This publication is comprised of four analyses of the Supreme Court rulings that B’Tselem published on its website throughout 2019, on a range of issues: house demolitions, the rights of persons in interrogation, prisoners and their families, and the use of corpses as bargaining chips. These rulings demonstrate how easily the court accepts the state’s position and engages in legal acrobatics in order to sanction a severe violation of human rights. In essence, these analyses demonstrate how Israel’s Supreme Court does not seek to serve justice, but rather to serve the occupation.
The report 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.
Ahead of the UN Human Rights Council meeting on 18 March 2019, on the findings of the UN commission of inquiry into the 2018 Gaza protests, B’Tselem has issued a position paper explaining that Israel’s promise to “investigate” 11 incidents in which protesters were killed is mere propaganda. In a letter, B’Tselem’s director, Hagai El-Ad called upon the head of the commission, Santiago Canton, to reject the tapestry of lies Israel has woven while killing more unarmed protesters.
The report shows how the justices of Israel’s Supreme Court have validated the state’s planning apparatus in the West Bank, enabling it to continue implementing illegal policies. Time and time again, the justices have ignored the fact that the planning apparatus imposes an almost blanket prohibition on Palestinian construction with the object of enabling Israel to take over as much Palestinian land as possible. The report, Fake Justice: The Responsibility Israel’s High Court Justices Bear for the Demolition of Palestinian Homes and the Dispossession of Palestinians, is based on a careful examination of hundreds of High Court cases, judgments and decisions regarding the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank. In none of these cases did the justices accept the arguments of the Palestinian petitioners.
Since the wave of protests near the Gaza-Israel fence began on 30 March 2018, the Israeli military has killed 32 Palestinians in Gaza, 26 of them demonstrators, and injured more than 1,000 with live fire. Despite the heavy toll on life and limb, all state and military officials refuse to cancel these manifestly unlawful open-fire orders and continue to issue – and justify – them. Ahead of this Friday’s demonstrations (13 April), B’Tselem has issued a position paper on its findings regarding the first day of protest, analyzing the illegality of orders to shoot at unarmed demonstrators who pose no danger to anyone.
Every year, Israel arrests and detains hundreds of Palestinian minors, routinely and systematically violating their rights throughout: during arrest and interrogation, and at the military juvenile court. The minors undergo this process completely alone, cut off from their family and without legal counsel. Israel boasts of changes instituted in the military juvenile justice system in recent years, claiming significant improvement to the protections afforded minors. In practice, these changes have not helped safeguard minors’ rights and are no more than superficial matters of form designed to legitimize the military justice system and the occupation regime.
The report 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.
Joint report with HaMoked, Center for the Defence of the Individual
The report reveals broad, systemic abuse by Israeli authorities of the human rights of hundreds of Palestinian teenagers arrested every year in East Jerusalem. Affidavits were collected from 60 such boys: they described being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, handcuffed, interrogated in violation of their rights, then kept in custody under harsh conditions, sometimes for extended periods of time. These practices are part of Israeli policy, which considers the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem unwanted residents.
International law defines occupation as a temporary situation. After more than 50 years, the reality in the West Bank and Gaza can no longer be considered temporary. It is unreasonable to keep hoping that Israel end this situation of its own volition. In the 51st year of the occupation, B’Tselem wrote an updated version of the document describing the situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The facts are well-known. Equally well-known is that standing idly by means perpetuating the current situation. Determined action is needed now to clearly demonstrate that local and international cooperation with the occupation is over.
Over the past twenty years, Israel has taken measures to guarantee a nearly blanket exemption from its obligation under international law to pay compensation to Palestinians harmed by its security forces. In a new report released today (Wed., 8 March), B’Tselem traces the development of this practice and illustrates how it has led to a major drop in the number of claims for damages Palestinians filed in recent years. Israel’s policy reflects how little value it places on the lives, bodies and property of Palestinians living under its control.
The report B’Tselem published today shows how Israel has been taking over Palestinian rural space, fragmenting it, dispossessing its residents of land and water, and handing over these areas to settlers. The process is illustrated through a case study of three villages in the Nablus District - ‘Azmut, Deir al-Hatab and Salem - telling what these communities have undergone since Israel established the Elon Moreh settlement nearby. Through this case study, the report illustrates a broader policy Israel has been implementing throughout the West Bank for decades, and in which the settlers play a key role.
In the summer of 2014, Israeli security forces killed 1,391 people, including 526 minors, who did not participate in the fighting. The report describes how Israel creates the false appearance of investigations into alleged breaches of law during the fighting, when in fact, those who are truly responsible for the violations, those who designed the policy and issued the orders, were never investigated. The MAG Corps’ investigations focus only on the responsibility of the lower ranks for cases considered “exceptional”, ignoring the fact that scores more nearly identical cases ended with horrifying outcomes. The MAG’s stand, which absolves himself of responsibility and allows decision makers to repeatedly ignore these outcomes is illegal and immoral.
The occupation is 49 years old. That’s 17,898 days. International law defines occupation as a temporary situation, but after nearly 50 years the reality in the West Bank and Gaza can no longer be considered temporary. It is unreasonable to keep hoping that Israel end this situation of its own volition. As the occupation enters its 50th year, B’Tselem presents the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The facts are well-known. Equally well-known is that standing idly by means perpetuating the current situation. Determined action is needed now to clearly demonstrate the termination of local and international cooperation with the occupation.
The report explains the reasons behind B’Tselem’s decision to no longer refer complaints to the military law enforcement system. It was made based on information compiled from hundreds of complaints B’Tselem has filed with the military, dozens of military investigations and many meetings with officials. B’Tselem will continue reporting violations but will no longer help a system which serves as a whitewash mechanism and that also, in advance, absolves senior military and government officials of responsibility for the policy they set out.
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.