The entire area Israel controls between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is governed by a single regime working to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group over another. By geographically, demographically and physically engineering space, the regime enables Jews to live in a contiguous area with full rights, including self-determination, while Palestinians live in separate units and enjoy fewer rights. This qualifies as an apartheid regime, although Israel is commonly viewed as a democracy upholding a temporary occupation.
On 13 Oct. 2020, Israeli bulldozers entered the Gaza Strip and razed 25 dunams of parsley, dill, zucchini, okra, and eggplant crops along the perimeter fence, as well as irrigation systems in these areas. These actions are illegal under international law, which prohibits the destruction of private property in any but exceptional circumstances, which do not apply in this case. These actions also expose the absurdity of Israel’s claim that Gaza is a separate “hostile state entity”, demonstrating that it still controls Gaza.
Israel controls Gaza’s power supply, whether directly by providing electricity or indirectly by controlling fuel flow to the only local power plant. After years of allowing only enough electricity for eight-hour rotations among residents, on 10 Aug. 2020 Israel also cut off the fuel supply as the latest form of collective punishment against Gazans, reducing the power supply to 4 hours a day for three weeks. In testimonies they gave B’Tselem, residents described the daily repercussions and their deep frustration with living in an unbearable reality.
In August 2020, Israel bombed targets in the Gaza Strip by air and from the ground, injuring five Palestinians – four minors and a woman – and lightly damaging a school and six homes. Palestinian rocket fire injured one Israeli and lightly damaged two homes. In an Israeli airstrike on 14 August near a residential compound in al-Bureij Refugee Camp, two children aged 3 and 11 were injured in the head and four homes damaged. This policy of bombing densely-populated areas, which has caused thousands of casualties, is immoral and illegal.
On 12 August 2020, Israel reduced southern Gaza’s fishing range from 15 to eight nautical miles, officially because explosive-laden balloons had been launched from Gaza into Israel. On 16 August 2020, Israel banned access to the Gaza sea, and on 2 September 2020, reopened the fishing zone to 15 nautical miles. This restriction is one of several that Israel has imposed for years on the Gazan fishing industry, leading to its near collapse and subjecting fishermen to perilous working conditions and abject poverty. In the following testimonies, wives and mothers of fishermen and fishmongers describe life under the restrictions.
Some 2 million Gazans suffer from a constant shortage of water, which gets worse in summer. The tap water is salty, polluted and undrinkable. Much has been written about Gaza’s water crisis and collapsing infrastructure under the Israeli blockade. Here, five Gazans describe their unbearable daily reality: the endless pursuit of water, the damage the salty water causes to their physical and mental health and to their belongings, and the financial burden of buying drinking water they can barely afford.
This is the story of one factory – the Sharaf Gas-Pipe and Metalwork Factory. It is the story of its owner, Yusef Rabah Sharaf, who still remembers the days when orders used to flow in. It is also the story of two of his employees, ‘Ata Abu ‘Areban and Khalil Abu ‘Amarneh, who no longer remember what a monthly wage looks like. The Sharaf Factory is one of many Palestinian businesses to have collapsed due to Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007. As part of this policy, Israel has turned Gaza into the world's largest open-air prison. This has led to the economy collapsing, hundreds of factories closing, soaring unemployment rates and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians now dependent on humanitarian aid. Some 65% of Gazans are young people under the age of 25 whose lives are unbearable, yet their future carries no hope for change.
On 23 Feb. 2020, soldiers shot two Islamic Jihad operatives near the perimeter fence in the southern Gaza Strip, killing one and wounding the other. The military claims it fired after the two tried to plant explosives near the fence. The wounded man managed to crawl away, and soldiers shot and injured two men who tried to evacuate the body, though they posed no danger to anyone. A military bulldozer then damaged the body before scooping and snatching it. This wanton, grotesque behavior defies any conceivable moral or legal principle.
The spread of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip will be a massive disaster, resulting entirely from the unique conditions created by more than a decade of Israeli blockade: a failing healthcare system, extreme poverty, dependence on humanitarian aid, dysfunctional infrastructure and harsh living conditions that compromise public health – even before exposure to the new virus – combine with overcrowding to form a nightmare scenario.
B’Tselem’s analysis finds AG’s claims, that the ICC has no jurisdiction in Palestine, rely on intentional misquotation, disregard for international law and an absurd misrepresentation of reality. Contrary to the AG’s position, the ICC has jurisdiction to carry out the necessary investigation of the situation in Palestine. This morning, B’Tselem published a position paper refuting the conclusion of Attorney General Dr. Avichai Mandelblit – the highest legal authority in Israel’s executive branch, whose legal opinion represents the government – that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction to investigate suspected war crimes by Israel.
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.