On 18 Sept. 2019, Nayfeh Ka’abneh, 50, a mother of nine from Ramun, came to Qalandiya Checkpoint and drew a knife from her sleeve. Security guards shot her from some 10 meters away and left her lying for about half an hour before allowing medics to approach and take her to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Live fire has become the go-to response to Palestinians wielding knives, including women and children, and receives automatic backing – even when it is unjustified and the danger could clearly be averted with less injurious means.
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.
Since mid-June, as collective punishment, the police have been harassing residents of al-’Esawiyah over alleged stone. On 27 June 2019, when police harassed residents, young men threw stones at them, incl. one – Muhammad ‘Abeid, 21 – who shot firecrackers at them. A policeman shot a live round at ‘Abeid, hitting him in the chest. The police pursued residents who were taking ‘Abeid for medical attention, snatched him and took him to the hospital themselves, where he was pronounced dead. The police harassment of al-’Esawiyah residents, including ‘Abeid’s killing, is an inseparable part of Israel’s policy in East Jerusalem designed to secure a Jewish majority in the city.
B'Tselem investigation published today proves a soldier fired live ammunition, hitting ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, 9, in the head. A-Shteiwi was injured last week while playing in the entrance to a home in Kafr Qadum during the weekly demonstration in the village. Now hospitalized in critical condition, he is the latest victim of the reckless open-fire policy that allows soldiers to use live fire even when neither they nor anyone else is in any danger.
In June, we released our findings on the hostilities between Israel and militant organizations in Gaza in early May and the civilians killed and injured during Israeli attacks. Today, B'Tselem releases further research focusing on two buildings that were destroyed after the military gave their occupants only several minutes to evacuate and the immense harm suffered by residential and commercial tenants in them. Building occupants spoke to B'Tselem field researcher Olfat al-Kurd about the terror of having to vacate on a moment’s notice and the destruction meted on their lives.
On the last Friday of Ramadan, in two separate incidents, Border Police opened fire at two Palestinian youths trying to cross the Separation Barrier near Beit Sahur to attend prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque. One (15 years old) was killed and the other injured. B’Tselem found that neither had – nor could have – posed mortal danger, being in broad daylight, on a buffer path between two fences, facing armed and ready officers in protective gear. The fact that the predictable and deadly outcome of this egregious conduct is met by public indifference and that the conduct receives the full backing of all official bodies demonstrates just how little worth is accorded Palestinian lives.
B’Tselem today published its investigation of the recent bout of hostilities in Gaza. During this latest round, the Palestinian military branches killed 4 Israeli civilians. Targeting the civilian population in Israel is unlawful and immoral. During the same time period, Israel killed 25 Palestinians, including 13 who were uninvolved in the hostilities, 2 of them minors. Israel’s actions were undertaken as part of the unlawful and immoral policy of attacking homes which it has been implementing in Gaza for years and which has already caused the deaths of thousands of civilians, hundreds of them minors.
On 20 March 2019, Maysaa and ‘Alaa Ghayadah were on their home with their two daughters. Following an argument on the road, ‘Alaa pulled over near a checkpoint and got out of the car. Soldiers in a nearby watchtower shot him, hitting him in the stomach. Maysaa flagged down a passing car: three of the passengers took ‘Alaa to hospital. The fourth, Ahmad Manasrah, 22, tried to start the car to get Maysaa and her daughters away from the spot, but the soldiers at the watchtower shot and killed him. His death is one of four that B’Tselem has investigated since the beginning of March, in which the use of lethal gunfire was found to be clearly unjustified.
Waging another war in the Gaza Strip is a folly that will enhance no-one’s safety or wellbeing. It will merely exacerbate the suffering of civilians on both sides. The Israeli government must lift the stifling blockade it has imposed on the residents of the Gaza Strip; Hamas must cease firing at civilians.
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.