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.
On 25 May 2020, Israeli media reported that two Palestinians had tried to stab soldiers in the West Bank. B’Tselem’s investigation found that, in fact, a settler had called soldiers claiming that Palestinians were attacking settlers. When the soldiers arrived, they opened fire without warning at farmers who were uninvolved in any alleged clashes, injuring two. The policy of collusion between settlers and the military assists the dispossession of Palestinians, who are afraid to enter their land for fear of violent attacks.
On 13 May 2020, during a military incursion into al-Fawar Refugee Camp, a sniper shot and killed Zeid Qeysiyah (17), who was standing on a rooftop without endangering anyone, far from the clashes between camp residents and soldiers. While the IDF spokesperson stated that the MPIU has launched an investigation, years of experience show that the goal is not to uncover the truth but to serve the MAG Corps’ whitewashing mechanism. This policy allows the lethal, unlawful, immoral shooting of Palestinians to continue unchecked.
In recent weeks, Israeli soldiers have deliberately fired at water tanks in Kafr Qadum during weekly protests held against the closure of the village’s eastern exit. Since April, soldiers have punctured at least 24 tanks on rooftops. This is sheer abuse and constitutes collective punishment for protesting. This conduct is especially grave given the high level of hygiene needed to fight the coronavirus. The shooting continues unbated, indicating support by commanders in the field and conveying disregard for residents’ lives and property.
On Feb. and March 2020, three minors aged 8, 9 and 16 were injured by sponge rounds and one lost an eye. As part of a yearlong harassment campaign in al-‘Esawiyah, the police regularly creates friction with residents and then responds violently. Sponge rounds, which have injured thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem in recent years, can be fatal. Nevertheless, the Israel Police refuses to change its policy and avoids action against the responsible officials. As always, no one will be held accountable.
On 20 Feb. 2020, four Palestinian teens were driving when a military jeep came towards them. To avoid crashing, the driver swerved and hit a boulder. The soldiers got out, fired at the car and beat two of the boys. One was rushed to hospital and the others detained and interrogated. The military quickly declared a car-ramming attack but released the teens with no action. The fact soldiers can so easily shoot Palestinians and use false claims as justification raises questions about cases in which no witnesses are left to refute the claims.
On 23 Feb. 2020, soldiers shot two Islamic Jihad operatives near the perimeter fence in the southern Gaza Strip, killing one and wounding the other. The military claims it fired after the two tried to plant explosives near the fence. The wounded man managed to crawl away, and soldiers shot and injured two men who tried to evacuate the body, though they posed no danger to anyone. A military bulldozer then damaged the body before scooping and snatching it. This wanton, grotesque behavior defies any conceivable moral or legal principle.
On 7 Feb. 2020, during a protest by the Separation Barrier near Qaffin, Palestinian youths lit tires and threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers on the other side of the barrier. At one point, a soldier fired a live round from a jeep despite no danger to the force, striking Bader Nafleh, 19, in the neck. Experience shows that no one will be held accountable – the shooter, his commander, or those who gave the orders enabling the shooting. As long as the whitewashing policy continues, so will lethal, illegal shooting of Palestinians.
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.