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B'Tselem in brief - August 2017

School girls in Khan al-Ahmar community. Photo by Faiz Abu Rmeleh, Activestills

 

Dear שירלי,

According to Haaretz, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told journalists in late August that plans for the implementation of a measure virtually unheard of since 1967 were months away from completion. These are plans for the eviction: Eviction and demolition of two whole West Bank Palestinian villages. Together, the two villages, Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills, and Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, are home to hundreds of people, about half of them minors.

Demolishing these communities would constitute the forcible transfer of protected persons, a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention. A forcible transfer occurs whenever residents do not leave of their own free will – for instance, when the authorities make living conditions impossible. This is exactly what Israel has been doing to these and to many other Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank for years -  forcing residents to live without connections to electricity or running water and under the constant threat of demolition. Still, demolishing an entire community would be an extreme escalation of this already abusive policy.

Crimes are usually committed far from the public view, and effort is put into covering them up. Seasoned politicians do not usually declare their criminal intentions, especially in on-the-record conversation with journalists. The fact that Minister Lieberman did so attests to his confidence that the planned evictions will receive the full backing similar actions – albeit less extreme – have always been given here, including the disgraceful support of the High Court. This is an official policy and is not seen as a crime.

For that reason, last week we sent a letter to the prime minister, the defense minister, the justice minister, the chief of staff and the head of the Civil Administration cautioning that demolishing an entire community would constitute a war crime for which they would bear personal liability. This was an unusual step for B’Tselem to take: we do not use the term lightly and it rarely appears in our publications. Yet the extreme circumstances demand it.

For many years, B’Tselem has been advocating for the Palestinian communities that are struggling against Israel’s de facto expulsion policy in Area C. We are determined to do everything in our power to help the residents of Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar escape expulsion, and ensure Israel avoids committing a war crime.

Sincerely yours,

Hagai El-Ad
Executive Director
B'Tselem

 

 

We thank the 317 people who donated $11,580 to B’Tselem in August.

 

 

 

·        

As school year begins Israeli authorities demolished three educational facilities.

On 22 August 2017, Israeli authorities demolished the school at the community of Jub a-Dib, southeast of Bethlehem, leaving 80 pupils without an educational facility. In Abu a-Nuwar, on 9 August 2017, the Civil Administration confiscated solar panels donated by the international community, that provided electricity to the school and kindergarten. On 21 August 2017, Civil Administration personnel accompanied by around fifty soldiers, Police and Border Police officers arrived at the Badu al-Baba community which is located near al-‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem. They dismantled and confiscated a pre-fab that had been placed there around three weeks prior, to serve as a kindergarten for 25 local children aged 4-6, who do not have an alternative educational facility.

 

The demolition of educational facilities before the start of the school year epitomizes the administrative cruelty and systematic harassment by the authorities designed to drive Palestinians from their land.

 

 

 

·        

Under the blazing summer sun: Israel confiscated water tanker serving Palestinian communities that Israel refuses to hook up to water grid.

On 8 August 2017 Israel’s Civil Administration confiscated a tanker which supplied water to the communities of Msafar Yatta (Greater Yatta; Firing Zone 918) in the southern Hebron Hills, citing “entering a firing zone”. The truck, owned by a resident of Yatta, was carrying 20,000 liters of water and is the only truck of its size serving the communities in the area. The truck managed to supply water only to the community of Khirbet al-Fakhit, one of twelve communities in the area Israel has been endeavoring to displace and refuses to hook up to the water grid. Soldiers then confiscated the truck. Israeli security forces kept the B’Tselem field researcher who was on site from filming the confiscation.

 

 

·        

Medical crews assaulted, care for wounded man disrupted, and patients terrorized during police raid of al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem.

On 21 July ‘17, dozens of Israeli police raided al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem seeking to arrest a critically injured Palestinian. Armed officers entered various wards. Officers tried to seize the man’s bed on the way to surgery and pushed medical staff and persons protecting him. The man died meanwhile. 

Such violent, life-endangering conduct cannot be justified. The police can use other means, without harming staff or patients or violating the convention that medical staff and clinics are a safe haven.

 

 

 

·        

Settlers verbally abuse Palestinian woman in Hebron and threaten her with violence for hours, in the presence of Israeli soldiers and police.

On Thursday, 24 August 2017, settlers from Kiryat Arba used a loudspeaker system to verbally abuse Palestinian residents of the al-Hariqah neighborhood in Hebron, using offensive language and insulting Islam. When the settlers noticed the woman, they turned their abuse towards her, threatening violence and using racist and obscene language, including descriptions of extreme sexual violence. Although the threats were explicit and the swearing constituted severe sexual harassment, Israeli security forces who were present allowed the settlers to continue undisturbed, as is usually the case.

 

 

 

  • Israeli soldiers shoot and kill 16-year-old Palestinian in Gaza – the 24th protester to be killed near Gaza perimeter fence since Oct. 2015.

On 28 July 2017, Gazan youths held their weekly demonstration along the fence with Israel, east of al-Bureij RC. Soldiers fired teargas at them, and live fire at the legs of those who approached the fence. ‘Abd a-Rahman Abu Hamisah, 16, who was climbing a hill several dozen meters south of the demonstration, was shot and killed by soldiers from some 50 meters away, although he posed no danger. Two youths who followed him were shot and injured. Abu Hamisah is the 24th Palestinian – and third minor – to be killed since the protests began in 2015.

 

 

 

  • Border Police assault a father and son from East Jerusalem, break the 58-year-old father’s arm and arrest him and his 15-year-old son.

On 13 June 2017, Border Police knocked on a door in Silwan, East Jerusalem. When no one answered, they demanded the brother, who lives next door, provide them with keys. An argument ensued; Border Police then assaulted the man and his son, broke the man’s arm, and arrested both father and son. This is another staggering example of how unbearably easy it is for police to abuse East Jerusalem residents: arresting a father and young son, keeping the man for several hours and the son overnight, finally releasing him to a five-day house arrest on a NIS 1,000 bail – all without cause in the first place.

 

 

 

  • Photo blog: Innocents punished - Israeli military demolishes three homes and seals another, Ramallah District.

On Thurs. 10 August 2017, the Israeli military demolished the homes of three Palestinian families and sealed the home of another. The homes in question were in the Ramallah District: in the town of Silwad and in the village of Deir Abu Mash’al. Members of the households had committed car-ramming and shooting attacks earlier this year. The military’s actions have rendered homeless 18 people (incl. seven minors) who were neither suspected nor accused of any wrongdoing. Home demolitions are morally repugnant and are prohibited under international law. All photos taken by B'Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad.

 

 

 

  • Israeli soldiers violently remove Palestinian teens from Hebron street to enable settler march, and later assault one again.

On 29 May 2017, the military ordered Palestinians in the Jaber neighborhood of Hebron to close shops to allow for a settler procession. Muhammad (14) and Baraa (17) Jaber were by a grocery store near their home when soldiers ordered the shopkeeper to close down. When the brothers refused an order to go home they were violently removed, as captured on video. Later, the soldiers again assaulted Muhammad on his way to a bicycle repair shop. This thuggish conduct is unjustified and illustrates the regular abuse of power permitted to soldiers.

 

 

 

  • Settler violence: Cars torched and hate graffiti sprayed in Um Safa.

On 9 Aug. 2017, at 2:30 A.M., Wasim Bader was in his living room in the village of Um Safa, north of Ramallah, when he noticed a car stop close by and park facing the nearby settlement of Ateret. Within moments, he saw his own car go up in flames and three persons in civilian clothing get into the parked car and drive away. It transpired that another car in the village had been torched and hate graffiti sprayed. The Israel Police inspected the scene, but experience shows that the odds of the perpetrators being brought to justice are very slim.

 

 

  • Israel’s security forces punish residents of the village of Kobar for an attack perpetrated by a Kobar resident, July-August 2017.

Ever since the attack nearly three weeks ago in the settlement of Halamish in which a Palestinian from Kobar stabbed four members of one family – killing three and wounding one, the military has been collectively punishing the village. For four days, strict travel restrictions were imposed, troops raided homes, arrested residents and seriously beat one man. This morning (9 Aug.) the military surrounded Kobar, closed off two entrances, made arrests and raided homes, leading to clashes with residents. Collective punishment following attacks has become standard policy, with the military cynically abusing its power to mistreat civilians. It is a measure that is morally and legally indefensible.

 

 

·        

East Jerusalem: Construction is “unlawful”, demolition is by the book.

On Tues., 15 August 2017, Jerusalem Municipality employees went with a Border Police escort to four East Jerusalem neighborhoods where they demolished dwellings and other structures, citing construction without a permit as pretext. All the while, the municipality does whatever is in its power to keep Palestinians from building lawfully. In Silwan, they demolished a residential building which was home to eight people, including six minors, in al-‘Esawiyah - a two-story building, in Beit Hanina a car-sale lot and in Jabal al-Mukabber a tire-repair shop.

 

 

  • Israeli military kills two Palestinian youths in Jenin Refugee Camp.

Early on 12 July 2017, Israeli troops entered Jenin R.C. to arrest a resident. Violent clashes ensued. After two hours, soldiers who had laid an ambush, shot and killed two youths, although they did not pose a threat to the soldiers’ lives. This is not the first time the military has ambushed and shot stone-throwers. The fact that no one was held accountable in previous instances, including the commanders who ordered the stakeout, is what allows this unlawful policy to continue.

 

 

B'Tselem in the media:
The Independent: Israel destroys Palestinian classrooms ahead of first day of school.
Haaretz: Israeli Troops 'Were Out to Kill,' Says Family of Palestinian Rock Thrower Shot Dead by Sniper
+972 Magazine: WATCH: Settlers sexually harass Palestinian woman, soldiers stand by
+972 Magazine: The ‘diplomatic tsunami’ that never came
 

 

 

 

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