Since Nov. 2017, the military has imposed harsh travel restrictions on the residents of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills. After residents removed roadblocks, ditches were dug to almost entirely prevent travel in and out of the area. Residents now have to walk long distances on foot, sometimes in rough weather, or suffer damage to private cars that cannot, in any case, transport bulk goods. This is another aspect of the Israeli authorities’ harassment of these Palestinians for decades, to pressure them to leave the area.
Following an attack in which Palestinians killed Raziel Shevach near Havat Gilad on 9 Jan., settlers threw stones at cars and homes in the area. The military then barred Palestinian traffic along a section of Route 60 for 3 weeks. The day after the attack, Havat Gilad settlers threw stones at homes in Far’ata, breaking windows. No one was arrested. These repeated settler attacks undermine the sense of personal security of local residents, who are constantly at risk of attack. The complete lack of accountability teaches settlers they may attack Palestinians with impunity.
Following Trump’s declaration regarding Jerusalem, December 2017 saw a rise in Gazan demonstrations near the fence with Israel, during which soldiers killed eight Palestinians with live fire and injured hundreds. B’Tselem found that none of the demonstrators killed were endangering the troops and there was no justification to use live fire at them. The officials who authorized the policy of suppressing demonstrations in Gaza with these measures likely took the predictable dire outcomes into account and bear responsibility for them.
June 2017 saw the tenth anniversary of the Israeli-imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip which has resulted in economic collapse in Gaza and a sharp drop in the standard of living there. Unemployment rates in Gaza are among the highest in the world, with an overall rate of 46.6% in 2017. The situation is far worse among women and young adults. Balah Falestin, a date-processing plant, was established in Gaza in 2016 as part of a financial aid program for women. The plant, funded by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), employs women who are out of work or come from low-income families. The 41 women who work there are paid a salary and receive a portion of the profits. B’Tselem field researcher Khaled al-‘Azayzeh visited the facility in December 2017 and spoke with some of the women working there.
In August 2014, Muhammad Abu Hadaf, then 6, was wounded by an Israeli missile fired near his home in al-Qararah. For more than three years, his family and doctors fought for his life, moving him paralyzed, blind and unable to speak from one hospital to another. On 6 December 2017, at age 9, he died of his injuries. Targeting homes with occupants inside was a horrifying aspect of Israel’s actions in Operation Protective Edge, resulting in the killing of more than 1,000 people who took no part in the fighting, including hundreds of children.
After settlers hiked on Qusrah village land on 30 Nov. 2017, which resulted in the killing of one villager and the wounding of another, Israeli forces clashed with village residents. On 6 and 7 Dec., soldiers raided homes in Qusrah at night and arrested 21 people, including two teens. Large groups of soldiers entered homes, woke families and gathered them in one room, in some cases staying up to two hours. In testimonies given to B’Tselem, residents described terrified children and feeling powerless to prevent this invasion of their privacy.
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.