On 23 June 2020, around midnight, soldiers stopped a car at a flying checkpoint outside Hebron and ordered the driver, Mu’tasem Qawasmeh, 24, and the two friends who were with him to get out and stand by the side of the road. They then assaulted Qawasmeh while keeping his friends from intervening. The assault ended when a military jeep arrived. Qawasmeh said: “I got home at 4:00 A.M. My wife and son were awake, waiting for me. I hugged my son and burst out crying. I was exhausted and felt helpless.”
On 25 June and 7 July 2020, dozens of soldiers raided two homes of the Abu Hashhsash family in al-Fawwar R.C. under the pretext of searching for three family members. In one home, soldiers attacked family members, and in another, they beat a minor and set a dog on him and on other relatives. In both cases, the ISA threatened the soldiers would return unless the wanted persons turned themselves in. Military raids of Palestinian homes at night are by now a fixture in the violent routine of the occupation – even at the height of a pandemic.
On Thursday, 25 June 2020, soldiers detained Walid Ghazal on his way to work in central Hebron and, for no apparent reason, ordered him at gunpoint to undress. Ghazal took his top shirt off, but the soldiers insisted he strip completely in public. After relatives intervened and other soldiers arrived, he was taken to a police station, where he was detained for three hours. This case is not an exception; it is part of the violent routine of physical and verbal abuse that Israeli security forces impose on Palestinians throughout the West Bank.
Since 2012, the Israeli military has treated the Palestinian residential complex northwest of Nablus as training grounds to use at will. Soldiers enter at any given time, fire live ammunition and stun grenades among homes and sleep in them, completely disregarding the fact that they are on hard-earned private property. The military treats the residents as pawns in a war game who can be detained, assaulted by dogs, their homes searched and their children woken in the middle of the night, as part of a “training routine”.
In recent weeks, Israeli soldiers have deliberately fired at water tanks in Kafr Qadum during weekly protests held against the closure of the village’s eastern exit. Since April, soldiers have punctured at least 24 tanks on rooftops. This is sheer abuse and constitutes collective punishment for protesting. This conduct is especially grave given the high level of hygiene needed to fight the coronavirus. The shooting continues unbated, indicating support by commanders in the field and conveying disregard for residents’ lives and property.
The report "This is Jerusalem: Violence and Dispossession in al-‘Esawiyah" describes life in the Palestinian neighborhood of al-‘Esawiyah 53 years after East Jerusalem was annexed to Israel. Over the past year, al-‘Esawiyah has become a flashpoint due to a police operation designed primarily to harass residents. In the report, B'Tselem analyzes Israel’s policy of dispossession, deliberate neglect, lack of planning and police violence in the neighborhood, which is an extreme example of its actions throughout East Jerusalem.
The world has ground to a halt, but the violent routine of occupation in the West Bank continues. From 1 March to 3 April 2020, Israeli forces raided 100 homes and arrested 217 Palestinians, 16 of them minors. Many of the arrests took place after 12 March, when Israel and the Palestinian Authority tightened restrictions on movement in the West Bank. Below are descriptions of violent raids in which soldiers forced their way into 12 homes, woke families up, trapped some in a room and damaged their belongings.
On 20 Feb. 2020, four Palestinian teens were driving when a military jeep came towards them. To avoid crashing, the driver swerved and hit a boulder. The soldiers got out, fired at the car and beat two of the boys. One was rushed to hospital and the others detained and interrogated. The military quickly declared a car-ramming attack but released the teens with no action. The fact soldiers can so easily shoot Palestinians and use false claims as justification raises questions about cases in which no witnesses are left to refute the claims.
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.
Israel Police continues to abuse Palestinians in al-’Esawiyah, including false arrests of minors, in operation ongoing since April 2019
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.