On 21 Feb. 2020, during the weekly protest against the closure of the eastern entrance to the village of Kfar Qadum since the settlement of Kedumim was expanded, an army bulldozer pushed boulders, placed on the road to obstruct soldiers, towards residents at high speed. The boulders hit a journalist and 10-year-old boy and damaged an ambulance and private car. The military’s well-documented, violent oppression of these demonstrations forms an illegal formal policy of deterring the residents’ legitimate protest against violation of their rights.
At least 21 March of Return protestors have lost vision in one eye in the past two years, and A 16 year old boy lost vision in both eyes. Their personal tragedies add to the alarming summary of Return Protest casualties: more than 200 killed, 8,000 wounded by live fire, 2,400 by “rubber” bullets, nearly 3,000 by tear gas canisters. Wanton use of crowd control weapons has been a feature of the illegal and immoral open-fire policy Israel has been applying in these demonstrations for nearly two years. Here are three stories of individuals who have lost vision in one eye.
On 30 Jan. 2020, at around 3:00 P.M., soldiers violently arrested two Palestinian boys, 12 and 14, in the village of Beit Ummar and led them away blindfolded and handcuffed. One was released in the evening and the other the next evening. No one informed their parents of their whereabouts. The only objective in holding young boys in this way for any length of time, and leaving their parents in the dark, can be humiliation and intimidation. This is a routine example of the daily violence used by the Israeli occupation against on Palestinians in the West Bank.
As of the end of December 2019, Israel was holding at least 4,544 “security prisoners” in its prisons within Israel and the West Bank. Israel imposes numerous restrictions on family visits to prison – including on the identity of the visitors and the frequency of visits. The visits are organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Every visit to prison involves an entire day of arduous travel and physical and emotional hardship – especially for elderly relatives and children, as seen in the testimonies presented herein.
Since 2015, hardly a month has gone by without Israel holding Palestinian minors in administrative detention; four were being held at the end of 2019. The military justice system regularly violates the rights of detained minors, who face it alone with no explanation of their rights or what lies ahead, while Israel makes a show of protecting their rights. Administrative detention makes this worse as the date of release is unknown. B’Tselem spoke with three minors, two of whom are still in detention and the third was released in early January 2020.
Since the March of Return demonstrations began along the Gaza Strip perimeter fence in 2018, Israel has employed an unlawful open-fire policy against them, shooting unarmed protesters, with horrific results: more than 200 Palestinians killed, 8,000 wounded, including 1,500 minors and 150 women. 155 protesters lost limbs, including 30 minors. 27 demonstrators were paralyzed. Following are the testimonies of five of the wounded.
This plan reveals a world view that sees Palestinians as perennial subjects rather than free, autonomous human beings. A “solution” of this sort, one that fails to ensure the human rights, liberty and equality of all people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and instead perpetuates one side’s oppression and dispossession of the other - is not a legitimate solution. As a matter of fact, it is no solution at all, just a recipe for generations more of oppression, injustice, and violence.
On 27 Nov. 2019, three soldiers came three times to the home of the a-Tabib family in the village of ‘Izbat a-Tabib in Qalqiliya District to remove Palestinian flags the family had hung on the fence of their home. The family hung the flags up again every time. At around 6:30 P.M., the three soldiers returned while the family was sitting in the yard and took the flags down again.
In recent months, B’Tselem has documented more than 10 cases in which soldiers fired live and “rubber” bullets at the legs of Palestinians trying to enter Israel for work through gaps in the Separation Barrier. At least 17 were injured. The authorities willfully overlook the fact that thousands of Palestinians enter Israel without permits every day to work. It is not clear who suddenly decided to shoot at the legs of the workers and why. It is clear that shooting people who pose no danger is illegal.
The dispossession and violence that mark Israel’s policy in the West Bank peak during the olive harvest. This major sector of the Palestinian economy, once a celebration of farming and connection to the land, has for years been overshadowed by violence against Palestinian families, damage to trees and theft of olives. This interactive map details incidents of assault, theft, vandalism, threats and holdups involving soldiers and settlers in villages near Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarm, Qalqiliya and Salfit documented from Sept. to Nov. 2019.
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.