As part of Israel’s efforts to take over more land in the West Bank, authorities yesterday destroyed the homes of 44 Palestinians (22 of them minors) and cut off entire communities from the water supply. Some of the homes demolished yesterday were still under construction and not yet occupied. These demolitions are the extreme manifestation of Israel’s policy designed to empty entire areas of the West Bank of their Palestinian residents. Other methods routinely used by Israel are conducting military training in residential and farming areas, denying Palestinians access to land, prohibiting construction, preventing connection to basic infrastructure and confiscating property. With a month left before the end of the year, Israel has demolished the homes of more than 900 Palestinians in 2020 (the figure includes the West Bank and East Jerusalem), compared with 677 in all of 2019.
On 9 Oct. 2020, settlers attacked a home in Burin. Soldiers enabled the assault and fired tear gas and stun grenades at residents who came to the family’s defense. Two settlement security coordinators entered the village in their jeeps and chased four residents. When a young man passed by in his car, one of them attacked him, handcuffed him and “turned him in” to the soldiers.
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.
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.