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.
A decade after construction began on the Separation Barrier, the harm to adjacent Palestinian communities is clear. With some two-thirds of the barrier completed, it has crippled agriculture along its route. By isolating communities from each other and from their land, the barrier has eroded their ability to survive and prevents any sustainable development. This reality violates the state's commitment to the High Court that the barrier would not seriously harm these communities.
The report surveys the broad spectrum of issues regarding the Israeli authorities' human rights record in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past year, the 44th year of the Israeli occupation. An interactive version of the report is available online and distributed through social media. The report documents a sharp increase in the number of uninvolved Palestinians killed by the Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip in 2011. There was also an increase in the number of Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians, compared to 2010.
The report shows that, over the past year, at least 81 Palestinian minors from Silwan, East Jerusalem, have been arrested or detained for questioning on suspicion of stone throwing. Many were arrested at night, some were questioned without a parent present, and many said the arrest was violent. These methods breach Israel's Youth Law and other laws it applies to East Jerusalem.
The report reveals that as far back as the 1970s, Israel planned to annex Ma’ale Adummim. To do this, it expropriated over the years tens of thousands of dunams of Palestinian land and expelled hundreds of Beduin who were living there. Implementation of plans to expand the settlement will destroy north-south territorial contiguity in the West Bank and impede realization of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
According to the report, the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in clashes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip dropped. However, there has been deterioration in many other measures of the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories.
The report deals with the route of the separation barrier showing that the route was based on considerations relating to settlement expansion and control of land, and not on security reasons, as the government has continuously claimed.
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.