Israel uses two kinds of proceedings to imprison Palestinian residents of the West Bank: criminal and administrative. Actually fairly similar, as no genuine legal proceeding is undertaken in either case, the one major difference is that criminal proceedings culminate in a finite prison sentence, whereas administrative detention can be extended indefinitely. In five cases from the past two years, B’Tselem found that the military eliminated even this difference, imposing administrative detention on prisoners on the last day of their court-mandated sentence.
The police harassment against residents of al-‘Esawiyah we reported in July continues, though it has abated somewhat after the school year began. Over the summer, B’Tselem documented ten cases of police brutality against neighborhood residents, three of which are presented here in detail. This police harassment is an inseparable part of Israeli policy throughout East Jerusalem, which seeks to perpetuate a demographic majority for Jews in the city.
A new B’Tselem report released today, Playing the Security Card: Israeli Policy in Hebron as a Means to Effect Forcible Transfer of Local Palestinians, demonstrates how Israel has been using security excuses to implement a policy that has made life unbearable for the Palestinian residents of Hebron’s city center (the Old City), in an effort to drive them from their homes. This policy relies on the extreme regime of separation Israel has been implementing in the city for the past 25 years – ever since the massacre of Palestinians carried out by Baruch Goldstein – so as to enable a small number of settlers to live in the heart of a crowded Palestinian city. This policy violates the prohibition against forcible transfer, which constitutes a war crime.
On 4 August 2019, Israeli soldiers stopped B’Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj’ah at a military checkpoint near the Palestinian village of Khirbet Susiya, the South Hebron Hills, when they saw he had B’Tselem reports in his car. One of the soldiers at the checkpoint claimed that they had to obtain confirmation that the reports do not constitute incitement material. About 10 minutes later, after the soldiers consulted with their superiors, Nawaj’ah was allowed to go.
B’Tselem mourns the death of Rina Shnerb, a 17-year-old Israeli who was killed in an attack by Palestinian last Friday, 23 August 2019. People’s ethnic or religious identity cannot not be cited as justification for an attack. B’Tselem strongly condemns any and all deliberate attacks targeting Israeli or Palestinian civilians. B’Tselem once again calls on the politicians and leaders to act responsibly and avoid fanning the flames of violence and a continuing cycle of bloodshed.
Route closures in West Bank villages have long since become a routine method of oppression Israel uses against West Bank residents, based on allegations of stone-throwing. With a single stroke, the military punishes all of the residents of the village and neighboring ones even though they did nothing. In June-July 2019 the military closed the entrances to two villages, Osarin and Deir Nizam, for weeks. There is no connection between stone-throwing by youths in a village, and harming thousands of people. It is an arbitrary abu¬¬se of power by the military.
In June 2019, settlers vandalized Palestinian property in at least 10 West Bank villages, burning some 1,800 trees and acres of grain fields, uprooting some 700 seedlings and damaging at least 55 cars. This army-backed violence is routine, part of state policy aimed at reducing Palestinian farming and gradually transferring abandoned areas to settlers. As part of this policy, crimes go uninvestigated and criminals are unlikely to be punished. Settlers are well aware of this fact, as are Palestinians who remain defenseless.
Most of the 216 Palestinians killed and thousands injured in the Great March of Return protests up to July 2019 were hit by live fire. However, Israel also makes deadly use of crowd control weapons, including teargas canisters which are not designed to hit people directly. At least 7 Palestinians, including 4 minors were killed by a direct teargas canister hit. Firing teargas canisters directly at protestors is not a stand-alone practice, but part of Israel’s patently unlawful and immoral open-fire policy along the Gaza border.
Israel’s unlawful open-fire policy during the demonstrations along the Gaza perimeter fence – which were upheld by the Supreme Court – have so far resulted in hundreds of Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries. Official sources now admit that they were well aware that people were being killed when even the State did not claim that this is justified. Despite this, no-one has taken action to amend the open-fire regulations. Instead, the military continued with its trial-and-error approach, ignoring the fact that human lives were at stake: people whose lives have been taken, and families who have been permanently devastated.
Since mid-June, as collective punishment, the police have been harassing residents of al-’Esawiyah over alleged stone. On 27 June 2019, when police harassed residents, young men threw stones at them, incl. one – Muhammad ‘Abeid, 21 – who shot firecrackers at them. A policeman shot a live round at ‘Abeid, hitting him in the chest. The police pursued residents who were taking ‘Abeid for medical attention, snatched him and took him to the hospital themselves, where he was pronounced dead. The police harassment of al-’Esawiyah residents, including ‘Abeid’s killing, is an inseparable part of Israel’s policy in East Jerusalem designed to secure a Jewish majority in the city.
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.