On 9-10 Oct. 2020, settlers attacked homes in the village of Burin. Soldiers enabled the assault and fired tear gas and stun grenades at residents who came to their neighbors’ defense. A 7-year-old fainted after inhaling the gas. These incidents are part of a violent reality in which settlers and soldiers join forces to attack Palestinians and their property. The Israeli law enforcement system backs them , ensuring the culprits will not be held accountable and allowing such attacks to recur in order to further its unlawful goals.
At a hearing in the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights this afternoon, B’Tselem’s Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad, spoke about the urgent need for determined European action, which would clarify to Israel that violating the rights of Palestinians will carry consequences: Consequences for human rights violations can be introduced through European foreign policy, by effectively using Europe’s considerable leverage. Clearly, the decision to not do so is a political choice. It undermines Europe’s commitment to human rights and weakens the rules-based international order. It normalizes oppression and dehumanizes Palestinians, because – apparently – no one has to be held accountable for their permanent subjugation.
On 13 Oct. 2020, Israeli bulldozers entered the Gaza Strip and razed 25 dunams of parsley, dill, zucchini, okra, and eggplant crops along the perimeter fence, as well as irrigation systems in these areas. These actions are illegal under international law, which prohibits the destruction of private property in any but exceptional circumstances, which do not apply in this case. These actions also expose the absurdity of Israel’s claim that Gaza is a separate “hostile state entity”, demonstrating that it still controls Gaza.
On 26 Sep. 2020, settlers stoned a family working its land near the village of Qusrah and vandalized 12 olive trees belonging to another family. They stoned two chicken coops on the outskirts of the village, damaged water container s and pipes – causing the death of over 300 chickens and chicks – and tried unsuccessfully to torch a tractor and a truck. They were accompanied by soldiers who fired tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets at villagers who tried to help the victims. Israel routinely backs such violence to further its policy goals.
Israel controls Gaza’s power supply, whether directly by providing electricity or indirectly by controlling fuel flow to the only local power plant. After years of allowing only enough electricity for eight-hour rotations among residents, on 10 Aug. 2020 Israel also cut off the fuel supply as the latest form of collective punishment against Gazans, reducing the power supply to 4 hours a day for three weeks. In testimonies they gave B’Tselem, residents described the daily repercussions and their deep frustration with living in an unbearable reality.
As part of normalizing ties with the United Arab Emirates, Israel has decided not to officially annex the West Bank as yet. De facto, it annexed the West Bank long ago, treating the area as sovereign Israeli territory while acting unilaterally to establish and perpetuate control. The uproar over official annexation has subsided, but the reality remains unchanged: the international community has welcomed Israel back with open arms – legitimizing its continued policy of dispossession with no price.
In an unprecedented move, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to stop issuing visas for foreign nationals employed by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). In light of Israel’s complete control over entry to the Occupied Territory, OHCHR staff require visas issued by Israel. On Tuesday, 20 October 2020, 17 NGO's in Israel sent a letter to Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, demanding that the measures be reversed and that the issuance of visas be renewed in order to enable the office’s ongoing work.
On the evening of 3 Sept. 2020, dozens of settlers blocked a lane on Route 60 near the settlement of Eli. They threw stones at passing Palestinian cars, hitting several passengers, and tried to block their way. Testimonies given to B’Tselem indicate that soldiers who came to the area did nothing to stop the settlers or protect the passengers. Israeli policy has enabled routine violence of this kind by settlers and the military against Palestinians in the West Bank for many years.
The representatives of 17 countries, including EU members as well as other countries, are currently visiting Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, whose residents Israel is seeking to expel. Since 2000 the residents have been waging a legal struggle in Israel's High Court of Justice. Last August, before the last hearing in the case, the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research revealed a document that proved what was already clear: Israel had declared the area a firing zone to facilitate the expulsion of its residents. The judges ignored that information and the residents are currently awaiting their ruling.
In August 2020, Israel bombed targets in the Gaza Strip by air and from the ground, injuring five Palestinians – four minors and a woman – and lightly damaging a school and six homes. Palestinian rocket fire injured one Israeli and lightly damaged two homes. In an Israeli airstrike on 14 August near a residential compound in al-Bureij Refugee Camp, two children aged 3 and 11 were injured in the head and four homes damaged. This policy of bombing densely-populated areas, which has caused thousands of casualties, is immoral and illegal.
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.