The principle of proportionality prohibits an attack if the expected harm to civilians is excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage. As its complicated implementation relies on assessments and partial knowledge, and on balancing virtually incomparable elements, moral considerations also come into play. The interpretation Israel offers for this principle is unreasonable, legally erroneous and morally bankrupt. Israel may lay the blame on Hamas, yet its bombs are the ones killing civilians and it bears sole responsibility.
Bombing residential towers - that do not constitute a military target and make dozens of families homeless - is a war crime. The architects and leaders of the Israeli apartheid regime, who do not consider Palestinians as equal human beings deserving full human rights, should be prosecuted for this war crime.
Palestinian armed groups have been routinely and intolerably firing rockets at Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. Since Monday, 10 May, Hamas expanded the range of these attacks and fired rockets at cities in the center of Israel, followed shortly by Islamic Jihad. These criminal acts have resulted in deaths and injuries of Israeli and other civilians in recent days, including the killing of a five year-old boy. These war crimes cannot be excused, justified or explained. The ICC prosecutor announced that her office will investigate these criminal acts and B’Tselem hopes that all those responsible will be held accountable.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports 139 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza so far, including 39 minors and 22 women. Entire families were wiped out when Israel bombed their homes. Reports that some deaths were caused by rockets launched from Gaza are being investigated. While the ICC Prosecutor is investigating suspected war crimes committed in 2014, Israel is now implementing the same policy. The international community must use whatever leverage it has to force Israel to change its policy before it claims more lives.
The current violence throughout Israel/Palestine is an outcome of the apartheid regime that controls the entire area. Under this regime, about half of the people who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – Jews – are able to lead full lives and enjoy protection of their human rights, while the other half – Palestinians – cannot. We are all entitled to live under a regime that ensures justice and quality for both peoples. We all desire life. For every single one of us.
Around 2:00 P.M. on 9 April 2021, ‘Iz a-Din al-Batsh (14) was working at a store in central Hebron when he was hit in the eye by a “rubber” bullet fired by a soldier during clashes with stone-throwers nearby. About five hours after he was taken to hospital in Hebron, and after his transfer to a hospital elsewhere was delayed, his relatives demanded soldiers at Bab a-Zawiya checkpoint allow him passage for treatment in Israel. They refused. After midnight he was finally taken to hospital in East Jerusalem, where his eye was surgically removed.
On Sunday, 2 May 2021, around 8:30 A.M., Fahmeyeh al-Hrub (60), from Husan, walked slowly towards soldiers at the Gush Etzion junction, holding a knife. When she did not respond to their calls to stop or a shot fired in the air, she was shot from a distance where she posed no danger to them. She was later pronounced dead at a Jerusalem hospital. This conduct is a true reflection of the open fire policy in such cases which allows lethal fire at any Palestinian holding a knife, regardless of the level of danger they pose.
In March 2020, Israel announced that as part of its fight against the coronavirus, it would reduce even further the number of Palestinians permitted to leave Gaza for medical care. Permit numbers also dropped as patients feared travel during the pandemic and the PA halted coordination with Israeli authorities. Israel, which is responsible for the dire state of Gaza’s healthcare system and for holding Gazans effectively imprisoned, avoided its duty to provide solutions and allow sick residents access to the care they need.
After midnight on 6 April 2021, soldiers set up a flying checkpoint on the road from Bir Nabala to al-Jib and opened fire at Osama and Sumayah Mansur, who were driving back from the doctor, killing Osama. B’Tselem’s investigation found that despite the military’s announcement of a car-ramming attack, the driver had stopped at the checkpoint and, after a brief argument, resumed driving in a lane with no soldiers. Based on years of experience, the MPIU investigation launched is likely to serve merely as a fig leaf to whitewash the killing.
Israel’s regime of apartheid and occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end this regime, 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.