’s criminal open-fire policy along the Gaza fence, which Israel refuses to change despite its lethal outcome. Below is a description of the deadly shooting of a young boy and a woman hit far from the fence, without posing a threat.
On 6 Jan. 2019, after an Israeli bus was fired upon near the Beit El settlement, Israeli security forces went into the nearby town of al-Birah. During the raid, a policeman fired without justification at Fawaz ‘Abed (16) who was peeking out of an alley, fracturing his skull. The forces left without giving him first aid. Firing sponge rounds at minors is completely prohibited, as is firing them at close range at a person’s head, which could prove fatal or cause serious injury. Yet breaches of open-fire regulations go unpunished and the law enforcement system whitewashes such incidents. Just part of the routine of occupation.
B’Tselem’s investigation found that, contrary to official Israeli statements, Barghouti did not try to flee or run anyone over, nor could he have tried: two security vehicles blocked the taxi he was driving at either end, and he was surrounded by some 10 security personnel who shot him point-blank–an operation resembling an extrajudicial killing. Official attempts to sanction the killing in retrospect ensure no one will be held accountable.
On 14 Dec. '18, soldiers came to al-Jalazun R.C. after residents threw stones at them and began chasing uninvolved youths. They shot one - Mahmoud Nakhleh, 18 - in the back as he fled from 80 meters away, and then prevented residents from helping him and dragged him around. Only after 15 minutes did they permit his transferal to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. All the military personnel involved, whether the ground soldiers or the officials who issued a falsified statement to justify the shooting, conveyed disrespect for the injured youth's humanity and confidence that this case will be whitewashed like thousands of others.
In 2018, Israeli security forces killed 290 Palestinians, including 55 minors. Of the casualties, 254 were killed in the Gaza Strip, 34 in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and two within Israel. These incidents are a direct result of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and the top military command, and backed by the judicial system. As long as Israel adheres to this policy, despite its predictable outcomes, the casualties will continue to amass.
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.