In 2018, Israeli security forces killed 290 Palestinians, including 55 minors. Of the casualties, 254 were killed in the Gaza Strip, 34 in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and two within Israel. These incidents are a direct result of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and the top military command, and backed by the judicial system. As long as Israel adheres to this policy, despite its predictable outcomes, the casualties will continue to amass.
Every day, Israel determines what the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank will look like – while they, themselves, are barred from taking part in decisions that shape their present and their future. Israel uses its power in a violent, arbitrary fashion, with blatant disregard for the safety, wellbeing and quality of life of the Palestinians who live under its control.
As of 5 Dec. 2018, for more than a month, the military closed off a road that links Ramallah with villages northwest of the city and the entire area with the Ni’lin checkpoint, which thousands of laborers and businesspeople cross daily into Israel. This forced tens of thousands of Palestinians to use a treacherous alternate road. Israel’s arbitrary closure of roads has a particularly disruptive impact on daily life. The closure was unlawful and constituted deliberate collective punishment of residents whose only “crime” was living there.
On 13 Dec. 2018, a Palestinian opened fire near the settlement of Givat Assaf, killing two soldiers and seriously injuring another soldier and a woman. Following the incident, large numbers of settlers set out to attack Palestinians. These attacks were predictable, yet the security forces did nothing to prevent them. This behavior by the security forces was also predictable. Settler attacks on Palestinians, in the presence and under the protection of the security forces, have long since become routine throughout the West Bank. It is clear to Palestinians today that no-one will protect them and their property and that no-one will be held to account when they are attacked.
Yet again, settlers vandalized Palestinian property. Yet again, the military saw nothing. Yet again, the police is having difficulty carrying out an investigation and tracking down the offenders. Yet again - because the perpetrators are settlers and the victims are Palestinians. These are not isolated incidents. They are a reflection of Israel’s policy in the West Bank, which leaves Palestinian homes, fields, vehicles and belongings unprotected and constantly vulnerable to attacks by settlers. View photoblog
In early September we published a review of attacks carried out by settlers from Yitzhar and its outposts against Palestinians from 'Urif, with the escort or active involvement of soldiers. This intensified in October and November. These are not isolated incidents but part of a deliberate state policy to dispossess as many Palestinians as possible, damage their property and livelihood, and drive them to leave their land as though of their own accord - facilitating a takeover and de facto annexation of the land to settlements.
Along with his towering literary legacy, Oz was a beacon in the struggle against the occupation, courageously and resolutely fighting for a future of human rights, justice and equality for everyone living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. We are grateful for his longstanding support for B’Tselem and for being part of our public council. May he rest in peace.
On 14 July 2018, the Israeli military carried out an airstrike on a building in Gaza which it claimed the Hamas used for training purposes. A joint investigation by B’Tselem and Forensic Architecture found that the strike began with the launching of four missiles the military termed “warning missiles.” The first killed two 14-year-olds who were sitting on the rooftop at the time. The investigation also found that the video clip the military released of the attack omits footage of the strike in which the two boys were killed while the impact of the third missile is shown twice. The firing of lethal missiles as a means of warning is unlawful and, for all intents and purposes, constitutes an attack. As such, the action must abide by the applicable rules set out in international law, including adhering to the principle of proportionality and the duty to provide effective warning. None of this was done in the case at hand.
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.