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.
Today, 20 Nov. 2016, Civil Administration officials handed evacuation orders to 14 families in Ibziq, north of Tubas. The families, 78 people, including 42 minors are to evacuate from Monday early afternoon to Tuesday morning, and for the same time Tuesday to Wednesday. They will have to spend two nights outside, away from home. The military has been training extensively throughout the Jordan Valley in recent weeks, turning out scores of residents in Palestinian communities in these areas, which Israel defines as firing zones.
In July 2016 Israel demolished 13 homes in Qalandia al-Balad, close to the Separation Barrier. Since Qalandia and other neighborhoods were cut off by the Barrier, the Jerusalem Municipality has virtually halted the supply of municipal services and rarely enforces building laws. As a result, Palestinians from East Jerusalem have been attracted to the area. In a rare exception to its usual policy, the Jerusalem Municipality has decided to provide a service in the area: house demolitions.
Since 2010, Israel has severely restricted access to the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa, which lies northwest of Jerusalem, in order to prevent Palestinians from entering Jerusalem. Instead of building the Security Barrier along the Green Line in the area, Israel has chosen to deny villagers a normal routine, resulting in severe effects on employment, education, basic services and communal ties. The choice to impose these draconian measures reflects absolute prioritization of Israeli interests over the protection of local residents’ rights.
Muhyi a-Din a-Tabakhi, a 10-year-old boy from a-Ram, was critically injured by a black sponge round fired by Border Police. He died shortly after. The officers were pursuing youths who were throwing stones at them. A-Tabakhi is the second Palestinian killed by this type of ammunition and the latest in a long line of those injured by it. Black sponge rounds are dangerous and it has been found repeatedly that police officers use them in breach of regulations. Therefore, this ammunition cannot be considered a “non-lethal means” and its use must be limited to cases of mortal danger.
The occupation is 49 years old. That’s 17,898 days. International law defines occupation as a temporary situation, but after nearly 50 years the reality in the West Bank and Gaza can no longer be considered temporary. It is unreasonable to keep hoping that Israel end this situation of its own volition. As the occupation enters its 50th year, B’Tselem presents the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The facts are well-known. Equally well-known is that standing idly by means perpetuating the current situation. Determined action is needed now to clearly demonstrate the termination of local and international cooperation with the occupation.
On 16 Dec. 2015 approval to deposit a plan for review was given for a plan to build 891 residential units south of the neighborhood of Gilo, which is on West Bank land unilaterally annexed to Jerusalem. The southward expansion lays the groundwork for annexation by creating a contiguous bloc between Gilo and the settlement of Har Gilo. The Cremisan Valley, an area under the plan that serves Palestinians as a vital source of income and for recreation, will apparently become a free public space for the residents of Gilo and Har Gilo. This belies the security justification for the barrier’s route accepted by the High Court, and exemplifies Israel’s annexationist policy.
On 30 Dec. the two soldiers who shot and killed Samir ‘Awad near the Separation Barrier in Jan. 2013 were indicted. The facts described in the indictment are very similar to those found by B’Tselem’s inquiries, clearly indicating the shooting was unjustified and an outright breach of the open-fire regulations. The disparity between the soldiers’ egregious conduct and the minor charges being brought against them beggars belief, and sends security personnel in the OPT a clear message that the system will allow them to continue to operate with impunity, even if they kill Palestinians who pose no danger and even if they breach regulations.
On 13 Nov. 2015, after a demonstration against the Separation Barrier in Budrus, several Palestinians approached the barrier. Soldiers emerged from an ambush and grabbed Lafy ‘Awad. They beat him as he tried to break free and his friends threw stones at the soldiers. He began to flee and a soldier shot him in the back, killing him. Three years ago soldiers killed Samir ‘Awad in almost identical circumstances; only recently was a decision made to try them on minor offenses. The policy of allowing armed ambushes against stone-throwers continues to take lives, permitting unjustified use of lethal force and needless death.
In Aug. 2015, Israel renewed construction work on the Separation Barrier near the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, seizing private land and uprooting ancient olive trees. This creates facts on the ground although legal proceedings are still underway. The barrier will sever residents from their farmland, which provides vital income and rare recreation, block expansion of Beit Jala, damage ties with monasteries in the Cremisan Valley that service the community, and complete the effective annexation to Israel of large tracts of last.
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.