Bab al- Majles is a neighborhood in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. Once a rich cultural and social hub, a major route crossed by Muslim worshippers on their way to al-Aqsa Mosque, the neighborhood has been under a chokehold since the police put up a checkpoint at its entrance in the summer of 2014, imposing severe access restrictions, which severely harmed residents’ lives and livelihoods. This is collective punishment of the entire neighborhood. Israel must remove the checkpoints and allow residents to resume their normal lives.
Yoav Gross, Director of B’Tselem’s Video Department, visited Bab al-Majles with Mus’ab ‘Abbas, our field researcher in East Jerusalem. He took pictures of what life is like under the severe restrictions imposed on the neighborhood.
Since the start of 2016, Israel has demolished three homes as collective punishment for attacks against Israeli civilians committed by family members. This left 18 persons homeless, including seven minors. Security forces have also surveyed dozens of homes slated for future demolition. Despite the extreme nature of this act and the clear position of jurists that it is illegal, the HCJ repeatedly approves the demolitions. Demolishing or sealing homes is a draconian, vindictive action targeting entire families not suspected of any offense.
On 16 Dec. 2015 approval to deposit a plan for review was given for a plan to build 891 residential units south of the neighborhood of Gilo, which is on West Bank land unilaterally annexed to Jerusalem. The southward expansion lays the groundwork for annexation by creating a contiguous bloc between Gilo and the settlement of Har Gilo. The Cremisan Valley, an area under the plan that serves Palestinians as a vital source of income and for recreation, will apparently become a free public space for the residents of Gilo and Har Gilo. This belies the security justification for the barrier’s route accepted by the High Court, and exemplifies Israel’s annexationist policy.
B’Tselem Executive Director El-Ad in an op-ed in +972 Magazine: Netanyahu recently proposed that Israel revoke the residency status of tens of thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem who live beyond the Separation Barrier. This appalling idea will merely continue what is already in motion: years of ‘quiet transfer’ and a decade of isolating the Palestinian neighborhoods east of the Separation Barrier
B’Tselem Executive Director El-Ad in an op-ed in Israeli daily Haaretz: The political and legal systems have been thrown into turmoil by Supreme Court Justice Vogelman scheduling an emergency hearing on demolition of the homes of the families of Palestinian perpetrators of attacks. Yet all party to this round of legal-administrative brutality can breathe easy: demolitions were sanctioned, are sanctioned, will be sanctioned by the court. Then, a family – which no one claims is guilty of any wrongdoing – will find its home reduced to a pile of rubble, or poured full of concrete.
Since 14 Oct. 2015, security forces have implemented the closure policy approved by the Israeli cabinet. Thirty-five checkpoints and concrete roadblocks have been placed at entrances to villages and neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and on internal roads, severely disrupting the lives of some 300,000 Palestinian residents. This constitutes the prohibited collective punishment of a population that lives under occupation and suffers ongoing violation of its rights. The vast majority of this population is not involved in attacks against Israelis.
The Occupation is now in its 49th year. Recent weeks have seen dozens of horrific attacks on Israelis by Palestinians. Israeli government officials have been calling explicitly to “shoot to kill”; hundreds of Palestinians have been injured and several killed in demonstrations. B’Tselem reiterates its condemnation of attacks against civilians. The government sees the current violence as an eruption of hatred that occurred in a vacuum, while rejecting any responsibility of its own for the situation. Yet recent events cannot be viewed in isolation from the ongoing oppression of 4 million people.
Authorities Oct. 6 demolition of two flats and sealing of another in East Jerusalem as collective punishment for attacks by occupant’s relatives left 13, including 7 children, homeless. Most did not live in the units slated for demolition. A policy of demolition attackers’ family homes is collective punishment - prohibited under IHL. Despite widely held legal experts’ opinion that this radical measure is unlawful, the HCJ repeatedly approves it. Demolishing or sealing a home is a draconian measure targeting entire families who have done nothing and are suspected of nothing.
Israeli PM is reportedly seeking clearance to use live fire against stone-throwers in East Jerusalem after an incident in which a Jerusalem resident was killed following suspected stone-throwing. The move would allow police to use potentially lethal Two-Two bullets. A police plan to use assault dogs and collective punishment against East Jerusalem residents was reportedly approved. The authorities must keep the peace and protect residents, but their approach unlawfully and immorally ignores deep-seated discrimination and human rights abuses in East Jerusalem, while using increasingly violent measures against residents there.
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.