A new B’Tselem report, Made in Israel, reveals how Israel exploits the West Bank to treat waste – including hazardous waste – generated in Israel. In so doing, Israel abuses its power as an occupying power. It exposes the Palestinian residents – who are excluded from the decision-making process – to environmental and health hazards. This reality is simply one more facet of the exploitative policy Israel has practiced consistently for fifty years now, using Palestinian space and people to further its own interests, as if the West Bank were its sovereign territory.
Faten Ahmad, 26, from Gaza, died of cancer in August. As the treatment she needed was unavailable in Gaza, she asked to receive it in East Jerusalem. Only one of her nine applications for a permit to leave Gaza was accepted. Every year, thousands apply to receive critical medical treatment in Israel or the West Bank. Last year, about half were not answered or were refused. Responsibility for conditions in Gaza, including the level of healthcare there, lies with Israel. Approving these requests is not an act of grace but a legal and moral duty.
In October and November 2017, B'Tselem documented four instances in which Israeli soldiers harassed Palestinian students and teachers crossing through a gate installed between their school and the road leading to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. These restrictions compound the constant harassment of Palestinian residents by security forces and settlers in Hebron. This intolerable reality has driven many Palestinians out of central Hebron and caused a economic collapse of the city center – effectively a form of silent transfer.
After two weeks of restrictions on access to al-Aqsa Mosque following the killing of Israeli police officers there, about 120 Palestinians planned to stay in the mosque overnight on 27 July 2017, fearing they would not be allowed in for Friday prayers the next day. The police raided the mosque and arrested all present. The treatment reported by several arrested minors is consistent with Israel’s well-documented policy of systemically violating the rights of hundreds of Palestinian teens a year, under a formalistic guise of legality.
Since 9 Nov. 2017, the military has restricted movement in four communities in the Masafer Yatta region of the South Hebron Hills, which are home to some 600 people. The roads connecting the communities and leading to the main road have been blocked off, forcing residents to walk a fair distance to the main road. These communities have been suffering incessant harassment for decades: Israel will not allow them to connect to infrastructure and repeatedly demolishes their homes, in an attempt to drive them out of the area.
On Friday afternoon, 13 Oct. 2017, youths threw stones at soldiers in the Bab a-Zawiya area in the center of Hebron. The soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets and stun grenades and violently detained 18 youths, most of them minors. Soldiers routinely enter Hebron, disrupting residents’ lives and arresting youths. No-one explained what was happening to the youths or allowed them to call their families, and they were interrogated without an attorney or family member. This reality forms part of the daily routine of occupation.
Over the past month, the state has informed three Palestinian communities that it intends to expel them from their homes and land. The notification was made by leaving orders on the roadside. Whatever the proceedings used by the state in its attempt to expel Palestinian residents from their homes, the crime is the same: the forcible transfer of a protected population, which amounts to a war crime. This is the case whether the violence used is direct or indirect, physical or administrative. Whether the expulsion is undertaken by force or by creating an intolerable reality that forces the residents to leave their homes and land – the essence is the same.
On 8 Sept. 2017, during a demonstration in the a-Sheikh Jarah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, police officers arrested ‘A.H., 15, assaulted his mother, and released him an hour later. They also arrested his brother M.H., 13, interrogated him, and obtained his signature on a statement written in Hebrew. He was released on bail at about 10:30 PM and spent five days under house arrest. This conduct is consistent with Israel’s policy on the detention of minors in East Jerusalem, which entails the systematic violation of their rights.
During August-October 2017, B'Tselem documented incidents in which soldiers accompanied Jewish worshippers on visits to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, imposing sweeping restrictions on the movement of Palestinian residents. The army uses tear gas against youth who confront it and sometimes shoots them. Israel consistently places the interests of the worshippers over those of Palestinian residents, as part of the violent daily routine it has maintained in the Territories for fifty years.
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.