On the evening of 3 Sept. 2020, dozens of settlers blocked a lane on Route 60 near the settlement of Eli. They threw stones at passing Palestinian cars, hitting several passengers, and tried to block their way. Testimonies given to B’Tselem indicate that soldiers who came to the area did nothing to stop the settlers or protect the passengers. Israeli policy has enabled routine violence of this kind by settlers and the military against Palestinians in the West Bank for many years.
The representatives of 17 countries, including EU members as well as other countries, are currently visiting Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, whose residents Israel is seeking to expel. Since 2000 the residents have been waging a legal struggle in Israel's High Court of Justice. Last August, before the last hearing in the case, the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research revealed a document that proved what was already clear: Israel had declared the area a firing zone to facilitate the expulsion of its residents. The judges ignored that information and the residents are currently awaiting their ruling.
In August 2020, Israel bombed targets in the Gaza Strip by air and from the ground, injuring five Palestinians – four minors and a woman – and lightly damaging a school and six homes. Palestinian rocket fire injured one Israeli and lightly damaged two homes. In an Israeli airstrike on 14 August near a residential compound in al-Bureij Refugee Camp, two children aged 3 and 11 were injured in the head and four homes damaged. This policy of bombing densely-populated areas, which has caused thousands of casualties, is immoral and illegal.
On 5 Aug. 2020, Israeli Border Police officers stopped a car with three Palestinian passengers in the village of al-‘Aqrabaniyah. An officer shot at the windshield, hitting ‘Abd a-Rahman Jbarah in the head. Jbarah lost one eye and may lose sight in the other. The other passengers were injured by glass shards, briefly interrogated and released. Opening fatal fire although the passengers posed no danger is unlawful and unjustifiable, and the investigation reportedly launched is part of the whitewashing mechanism that enables these acts to recur.
In late August 2020, dozens of Israeli soldiers again raided the home of the extended Abu Hashhash family at night, assaulting several members. They severely beat father of four Iyad Abu Hashhash (45) and carried him away on a stretcher. His relatives later learned he had contracted the coronavirus in an ISA interrogation facility and been quarantined, and then put in administrative detention for four months. Raiding Palestinian homes at night and waking entire families, including young children, is part of the violent occupation routine.
On 1 Sep. 2020, during a Palestinian march against expropriation of land from the villages of Shufah and a-Ras to establish the Bustanei Hefetz industrial zone, a military officer pushed a protestor to the ground and kneeled on his neck. When other protestors got the man into a car, the officer smashed the driver’s window and threatened to shoot him. On Monday, 21 September 2020, at around 4:00 A.M., about 15 soldiers raided Khairi Hanun’s home and arrested him. As usual, the military justified this conduct, as part of Israel’s sweeping ban on Palestinians’ right to protest and its automatic backing of security forces’ violence against Palestinians.
On the night of 19 Aug. 2020, Israeli soldiers lying in ambush by a road near the Palestinian village of Deir Abu Mash'al opened live fire at three teens about to set a gas balloon and car tires on fire, killing Muhammad Matar, 16, and injuring the other two. Media reports indicate that the military has decided to prevent "attempts to plant IEDs" in the area with lethal fire. This unlawful, immoral conduct cannot be justified. After demanding the parents identify a picture of their dead son, Israel refused to release his body.
In August 2020, settlers attacked homes and property in ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah several times, escorted by soldiers who did nothing to protect the Palestinians. Residents of the village, surrounded by settlements, have been suffering from repeated settler assaults for years. Among many occurring throughout the West Bank, these attacks form part of an established Israeli policy that does not deem settler violence against Palestinians as criminal or illegitimate acts. Instead, Israel gives settlers near-full backing, as they serve its purposes.
On 12 August 2020, Israel reduced southern Gaza’s fishing range from 15 to eight nautical miles, officially because explosive-laden balloons had been launched from Gaza into Israel. On 16 August 2020, Israel banned access to the Gaza sea, and on 2 September 2020, reopened the fishing zone to 15 nautical miles. This restriction is one of several that Israel has imposed for years on the Gazan fishing industry, leading to its near collapse and subjecting fishermen to perilous working conditions and abject poverty. In the following testimonies, wives and mothers of fishermen and fishmongers describe life under the restrictions.
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.