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.
At this very moment, hundreds of thousands of women and girls are dealing with stifling unemployment and unbearable living conditions. To mark International Women’s Day, B’Tselem has chosen to share the voices of five women and their stories of coping with an impossible reality forced upon them.
Photo of Samar al-Bu’, Beekeeper
At least 21 March of Return protestors have lost vision in one eye in the past two years, and A 16 year old boy lost vision in both eyes. Their personal tragedies add to the alarming summary of Return Protest casualties: more than 200 killed, 8,000 wounded by live fire, 2,400 by “rubber” bullets, nearly 3,000 by tear gas canisters. Wanton use of crowd control weapons has been a feature of the illegal and immoral open-fire policy Israel has been applying in these demonstrations for nearly two years. Here are three stories of individuals who have lost vision in one eye.
Since the March of Return demonstrations began along the Gaza Strip perimeter fence in 2018, Israel has employed an unlawful open-fire policy against them, shooting unarmed protesters, with horrific results: more than 200 Palestinians killed, 8,000 wounded, including 1,500 minors and 150 women. 155 protesters lost limbs, including 30 minors. 27 demonstrators were paralyzed. Following are the testimonies of five of the wounded.
In the last round of hostilities, Israel killed 35 Palestinians, including 14 uninvolved civilians. B’Tselem investigated three of the bombings. One particular case helped shed light on Israeli bombings in Gaza as a whole, revealing sites listed in the military’s “target bank” are rarely reassessed before an attack, nor are attempts made to ensure the absence of civilians. This policy, formulated by top government and military officials and backed by military legal advisors, persists despite its horrifying results.
Most of the 216 Palestinians killed and thousands injured in the Great March of Return protests up to July 2019 were hit by live fire. However, Israel also makes deadly use of crowd control weapons, including teargas canisters which are not designed to hit people directly. At least 7 Palestinians, including 4 minors were killed by a direct teargas canister hit. Firing teargas canisters directly at protestors is not a stand-alone practice, but part of Israel’s patently unlawful and immoral open-fire policy along the Gaza border.
Israel’s unlawful open-fire policy during the demonstrations along the Gaza perimeter fence – which were upheld by the Supreme Court – have so far resulted in hundreds of Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries. Official sources now admit that they were well aware that people were being killed when even the State did not claim that this is justified. Despite this, no-one has taken action to amend the open-fire regulations. Instead, the military continued with its trial-and-error approach, ignoring the fact that human lives were at stake: people whose lives have been taken, and families who have been permanently devastated.
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.