B'Tselem has written urgently to the IDF OC Central Command, the Commander of Military Forces in Judea and Samaria, and the Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria, demanding that it be made unequivocally clear to soldiers and commanders in the West Bank that there is an absolute prohibition on shooting live ammunition at stone throwers. The letter follows the killing of two Palestinians and the wounding of dozens by live ammunition fired at stone throwers, and by the unlawful use of crowd control weapons, during clashes and demonstrations against operation "Pillar of Defense" in the past week.
"I was in shock when I discovered that a missile [sic] had fallen right next to the wall surrounding the compound and destroyed it. I saw my grandson Iyad lying dead on the ground. He had been hit by shrapnel from the shell. My other grandson, Suhaib, was lying next to him but he was moving. Also my granddaughter Sarah was lying on the ground. I called an ambulance immediately. I picked up Iyad. We stood there crying for help."
"We live with this routine, and no one thinks it will happen to them. But now, it actually happened to me. It has happened to many people in my community. Mine is not the first house that's been hit. When it happens to someone else, I feel their pain. But it’s different, it’s impossible to really understand it. Suddenly there I am, saying, my goodness – it's happened to me. It unbalances you, makes you irrational. Why? What happened? What is this? What have they done to me?"
"I felt as if I was about to fly through the air, and the window shattered. I saw that the bomb had landed in our yard. I found Samaher in the yard. She had several injuries. I tried to talk to her, but she was already dead. There was nothing I could do. I am left with Mayar, a baby not even two months old. Up to now, she had been nursing."
It has been reported in the media that, since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, members of Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip have killed seven Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel. These reports state that one man was shot to death on Friday, 16 November 2012, and the other six were shot to death on Tuesday, 20 November 2012. The body of one man was tied to a motorcycle and dragged through the streets. Photographs of the bodies, some of which had been mutilated, were published in the press.
According to media reports, on 10 November 2012 armed Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military jeep. Four soldiers were wounded, one seriously. In response, the Israeli military fired four tank shells - in short intervals - at a populated civilian area in eastern Gaza City, about 1.5 kilometers from the Gaza Strip perimeter fence. Four Palestinian civilians, including two minors, were killed. It is doubtful if firing a tank shell at a populated area constitutes a proportional response. An investigation by B'Tselem indicates that, after the first shell was fired, civilians came to aid the injured. Under such circumstances, the military should not have fired additional shells.
In a short piece published in the New York Times, B'Tselem's Executive Director puts the current fighting in the broader context of Israel's closure of the Gaza Strip. A ceasefire must protect both Israelis and Palestinians from rocket-fire, she writes. It must also ensure that Gazans can live a life with dignity.
Initial B’Tselem investigations indicate that 102 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip between the launch of the Israeli military’s “Pillar of Defense” operation on the afternoon of November 14, 2012 and the night of November 19. The investigations indicate that at least 40 of those killed were civilians, among them 19 minors, and 10 women. Three Israelis were killed in the course of the operation up to the night of the 19th, as a result of rocket fire from Gaza by Palestinian militant organizations.
On the morning of November 18, 2012, the Israeli Air Force struck two buildings in Gaza City in which both local and foreign news agencies maintain their offices. Seven employees of Al-Quds TV were injured, two of them seriously. The IDF Spokesman said in a statement that the attacks were directed against the communications infrastructure of Hamas, which it claims Hamas uses to communicate operational orders and disseminate propaganda. B’Tselem is not in a position to determine whether there is any basis for this claim. However, international humanitarian law holds that the media, including those outlets belonging directly to parties to the conflict, are not legitimate military targets.
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.