Route closures in West Bank villages have long since become a routine method of oppression Israel uses against West Bank residents, based on allegations of stone-throwing. With a single stroke, the military punishes all of the residents of the village and neighboring ones even though they did nothing. In June-July 2019 the military closed the entrances to two villages, Osarin and Deir Nizam, for weeks. There is no connection between stone-throwing by youths in a village, and harming thousands of people. It is an arbitrary abu¬¬se of power by the military.
In June 2019, settlers vandalized Palestinian property in at least 10 West Bank villages, burning some 1,800 trees and acres of grain fields, uprooting some 700 seedlings and damaging at least 55 cars. This army-backed violence is routine, part of state policy aimed at reducing Palestinian farming and gradually transferring abandoned areas to settlers. As part of this policy, crimes go uninvestigated and criminals are unlikely to be punished. Settlers are well aware of this fact, as are Palestinians who remain defenseless.
Most of the 216 Palestinians killed and thousands injured in the Great March of Return protests up to July 2019 were hit by live fire. However, Israel also makes deadly use of crowd control weapons, including teargas canisters which are not designed to hit people directly. At least 7 Palestinians, including 4 minors were killed by a direct teargas canister hit. Firing teargas canisters directly at protestors is not a stand-alone practice, but part of Israel’s patently unlawful and immoral open-fire policy along the Gaza border.
Israel’s unlawful open-fire policy during the demonstrations along the Gaza perimeter fence – which were upheld by the Supreme Court – have so far resulted in hundreds of Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries. Official sources now admit that they were well aware that people were being killed when even the State did not claim that this is justified. Despite this, no-one has taken action to amend the open-fire regulations. Instead, the military continued with its trial-and-error approach, ignoring the fact that human lives were at stake: people whose lives have been taken, and families who have been permanently devastated.
Since mid-June, as collective punishment, the police have been harassing residents of al-’Esawiyah over alleged stone. On 27 June 2019, when police harassed residents, young men threw stones at them, incl. one – Muhammad ‘Abeid, 21 – who shot firecrackers at them. A policeman shot a live round at ‘Abeid, hitting him in the chest. The police pursued residents who were taking ‘Abeid for medical attention, snatched him and took him to the hospital themselves, where he was pronounced dead. The police harassment of al-’Esawiyah residents, including ‘Abeid’s killing, is an inseparable part of Israel’s policy in East Jerusalem designed to secure a Jewish majority in the city.
On the morning of Monday, 22 July 2019, the Israeli authorities began demolishing buildings in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Humos, the eastern extension of Zur Baher in East Jerusalem. The move came after Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected the residents’ appeal, and ruled there was no legal barrier to prevent the demolitions. Israel is planning to demolish a total of 13 buildings, including at least 44 housing units, which are in various stages of construction. Two families were already living in the buildings demolished today. Their 17 members, including 11 minors, are now homeless. Some of the structures slated for demolition were built in Area A, where the Palestinian Authority is responsible for planning and building, and had issued the required permits.
B'Tselem investigation published today proves a soldier fired live ammunition, hitting ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, 9, in the head. A-Shteiwi was injured last week while playing in the entrance to a home in Kafr Qadum during the weekly demonstration in the village. Now hospitalized in critical condition, he is the latest victim of the reckless open-fire policy that allows soldiers to use live fire even when neither they nor anyone else is in any danger.
A week after soldiers, Border Police officers and settlers harassed the Abu Shamsiyeh family, on 16 June 2019, ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh suffered a sunstroke. In the middle of the night, his wife called an ambulance for him but the Israeli military would not allow it into the neighborhood. After a lengthy delay, the EMT staff decided to evacuate Abu Shamsiyeh on foot, a task accomplished only after further argument with the soldiers. This case demonstrates contempt for the health of a patient in need of urgent medical care and clearly illustrates the extent to which Israel controls all aspects of Palestinians’ lives in Hebron. It shows how, for Palestinians, even the most commonplace tasks involve difficulties and uncertainty and, above all, no control over the situation.
Since 1 July 2017, Israel has banned family visits with 100 or so Hamas prisoners from Gaza it is holding in its own territory in defiance of international law. Four prisoners petitioned the HCJ against the ban in August 2017. In June 2019, the court rejected their petition, accepting the wrongful notion that human beings may be used as a means to an end – in this case, pressuring Hamas to return Israeli civilians and the remains of Israeli soldiers it is holding, and completely ignoring the true motivation for the ban, which is sheer revenge.
About a month ago, we wrote along with six other human rights organizations based in Israel to Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, president of the Bundestag (the German federal parliament), to express serious concern regarding the recent motion adopted by the Bundestag that condemns the BDS movement and even wrongfully equates it with antisemitism. Israeli officials welcomed the motion after lobbying for it as part of a campaign to silence criticism of Israel's policy of occupation, human rights violations, and shrinking space for civil society.
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.