In recent months, B’Tselem has documented more than 10 cases in which soldiers fired live and “rubber” bullets at the legs of Palestinians trying to enter Israel for work through gaps in the Separation Barrier. At least 17 were injured. The authorities willfully overlook the fact that thousands of Palestinians enter Israel without permits every day to work. It is not clear who suddenly decided to shoot at the legs of the workers and why. It is clear that shooting people who pose no danger is illegal.
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.
On 17 Nov. 2019, Palestinan children and teens threw stones at Israeli oldiers near the boys’ school at al-Jalazun RC. About half an hour later, soldiers and at least one person in civilian clothes opened fire at children hiding near the entrance to the camp, injuring two of them, aged 11 and 13. This illegal shooting is illustrative of the military’s trigger-happy policy, backed and bolstered by a military law enforcement system that ensures no accountability.
On 11 Nov. 2019, a soldier shot and killed ‘Omar al-Badawi as he was trying to put out a fire at the front of his house. B’Tselem’s investigation and video footage of the incident show al-Badawi was shot for no reason and without justification, while advancing slowly and signaling to soldiers not to fire. His death is not solely the responsibility of the soldier who shot him, but of all those responsible for the MAG Corps’ whitewashing protocol that allows these shootings to recur with no accountability.
On 18 Oct. 2019, Ra’d al-Bahri, 25, walked up to a checkpoint in the Tulkarm area, ignoring warnings from a Palestinian and shots fired in the air by a security guard. The guard shot him in the legs from mere meters away and other guards shot and killed him when he attempted to stand up. Al-Bahri was not posing any threat to the guards, who could easily have handled the situation with non-lethal means. Such unjustified shootings are part of a deliberate policy adopted by the Israeli security forces since October 2015.
The MAG Corps has closed three more case files of Palestinians who were killed by soldiers, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit recently notified AP. B’Tselem investigated the incidents soon after they occurred in early 2018, and found that all three killings were unjustified. Nevertheless, and even though the incidents should not have had fatal consequences – not even by the standards of military regulations – the very fact that investigations were undertaken has once again created an illusion of a functioning apparatus for seeking accountability. At the end of the day, these belated so-called investigations ended in whitewashing:
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.
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.