Ahead of the UN Human Rights Council meeting today (Monday, 18 March 2019) on the findings of the UN commission of inquiry into the 2018 Gaza protests, B’Tselem has issued a position paper explaining that Israel’s promise to “investigate” 11 incidents in which protesters were killed is mere propaganda. In a letter, B’Tselem’s director, Hagai El-Ad called upon the head of the commission, Santiago Canton, to reject the tapestry of lies Israel has woven while killing more unarmed protesters.
Israel permits live fire, from some distance, at non-dangerous protestors by the Gaza perimeter fence, an unlawful policy that has caused thousands of casualties. Yet the injury does not end there: Israel has rejected more than 80% of requests by wounded protestors to leave Gaza for treatment in the West Bank or in Israel. Israel is responsible for the injuries and for Gaza’s failing healthcare system after more than a decade of blockade. It follows that Israel is responsible for changing this reality.
Israel has long been implementing a policy aimed at cleansing East Jerusalem of Palestinians, using a variety of unlawful means: prohibiting construction; home demolition; not investing in services and infrastructure; and not allowing spouses from elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza to live with their Jerusalem spouses. In recent years, the number of settlers moving into the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods has risen, with the approval, backing, funding and aid of Israeli authorities. We bring you the testimonies of two Palestinians whose families have recently been targeted by this policy.
On 10 Feb. 2019, police came to the Abu Ryalahs’ home at 4:00 A.M. and arrested Adam, 13. He was taken to a police station and interrogated for hours with no parent present, for allegedly throwing stones. This is not unusual. The Israeli authorities do not treat Palestinian minors in East Jerusalem as entitled to special protections and routinely abuse their rights. This policy, which the law enforcement system would never dare use against other groups in Israel, has been openly employed against hundreds of Palestinian teens a year for decades.
Israel’s unlawful shelling and bombing of civilian homes during Operation Protective Edge destroyed or badly damaged some 18,000 homes, leaving about 100,000 people homeless. After the fighting, families received rent subsidies from international agencies, chiefly UNRWA. In 2018, UNRWA had to end aid due to US funding cuts, even though 20% of the homes still need to be restored and some 13,000 are still homeless. Israel has abdicated any responsibility for the destruction it wreaked on Gaza and has never paid a price for it.
On Sat. Jan. 26, 15-20 armed settlers attacked and fired at residents of al-Mughayir, killing Hamdi Na’asan, 38, and injuring nine others. Security forces were nearby the entire time and did nothing to prevent or stop the attack. This deadly attack, waged in the presence of security forces, is no isolated incident, but part of a policy backed up by the military and the government. The state - through the military and the settlers - works consistently and forcefully to usurp the land of as many Palestinians as possible and encourage them to leave their land "voluntarily."
Every day, Israel determines what the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank will look like – while they, themselves, are barred from taking part in decisions that shape their present and their future. Israel uses its power in a violent, arbitrary fashion, with blatant disregard for the safety, wellbeing and quality of life of the Palestinians who live under its control.
B’Tselem expresses its deep sorrow over the killing of Ori Ansbacher, 19, from the settlement of Tekoa, by a Palestinian resident of Hebron. She was killed on 7 February near Ein Yael in Jerusalem. B’Tselem conveys its deep condolences to the Ansbacher family. One cannot but be shocked by the horrific circumstances of the incident. Assaults on civilians undermine all moral, legal and human principles. B’Tselem strongly condemns any and all such assaults.
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.