Residents of the souther Hebron neighborhood of al-Harika have suffered incessant soldier and military-backed settler harassment ever since the settlement of Kiryat Arba was built next door in 1972. In five months this year, we documented five such attacks. These and other cases previously documented by B'Tselem illustrate how fragile, exposed and unpredictable life is in the neighborhood. The intolerable living conditions created by Israel’s policy drive Palestinians to abandon homes and businesses in the neighborhood.
The first full-length documentary film produced by B’Tselem, “Of Land and Bread,” directed by the head of the organization’s video department, Ehab Tarabieh, will premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA). The world premiere will take place tonight, November 24, with additional screenings scheduled later this week as part of the festival.
On 18 Oct. 2019, soldiers unlawfully dragged Qusai al-Ja’ar, 10, from his home while he was helping his father clear building debris, and held his parents back with gunfire and teargas. They drove the boy, handcuffed and blindfolded, to a military post in a settlement and sat him in the yard. When his father arrived, they asked the son about stone-throwing. The treatment of this child is part of the daily routine of control and oppression Israel imposes on all Palestinians in the West Bank as part of its occupation regime.
On 18 Oct. 2019, Ra’d al-Bahri, 25, walked up to a checkpoint in the Tulkarm area, ignoring warnings from a Palestinian and shots fired in the air by a security guard. The guard shot him in the legs from mere meters away and other guards shot and killed him when he attempted to stand up. Al-Bahri was not posing any threat to the guards, who could easily have handled the situation with non-lethal means. Such unjustified shootings are part of a deliberate policy adopted by the Israeli security forces since October 2015.
The MAG Corps has closed three more case files of Palestinians who were killed by soldiers, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit recently notified AP. B’Tselem investigated the incidents soon after they occurred in early 2018, and found that all three killings were unjustified. Nevertheless, and even though the incidents should not have had fatal consequences – not even by the standards of military regulations – the very fact that investigations were undertaken has once again created an illusion of a functioning apparatus for seeking accountability. At the end of the day, these belated so-called investigations ended in whitewashing:
On 9 Sept. 2019, an extended HCJ panel held that the Defence Regulations grant the state the power to hold bodies for negotiation. Israel is currently holding 52 such bodies. President Esther Hayut relied on a circuitous interpretation of the Regulations while treating international law almost as a technicality. Yet again, the justices proved willing to sanction almost any violation of Palestinians’ human rights – thereby not only failing to discharge their duties, but playing a pivotal role in legitimizing the entire occupation.
On 18 Sept. 2019, Nayfeh Ka’abneh, 50, a mother of nine from Ramun, came to Qalandiya Checkpoint and drew a knife from her sleeve. Security guards shot her from some 10 meters away and left her lying for about half an hour before allowing medics to approach and take her to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Live fire has become the go-to response to Palestinians wielding knives, including women and children, and receives automatic backing – even when it is unjustified and the danger could clearly be averted with less injurious means.
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.