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Church Leaders' Letter to Congress, Oct 2012

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Commentary about what is happening today in the Middle East:

Uri Avnery's Column
one of the best Israeli commentators and a leading peace activist

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cutting edge, thought-provoking commentary

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speaking courageous truth to his nation and the world

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a former editor of "The Christian Century" with extensive experience on Mid East affairs

News and editorials from other sources are provided on our website for the convenience of our visitors. Not all items included here will reflect the views or goals of United Methodists' Holy Land Task Force.
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B'Tselem in Hebrew literally means "in the image of," and is also used as a synonym for human dignity. The word is taken from Genesis 1:27 "And God created humans in his image. In the image of God did He create him." It is in this spirit that the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights."

B'Tselem has championed human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for over two decades, promoting a future where all Israelis and Palestinians will live in freedom and dignity.
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OLDER REPORTS FROM B'TSELEM - 2012


Five attacks on olive harvesters and damaged olive groves in four days

Between October 7th and 10th, 2012, with the start of the West Bank's annual olive harvest, B'Tselem has documented five cases of injury to Palestinian farmers and their olive trees in the Ramallah and Nablus regions. In two incidents, settlers attacked farmers picking olives and damaged their yields. The accumulation of incidents since the start of the olive harvest suggests that security forces were not adequately deployed to fulfill their duty to protect Palestinian olive harvesters and their property from settler violence.

Video: Soldiers assault journalists covering demonstration. Kafr Qadum, 17 August 2012

On Friday, 17 August 2012, a B’Tselem volunteer filmed the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qadum protesting the closure of the Qadum-Nablus road. Soldiers are seen assaulting journalists with clubs. When media published the clip, the army announced a Military Police Investigation Unit inquiry to clarify the circumstances of the incident.


After viewing B'Tselem video, Israeli military judge: Innocent Palestinian man was assaulted by soldier, detained for almost a month

Yesterday, Israeli military court judge, Maj. Daniel Kfir unconditionally released ‘Abd al-’Aziz Fakhouri, a young Palestinian man who was arrested almost a month ago in Hebron by soldiers out of uniform. The judge made the ruling after watching two videos. The first video was broadcast in the Israeli media, and the second was recently uncovered by B'Tselem. The judged ruled that the videos prove that the arrest was groundless, in contrast to an official IDF spokesperson announcement.


Suspicion: Border police assaulted teen in custody. Abu Dis, 28 August 2012

Testimony collected by B’Tselem shows on 28 August 2012, Sa’id Qiblawi, age 14, chanced on an area near his home in Abu Dis where children were throwing stones at border police officers. On trying to leave, Qiblawi was stopped by a policeman who, he testified, dragged him on the ground and put him inside a jeep, where, lying on the floor, he was beaten by other police officers. More beating followed at the nearby border police base. B’Tselem contacted the DIP demanding an inquiry into his case.


Policeman Tasers Palestinians at Meymadion Water Park, 21 August 2012

On 21 August 2012, Talal a-Sayed, a resident of a-Tur in East Jerusalem, was assaulted by police during a family visit to the Meymadion water park in Tel Aviv. The assault, reported in Haaretz, was partly documented on video by a bystander. The clip shows the policeman tasering a-Sayed while he is sitting, handcuffed, on the lawn. B’Tselem collected testimonies from a-Sayed, who lodged a complaint with the Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP); another young man assaulted earlier by the police and eyewitnesses. The DIP told B’Tselem it was investigating.


B'Tselem seeks English language editor

Responsible for precision, style and language of all B'Tselem materials in English. This is a part-time position based in Jerusalem.


Suspicion: Soldiers beat, seriously wounded ‘Udai Abu Mariah, 31 July 2012

On the evening of 31 July 2012, soldiers stopped ‘Udai Abu Mariah, age 19, at the Beit Ummar checkpoint in the Hebron district, claiming he was wanted for questioning. Abu Mariah was taken by jeep to a nearby military base. The soldiers beat and abused Abu Mariah en route and after arrival, severely injuring him in the abdomen. Instead of being taken to receive medical treatment, however, Abu Mariah was abandoned for several hours, lying on the floor and moaning in pain, with soldiers periodically beating him again. During the night, soldiers finally took him back to the checkpoint and let him go.


Susiya demolition orders not simply a law enforcement issue

In an op-ed first published in the Jerusalem Post, Eyal Hareuveni explains why the demolition orders issued by the Civil Administration in May for most of the village of Khirbet Susiya do not serve legitimate planning interests. Rather, they reflect the discriminatory planning regime that Israel imposed in Area C of the West Bank, where Israel has complete control. This regime threatens the continued existence of dozens of Area C Palestinian villages for which Israel has thwarted the preparation of master plans, while preventing the expansion and development of other Palestinian communities in this area.


Disciplinary hearing for Border Police officer who kicked a nine year old boy

The Department for the Investigation of Police, in the Ministry of Justice (DIP) has informed B'Tselem that it decided to initiate disciplinary proceedings for "unlawful use of force" against a border police officer who was filmed kicking a nine year old Palestinian boy. The DIP decided not to file a criminal indictment against the officer. B'Tselem has written to the DIP to obtain the full investigation file to determine whether further steps are warranted.


Firing zone 918: villages still in the crosshairs

On 19 July 2012 the State responded to the High Court petition by south Hebron hills residents against expulsion from their homes. For the first time, the state clarified the “operational necessity” for a live firing zone and reiterated its demand to expel most Palestinians from the area. The state’s response ignored the illegality of its actions under international law. Israel must cancel the south Hebron hills live firing zone declaration and allow residents to remain in their homes, work their land and herd their flocks.


Reopen investigation into the killing of Majedah and Rayah Abu Hajaj in operation Cast Lead

Following the signing of a plea bargain with a soldier charged with manslaughter during operation Cast Lead, B'Tselem demands that the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) reopen the file into the killing of Majedah and Rayah Abu Hajaj. If the military prosecution accepted the claim that there is no connection between the shooting he admitted to and the killing of the Palestinian mother and daughter, this means that the investigation into this incident was never completed. The MPIU must therefore solve the case and pursuant to the finding, hold accountable those responsible.

Video: A nighttime search at the home of a B'Tselem volunteer in Hebron

On the afternoon of 16 January 2012 B'Tselem video volunteer, Diaa al-Hadad, was detained for a few minutes and released in Hebron. That same night, a unit of soldiers commanded by a first lieutenant came to the family's house and conducted a search. During the search, they made Diaa stand against a wall for quite some time.Diaa and his father, 'Abd al-Karim Hadad, documented the incident with their cameras. B'Tselem does not know the reason for the search, but what is known is that the soldiers did not take anything from the house, and no one in the family was arrested.

Video and testimony: Officer head-butts youth in the face. Hebron, 25.7.2012

On Wednesday, 25 July 2012, a B’Tselem video volunteer filmed an Israeli officer head-butting 17-year-old Thair Ghanam in the head after an argument between the Palestinian youth and a soldier at a checkpoint. B’Tselem reported the incident and provided video documentation to the IDF Spokesperson’s office, and released the clip to the media. The next day, the Military Advocate General (MAG) announced that it had ordered the Military Police Investigative Division (MPIU) to open an inquiry into the incident.

Video documentation: officer head-butts a Palestinian youth, Hebron

Yesterday evening, 25.7.2012, a volunteer in B'Tselem's camera distribution project documented from his window a soldier detaining a number of Palestinian youths at the military checkpoint near the Beit Hadassah settlement in Hebron. One of the youths argued with the soldier. Later the video shows an officer holding the youth and taking him by force up the street, then head-butting him, breaking his nose. B'Tselem reported the incident to the IDF spokesperson's office and the Military Police Investigative Division (MPID).

Appeal against the closing of investigation into beating of Silwan resident by Border Police officer

On 17 July 2012, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed an appeal with the State Attorney against the decision by the Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP) to close the investigation into a complaint by Silwan resident who was beaten by Border Police officers on 15 September 2011. In the appeal, ACRI argued that the DIP closed the case without pursuing all possible means to clarify the circumstances of the incident, and demanded that the State Attorney instruct the DIP to conduct a thorough investigation.

Hamas authorities execute three people in Gaza

On 17 July 2012, the Hamas authorities in Gaza executed three Palestinians condemned to death by Gaza courts. Since Hamas took over in Gaza, 33 people have been sentenced to death by its courts, and 13 people have been executed, including some who were sentenced to death before the Hamas takeover. B’Tselem condemns the use of capital punishment, which is immoral. The state may not violate a person's right to life as means of punishment, even for the purpose of law enforcement.

A reminder: Some facts about the settlement of Ariel

In light of the intention to upgrade the Ariel academic center to a university, B'Tselem provides some examples of the way this settlement harms human rights: Located in the center of the West Bank, Ariel was built on land that served the residents of nearby Palestinian villages. Ariel's wastewater pollutes the water sources of the nearby Palestinian town Salfit. To allow Israeli settlers a smooth commute between Ariel and Israel, Palestinian villages in the region were cut off from their regional capital.

Levy Committee Report: Where are the Palestinians?

On 9 July 2012, the media published the recommendations of a government-appointed committee on "steps to be taken to regularize construction" in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Given that the Levy Committee was founded explicitly to find ways of legalizing illegal acts, it is not surprising that its conclusions appear tailored to the settlement agenda. The report's conclusions have no basis in international law and almost completely ignore the people most hurt by the establishment of settlements, the two and a half million Palestinians of the West Bank.

Soldier delayed patient’s evacuation from Old City of Hebron, 8 May 2012

On 8 May 2012, a Red Crescent ambulance arrived at the Abu Haza’a home in the Old City of Hebron to evacuate Manal Abu Haza’a, mother of the family, who felt unwell and had fainted. The ambulance driver later testified that, as he prepared to evacuate the patient, a soldier approached and interfered, delaying the ambulance over an hour while the patient remained semi-conscious in the house. Eventually brought to the hospital, Abu Haza’a was diagnosed with a panic attack and released later that night.

Border Police in Hebron abused a schoolboy, ‘Abd a-Rahman Burqan, twice in one month

On 29 June 2012, a B’Tselem volunteer documented an assault on a 9-year-old boy, ’Abd a-Rahman Burqan, by Border Police officers in Hebron. B’Tselem also took testimony about an attack on ‘Abd a-Rahman on 3 June 2012, which was not documented on video. In the first incident, a Border Police officer allegedly chased ‘Abd a-Rahman and, after catching him, stepped on his hand and kicked him, then released him. B’Tselem contacted the Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP) on 1 July 2012 about that incident. A few hours later, B’Tselem received video documentation of the second incident. After the media publicized the video, the Department for the Investigation of Police notified B’Tselem that it would begin investigating both incidents.

Video documentation: Border Police officer kicks Palestinian child, Hebron

A B'Tselem video volunteer documented an Israeli Border Police officer kicking a Palestinian child while another officer held the boy. The incident took place on the 29th of June 2012 near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in Hebron's H2 area. The video shows a Border Police officer ambushing a child from around the corner. As the child walks past, the officer grabs and drags him on the ground for a few seconds. A second Border Police officer then appears and kicks the boy.

Suspicion of abuse: Soldiers detained a 13-year-old boy and abandoned him at night, handcuffed

Testimony taken by B’Tselem indicates that during April 2012, soldiers arrested Muhammad a-Zir, age 13. According to the testimonies, the soldiers beat the boy during his first detention, during which he was interrogated without his parents present in contravention of the law regarding detention of youths. Following both subsequent detentions, the soldiers left him at night with his hands cuffed, somewhere unknown to him, and far away from his home. B’Tselem contacted the Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) demanding that it open an investigation into these incidents.

The Israeli government’s “price tag” operation

On Wednesday, 20 June 2012, the Israeli government’s Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs approved an agreement to evacuate five buildings in Ulpana Hill, a neighborhood of the Beit El settlement. Following the approval, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the significance of the agreement is in “safeguarding the law.” The precise law to which the Prime Minister is referring, however, is unclear, and the agreement that was signed is not legal -- neither in light of High Court rulings nor under international law.

The writing is on the wall: Defense Minister must act to prevent next "Price Tag" incident

Five human rights organizations sent an urgent letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Judea and Samaria Police District Commander Amos Yaakov, and GOC Central Command General Nitzan Alon, demanding a preconceived and proactive approach to the possiblitly of violent activities carried out by extreme right-wing activists against Palestinians in the days leading up to the removal of five houses from Ulpana Hill in the settlement of Beit El.

Combat has rules too. Protect civilians from the hostilities

In light of the escalation in violence around the Gaza Strip, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem has repeated its demand that all parties to the conflict take all feasible measures to protect civilians from the impact of the fighting.

The rules of war obligate all parties to a conflict to do their utmost to prevent harm to civilians. Deliberate targeting of civilians is expressly prohibited.

Following B’Tselem’s documentation: Israeli army will stop using dogs to disperse demonstrations

On 15 June 2012, the Haaretz newspaper reported that, following a demonstrator’s injury in Kafr Qadum after an Israeli soldier set a dog on him, the army had decided to stop using dogs to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank. The Kafr Qadum incident was documented by a B’Tselem volunteer, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel contacted the Judea and Samaria Division Command demanding that soldiers be reminded that they are forbidden to use dogs to attack civilians in general and demonstrators in particular.

Civil Administration threatens to demolish a substantial part of Susiya village

On Tuesday, 12 June 2012, Israel’s Civil Administration distributed demolition orders to over 50 temporary structures in the Palestinian village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills. Residents were given three days, until 15 June 2012, to appeal the orders through the Civil Administration’s Supreme Planning Council. Residents are planning to submit their opposition today (14 June 2012).If the demolition orders are carried out, this will be the third time that Israel has tried to expel the residents of Susiya from their lands.

3 appeals submitted regarding closure of 3 investigations of police officers

B’Tselem recently learned of the decision by the Police Investigations Unit (PIU) to close the files on three cases dealing with complaints submitted to the unit. Acting on behalf of the complainants, B’Tselem obtained and examined copies of the case files and found investigative errors and omissions. In two of the cases, an appeal has been submitted to the State’s Attorney by Atty. Gabi Lasky on behalf of B’Tselem. The third case was passed on to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has also submitted an appeal.

B'Tselem USA Examines 45 Years of Israeli Military Occupation

B'Tselem USA hosted Yael Dayan and David Broza yesterday at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, in New York's West Village, for a discussion of the human rights concerns inevitable in a situation of prolonged occupation, reflecting on Israel's past and prospects for a secure and peaceful future.

Mahmoud a-Sarsak, imprisoned in Israel for about 3 years, is in danger of death after some 80 days of hunger strike

Mahmoud a-Sarsak, age 25, a resident of the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, has been imprisoned by Israel for the last three years under the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law of 2002. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel report that a-Sarsak, who has been on a hunger strike for some 80 days, has lost a great deal of weight and that his life is in imminent danger.

Video: Yitzhar settlers burn crops, shoot and injure a Palestinian in the presence of Israeli soldiers

On Saturday (26 May 2012) dozens of Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement invaded lands of the Palestinian village, ‘Urif in the northern West Bank. According to video documentation and field observations, the settlers threw stones and set fire to wheat fields and olive groves in a number of locations, causing large fires that burned wheat and olive groves. Youths from the Palestinian village came to put out the fires, and some of them also threw stones at the settlers. Some twenty settlers accompanied by about five armed members of the Yitzhar settlement security squad charged a group of Palestinian youths who had confronted them. The settlers fired live ammunition injuring a Palestinian man. All of these events took place in the presence of dozens of Israeli soldiers.

B'Tselem to Levy Committee: Don't miss the opportunity to make the government uphold the rule of law

The Committee to Examine the State of Construction in the West Bank, Chaired by Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Edmund Levy, is expected to announce its position in the near future. In anticipation of this, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has called on the committee to not cooperate with the government's intention to legalize settlement building on West Bank land.

Uri Zaki Addresses the 12th Annual Doha Forum

B’Tselem USA Director Uri Zaki joined fellow experts on policy in Syria, Libya, Israel, and the occupied territories this week on a panel at the “Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference,” also known as the 12th Doha Forum. The panel addressed minority affairs in Middle Eastern countries.

Ta’ayush video: Settler attacks B’Tselem field researcher while soldiers watch

Earlier this week, on the afternoon of 21 May 2012, settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers harvesting on their land near the Mitzpe Yair outpost. One settler lifted a sickle from the ground and brandished it threateningly at B’Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj’ah, who was present, then grabbed Nawaj’ah’s camera and smashed it. The soldiers standing nearby did nothing to prevent the attack. B’Tselem submitted a complaint to the Judea and Samaria district police.

B’Tselem appeals closing of investigation into death of Firas Qasqas

On 16 May 2012, on behalf of B’Tselem, Attorney Gabi Lasky filed an appeal with the State Attorney against the decision by the Central District Attorney’s Office to close the file on the fatal shooting of Firas Qasqas by reserve-duty soldiers some four years ago. The appeal was submitted after an examination of the material from the investigation into this case revealed concrete evidence that necessitates an indictment for the negligent shooting of Qasqas, and that therefore, the decision to close the case is unreasonable and should be reversed.

Jerusalem Day: Alternative Voices

In June 2011, B’Tselem and the Guardian produced "East Jerusalem: Six Voices". A project in which six Palestinians and Israelis were given cameras to create video diaries of their lives, under the shadow of the settlement enterprise in occupied East Jerusalem. The diaries offer a glimpse into the impact of the volatile reality on their lives.

Video: settlers firing at Palestinians in the presence of soldiers

On Saturday, 19.5.2012, settlers descended on the eastern outskirts of the village 'Asira al-Qibliya, from the settlement Yitzhar. B'Tselem volunteer photographers filmed the events. The video shows the settlers throwing stones at Palestinian homes. Palestinian youths from the village soon arrived and threw stones at the settlers. The video later shows settlers aiming their weapons at the Palestinians and firing in the presence of soldiers. The firing injured village resident, Fathi 'Asayira, 24, in the head.

Five years without visits – Will family visits be renewed for prisoners from Gaza?

This morning (15 May 2012), the media reported that an agreement was reached between Israel and representatives of the Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, following a hunger strike that lasted some six weeks. One of the demands of the strikers was the resumption of family visits for the prisoners from Gaza, which were stopped in 2007. The ongoing denial of the rights of prisoners and detainees from Gaza to received family visits is a very serious blow to their right to family life.

B'Tselem to Attorney General: do not allow home demolition of relatives of Fogel Family murderers

B'Tselem has written to the Israeli Attorney General, Adv. Yehuda Weinstein, requesting him to reject the Israel Security Agency (ISA) recommendation to demolish the 'Awarta homes of the families of Amjad and Hakim Awad, who murdered five members of the Fogel family in March 2011. B'Tselem Executive Director Jessica Montell wrote that the attack carried out by Amjad and Hakim Awad is shocking and horrifying. Nothing about that attack, however, makes harming their relatives, who were never found guilty of involvement of any kind, legal or moral.

Two hunger strikers near death after 70 days

Israel’s High Court of Justice today (7.5.2012) rejected appeals by Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahlah against their continuing administrative detention, ruling that a hunger strike cannot be a factor in determining the duration of detention. This follows a report from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel that both prisoners are near death. The two prisoners began their strike on 1 March 2012 to protest the renewal of their detention. Both are now hospitalized at Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Rishon LeZion. Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly contravenes international law; the army must release all administrative detainees or give them a fair trial.

No closure in killing of 21 Gaza family members

The al-Samouni case only illustrates the broader problem regarding the military’s ability to examine itself. Shirking responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the widespread devastation caused by Cast Lead demonstrates yet again the need for an Israeli investigation mechanism that is external to the army.

Army closes investigation into the killing of 21 members of the a-Samuni family in Gaza

The MAG Corps informed B'Tselem today that it has closed the Military Police investigation file in the complaint into the killing of 21 members of the a-Samuni family in the Gaza Strip. The file was closed without taking any measures against those responsible. In response, Adv. Yael Stein, B'Tselem's head of research, said: it is unacceptable that no one is found responsible for an action of the army that led to the killing of 21 uninvolved civilians, inside the building they entered under soldiers' orders, even if this was not done deliberately. The way the army has exempted itself of responsibility for this event, even if only to acknowledge its severity and clarify its circumstances, is intolerable.

"Celebrate Israel In Its Entirety"

Read Uri Zaki's op-ed in The New York Jewish Week, "Celebrate Israel in its Entirety."

Soldiers in civilian clothing shot Palestinians who mistook them for robbers, killing one

On the night of 27 March 2012, soldiers in civilian clothing entered Kafr Ramun near Ramallah. B’Tselem has learned that three brothers from the village, thinking they were being robbed, came outside armed with a club and two knives to defend their property and were shot by the soldiers. Uniformed soldiers who came to the scene during the incident, also shot two of the brothers, who were already wounded. One brother died of his wounds and the other two sustained injuries. B’Tselem demanded an investigation into this incident and was informed Today, 24 April 2012, that an investigation was ordered by the MAG corps

More tear gas canisters shot at human targets, army denials notwithstanding

On Friday, 9 March 2012, B’Tselem documented two serious incidents of tear gas canisters fired directly at demonstrators in two West Bank locations. Despite ample documentation that tear gas canisters are aimed and launched directly at people, the authorities continue to deny it.

New documentation of the assault on protesters refutes claims they acted violently

A new film that was obtained by B'Tselem shows the minutes that preceded the violent incident in which the Former Jordan Valley Brigade deputy commander assaulted international and Palestinian protesters. In response, B'Tselem Executive Director Jessica Montell, said: "The video disproves claims that the soldiers responded to violence by the activists. This severe case of violence illustrates the sense of impunity felt by the deputy brigade commander. In fact Israeli security forces are almost never held accountable for violence against Palestinians."

Hamas executes three people in Gaza

On 12 April 2012, the Hamas authorities in Gaza executed three Palestinians sentenced to death by Gaza courts. Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza, 32 people have been sentenced to death, and ten people have been executed. B’Tselem condemns the use of capital punishment as immoral and a violation of the right to life. Regardless of the crime, such punishment has no place on the law books.

Testimony: ISA prevents young man with rare disease from traveling to East Jerusalem for treatment

Kamel a-Taramsi, age 24, has acromegaly, a rare endocrine disease. Following years of misdiagnoses, a-Taramsi was finally referred to al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem for treatment unavailable in Gaza. A-Taramsi got a permit to leave Gaza and travel to East Jerusalem but when he arrived at Erez crossing, the ISA subjected him to a lengthy interrogation without regard for his condition, and threatened him with arrest. A-Taramsi was ultimately released, but not allowed to travel to East Jerusalem. He has since been unable to obtain the required permit.

Investigate death, injuries from live firing during Land Day demonstrations in Gaza

B’Tselem wrote to the Military Police and the Military Advocate General Corps requesting they launch a Military Police Investigation into the death of a Palestinian demonstrator and the wounding of dozens of others when live ammunition was used against protesters during a Land Day demonstration in the Gaza Strip on Friday, 30 March 2012.

Tired of Being Depicted as the Wicked Child?

Are you tired of your uncle depicting you as the “wicked child” at the Passover Seder table just because you are willing to ask the tough questions about human rights in Israel and the occupied territories? The answer is not to become the “silent child.”

Israeli army evacuates new settlement point in Hebron

On 29 March 2012 dozens of settlers took over a building’s third floor in the Old City of Hebron. On 2 April 2012 the army issued an evacuation order instructing the settlers to leave by the following morning. On 4 April 2012 the security services evacuated the new settlement and sealed the entrances. Since then, the army has placed a guard on the building. The settlement points in Hebron were created in violation of international law and seriously interfere with the human rights of the Palestinian residents. Hence, Israel is legally and morally obliged to evacuate the Hebron settlers and return them to its own territory.

Upcoming B'Tselem USA Events

Uri Zaki will speak at Harvard University on April 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm.

Please click above for additional information.

The Military must stop unacceptable practice of unleashing dogs against civilians

During the last year, B’Tselem has documented eight cases of Military dogs attacking and injuring citizens. The army’s use of dogs against civilians is improper and dangerous and could lead to severe and disproportionate injury to unarmed civilians. B’Tselem urges army commanders to immediately change the existing policy and prohibit the use of dogs to attack civilians, before any more people are injured.

Soldiers Suspected of Lengthy Abuse of Palestinian from Hebron

B’Tselem has received testimony raising suspicion that Muhammad Maharmeh, 22, of Hebron, was abused at length by IDF soldiers. On 11 March 2012, soldiers went to the Maharmeh home in the Old City of Hebron and assaulted Muhammad and his father Ishaq, 50. According to their testimony, the soldiers took the two to an army base, where Muhammad was abused for several hours while his father, held separately, could hear him screaming. B’Tselem has called on the Military Police Investigation Unit to open an investigation into this incident.

Administrative detainee Hanaa Shalabi in 40th day of hunger strike

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel reported that administrative detainee Hanaa Shalabi, 30, declared a hunger strike when arrested on 16 February 2012 “in protest of her violent detention, the humiliating and hurtful search that was conducted on her upon her detention, and also in protest of being held in administrative detention.” According to PHR-Israel her life is in danger. Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly breaches these rules. The military must release all the administrative detainees or prosecute them, in accordance with due process.

Civil Administration threatens wind turbines, solar power in southern Hebron Hills

The Civil Administration issued demolition orders recently against alternative energy structures in six villages in the Masafer Yatta area of the southern Hebron Hills, which have no other source of power. The 500 residents live in Area C of the West Bank under full Israeli control. Costing some 216,000 Euros, the structures were funded by international donors. Such demolitions are part of Israel’s overall policy of reducing the Palestinian population of Area C, totally contradicting its public pronouncements and international obligations.

Positions at B'Tselem

Two positions available at B’Tselem: international Relations Associate at the Jerusalem office and Associate Director for USA Office in Washington.

B'Tselem's annual report on human rights in the Occupied Territories

The annual 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.

B'Tselem's annual report on human rights in the Occupied Territories

The annual 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.

Suspected police assault on East Jerusalem woman, three sons

B’Tselem has evidence indicating that on the morning of 30 January 2012, police guarding demolition of a trailer in East Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood assaulted Hanan Salhab, age 60, and three of her sons who attempted to come to her aid. According to the three brothers they were beaten even after being arrested and handcuffed, and two were Tasered. After their interrogation and release on bail, the three sought medical attention. The family lodged a complaint and the Department for the Investigation of Police opened a file.

Combat has rules too. Shield civilians from the hostilies

In light of the recent escalation in violence around the Gaza Strip, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem has repeated its demand that all parties to the conflict take all feasible measures to protect civilians from the impact of the fighting.

Appeal filed by settlers convicted of aggravated assault is rejected

On July 5, 2008, Medhat Abu Karsh went to harvest barley on a plot of land he claims belongs to his family. After a fire broke out in the field, most likely unintentionally, he asked for the help of some Israeli settlers who were nearby, but they assaulted him, tied him to a utility pole and abused him in the presence of soldiers. Two of the settlers involved in the incident were convicted of aggravated assault in a plea bargain, and sentenced to a three-month sentence to be served as community service. The two appealed the sentencing, but on February 9, 2012, the Supreme Court rejected their appeal.

New report reveals how Israel reclassified privately owned Palestinian land as state land

A New B'Tselem report examined Israel's policy of declaring land in the West Bank "state land". The research reveals that large areas were classified as state land for the use of settlements even though the land was actually privately or collectively owned by Palestinians. This was achieved by re-writing the interpretation to the Ottoman Land Law. This way, between 1979-2000, Israel declared more than 900,000 dunums as state land, an addition of 170% to the total before 1967.

Out of My Window

To mark International Women’s Day, B'Tselem is issuing a collection of videos filmed by women who volunteer in its camera project. The images provide the viewer with a unique look into these women's daily lives. The women in the project live in a reality in which human rights violations are a daily occurrence. It is a reality most of us prefer not to see, yet the documentation is crucial and also transformative. The women photographers say that the cameras have changed their lives. They provide a tool for personal, social, and popular expression and they make these women effective human rights advocates in a traditional society in which the men usually take center stage.

Suspicion: Soldiers attacked and severely beat a young man from a-Tabaqa village

Testimonies given to B’Tselem indicate that soldiers assaulted Akram Khanatsheh, 19, from the village of a-Tabaqa, south-west of Hebron. According his testimony, he got caught in a clash between Palestinian youths and soldiers. When he tried to leave the area, an army dog attacked him and soldiers assaulted him. One of them struck him on the head with a large rock. Khanatsheh was taken to Soroka Hospital where he underwent head surgery and remained hospitalized for a week. B’Tselem contacted the MAG corps demanding a criminal investigation of the incident.

Security forces spray foul smelling liquid on a funeral procession in Hebron

On Friday, February 24, 2012, a demonstration against the closure of Shuhada Street to Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles was held in Hebron. Shortly before it ended, and completely unrelated to it, a funeral procession passed though the street on its way to the cemetery and encountered border police and army forces. The family tried to talk to the border police officers who were at the scene so that they would allow the procession to reach the cemetery, but to no avail. A few minutes later, a security force vehicle sprayed a foul smelling liquid (“skunk”) on the demonstrators, who had remained on the street, and on the deceased’s body and the mourners.

Indictments against settlers following B'Tselem's exposure of property crimes

On 15 February, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office indicted a soldier and two young Israeli women, charging that they damaged property, and sprayed malicious graffiti against Palestinians, in a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah, a village in the Nablus District. The indictment also accuses the soldier of using a gun to threaten villagers who tried to stop his car. The three were arrested following B'Tselem’s publication of video footage filmed by a security camera belonging to a merchant in the village.

Khader ‘Adnan ends hunger strike after state agrees not to extend detention

On 21 February 2012, the State Attorney's Office announced that Khader ‘Adnan’s administrative detention would not be extended when it expires, provided that no new intelligence information against him is found. ‘Adnan then agreed to end his hunger strike.

State allows al-Haq Director to go abroad for first time in 6 years

In response to a High Court petition against the Israeli military's prohibition of Shawan Jabarin traveling abroad, in force since 2006, the state agreed to let him attend a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Ahead of the High Court hearing, Israeli human rights organizations called on the state to remove the travel ban on Jabarin.

An officer who injured a non-violent protester in Bil'in will not be held accountable

On 1 January 2012, MAGS Corps informed B'Tselem that the investigation into the injury of the protester Eran Cohen was closed with no legal proceedings being initiated against the officer who shot him with a rubber coated metal bullet. Cohen, an Israeli citizen, was shot during a demonstration in Bil’in on 15 March 2008. Video footage of the incident shows clearly that the protester did not endanger the soldiers, and that the officer was only several meters from Cohen when he opened fire, in violation of the army's orders.

B'Tselem to Meridor: Immediately release or try administrative detainee on hunger strike

On 9 February, B'Tselem made an urgent appeal to Minister Dan Meridor to ensure the immediate release of Khader 'Adnan, an administrative detainee who has been on a hunger strike for 54 days. If he is not released, he must be charged and tried. B'Tselem asked Meridor to act “to ensure the well-being and health of Khader 'Adnan and prevent a needless tragedy to him and his family.”

Sharp rise in administrative detention

There has been a sharp rise in Israel's use of administrative detention over the past year. Over 300 Palestinians are now being held without charge or trial, for periods ranging from 6 months to several years. In protest, one administrative detainee has been on hunger strike for 46 days.

B'Tselem's demands for investigation after Operation Cast Lead

After the operation B'Tselem wrote to the MAG Corps demanding investigations of the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) into 20 incidents that had taken place during the operation. In each of the incidents, B'Tselem's field research raised serious suspicions that military actions had harmed unarmed, uninvolved civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law. View list of cases and investigations status

State won’t prosecute officer responsible for shooting of Firas Qasqas

Firas Qasqas, an unarmed Palestinian civilian, was killed on 2 February 2007 by soldiers' gunfire, in a-Tira neighborhood in Ramallah. On 18 August 2011, in response to a petition filed by B'Tselem, the State Attorney's Office informed the High Court of Justice that the officer responsible for the shooting would be prosecuted, pending a hearing. In mid-January 2012, the State informed the Court that, following the hearing given the officer, no indictment would be filed against him.

B'Tselem to military: Investigate firing of .22-caliber bullets at stone throwers

On 5 Jan. '12, B'Tselem wrote to the military advocate general demanding an investigation into the firing of .22-caliber bullets that hit a young Palestinian man who was throwing stones at soldiers during the weekly demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, on 23 December 2011. B'Tselem also requested that the MAG clarify to senior commanders, to forces in the field, and to the Judea and Samaria Division’s spokesperson that using these bullets is tantamount to firing live ammunition, and is, therefore, forbidden as a crowd-control measure.

Three years since Operation Cast Lead: Israeli military utterly failed to investigate itself

Three years after Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military's argument against independent investigation of its conduct during the operation has proven to be hollow. The military has completely failed to investigate itself, regarding both policy choices and the conduct of the forces in the field in particular cases.

High Court sanctions looting: Israeli quarries in the West Bank

The natural resources of an occupied territory must be used to benefit local residents, unless they are needed for urgent military purposes. Yet on 26 Dec. '11, an Israeli High Court of Justice ruling given by President Justice Dorit Beinisch allowed the state and Israeli entrepreneurs to loot West Bank quarries. The judgment blatantly contradicts the principles laid out by the Court over 30 years, as well as international law. It may enable Israel to treat the West Bank and its resources as annexed territory, while ignoring Palestinians' rights.

Judge holds confession of Palestinian minor admissible, despite breach of his rights

On 9 Jan. '12, an Israeli Military Youth Court judge held that a confession given to the police by a 14-year-old Palestinian boy suspected of stone-throwing was admissible, although the minor's rights had clearly been breached under Israel’s Youth Law. In doing so, Judge Rivlin-Ahai forwent an important opportunity to set a standard for protecting the rights of Palestinian minors interrogated by police.

Video: Bedouin community near settlement faces forced relocation

Israel's Civil Administration is planning to forcibly relocate some 27,000 Bedouins living in Area C in the West Bank. At first, 20 communities, comprising some 2,300 people, will be uprooted from the area of the Ma'ale Adummim settlement and relocated to a site next to the Abu Dis garbage dump, east of Jerusalem. Members of the Khan al-Ahmar community explain how the move will affect them.

Army bombs targets in middle of civilian area, killing civilians

In two incidents in December 2011, the Israeli air force bombed ammunition storages in the middle of a civilian area in Gaza. Secondary explosions caused nearby homes to collapse. In the first bombing, two civilians were killed, one of them a 10-year-old, and an 8-year-old was severely injured. In the second, an 11-year-old was severely injured. Hamas breached international law by storing the weapons in a civilian area. Israel failed to take all feasible means to minimize harm to civilians, and did not warn civilians to evacuate the area.

B'Tselem 2011 Camera Project Summary
In 2011, volunteers in B'Tselem's camera project filmed over 500 hours of footage in the West Bank. There are two minutes we collected from it, in order to sum up the passing year.

 

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property, December 2011

In December, B'Tselem documented ten cases of settler violence against Palestinians or Palestinian property in the West Bank. The recent wave of violence results from a longstanding policy of lax law enforcement in cases of settler violence against Palestinians. The Israeli authorities must take action to apprehend and prosecute lawbreakers, while safeguarding the suspects' rights to due process.

A New Year's Greeting from B'Tselem's Executive Director

Jessica Montell reviews B'Tselem's accomplishments and the broader human rights context over the past year, and invites you to join our efforts on behalf of human rights.

Video: Border policeman in Hebron aims loaded weapon and threatens child

On 26 November 2011, a volunteer in B'Tselem’s camera project filmed a border policeman aim a loaded weapon at the photographer’s 13-year-old son. The family related that Border policemen also harassed the boys, who were playing across from their house and beat one of them. B'Tselem demanded that the authorities conduct an immediate investigation.

The Authority Already Exists – What’s Needed Is a Willingness to Act

Reports in the Israeli media in recent days claim that the security forces will soon be given new powers to combat settler violence. According to the reports, soldiers will be authorized to detain and arrest Israelis in the Occupied Territories. The reports are misleading. Israeli soldiers stationed in the West Bank are already authorized to detain Israeli citizens, if it is suspected that they have committed or are about to commit a criminal offense.

B'Tselem researchers report from the field on Ynet

Following the public outrage regarding settler violence against soldiers, B'Tselem’s field researchers describe the daily settler violence Palestinians have suffered for years, which the law-enforcement authorities have met with tacit consent.

Declaring extreme rightwing activists as terrorist organization is illegitimate way to deal with settler violence

In response to media reports that the government is considering declaring extreme rightwing Israeli activists as a terrorist organization, B'Tselem states that this is an illegitimate way to deal with the phenomenon of violence by Israeli citizens in the Occupied Territories. Such violence must be dealt with through the criminal justice system. The recent violence toward the military results from of Israel's lax law-enforcement toward settlers who harm Palestinians and their property.

Military court partially acquits Palestinian due to forced confession

On 30 Nov. '11, the military court in Ofer ruled that a confession given by Ayman Hamidah during an ISA (Shabak) interrogation was inadmissible, since it had not been given willingly. In an unusual step, the court acquitted Hamidah of the charges that were based solely on the confession. In fact, the interrogation methods that Hamidah described have been used against hundreds of Palestinians, and are classified in international law as torture or maltreatment, which are absolutely prohibited.

Soldier kills Palestinian demonstrator Mustafa Tamimi, 28, by shooting tear-gas canister at him

On Friday, 9 Dec. '11, at the end of the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of a-Nabi Saleh, a soldier killed demonstrator Mustafa Tamimi by firing a tear-gas canister directly at his face. For several years, B'Tselem has been alerting officials to security forces' repeated illegal firing of tear-gas canisters directly at persons. Despite the army’s declarations that such firing is forbidden, the practice continues.

Israel prevents Al-Haq director from leaving West Bank to receive award with B'Tselem

Today (29 Nov. '11), the Danish PL Foundation will award B'Tselem and Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq with a joint human rights award. Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin will not attend the ceremony in Copenhagen as Israel has banned him from leaving the West Bank since 2006. In a joint statement, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B'Tselem call on Israel to lift the travel ban and enable Jabarin to leave the Occupied Territories.

New Hebrew Facebook page

Our response to the attempts to silence B'Tselem and other human rights organizations in Israel is to amplify our voice. We invite you to join our new page, in Hebrew only, and to invite as many friends as possible. Our regular page will continue operating in English. To join, click here.

Video: Soldiers let settlers assault Palestinian demonstrators

On 29 Oct. '11, Palestinian residents of Beit Ummar demonstrated on part of their land against theft of their lands. A B'Tselem volunteer documented settlers entering the security buffer strip surrounding the adjacent Carmei Tzur settlement, and throwing stones at the demonstrators. Soldiers at the scene did not try to stop the assault; instead, they removed the Palestinians by shooting tear gas and throwing stun grenades.

B'Tselem awarded Danish human rights award jointly with Palestinian organization Al-Haq

Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations B'Tselem and Al-Haq were jointly awarded the annual human rights award given by the Danish PL Foundation this year. The award has been given since the 1980s to individuals and organizations who struggle non-violently for the values embodied by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The PL Foundation and the annual human rights award were established by Poul Lauritzen, a Danish businessman and member of the Danish resistance during World War II.

The anti-democratic initiatives only strengthen our resolve

Jessica Montell, B'Tselem's Executive Director calls on all those who are concerned about human rights and the Israeli democracy to speak out against efforts to stifle Israeli civil society. "I have full confidence that, working together, champions of democracy both inside Israel and around the world will overcome these dangerous initiatives."

No religious conflict in Hebron

B'Tselem's Hebron field-researcher Musa Abu Hashhash published an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post in anticipation of a mass pilgrimage of Jews to Hebron this Saturday. If we continue to allow the extremists to use religion to divide us, our conflict will be bloody and intractable. When we focus on basic rights we can build a future based on dignity for us all