On 20 Nov. 2017, Israeli Border Police harassed Palestinian teens in Batan al-Hawa. An officer pepper-sprayed one of them, 15, in the face from very close range, for no reason. When his father tried to complain, the police arrested him for “threatening a police officer”. He was taken to a police station, interrogated and released on bail. This is not unusual conduct. Police brutality and false arrests are nothing new in Batan al-Hawa, a neighborhood where the largest expulsion in East Jerusalem in recent years is currently underway.
On 7 Nov. 2017, Israeli police writing traffic tickets in Batan al-Hawa, Silwan, detained a Palestinian, 15, cycling by. When their demand to see his ID card went unmet, as he is too young to have one, an officer assaulted him and pinned him to the ground. A cousin who tried to intervene was pepper-sprayed. Both teens were arrested and the younger fined for riding without a helmet. This incident exemplifies deliberate harassment in a neighborhood under settler takeover, and the default use of arrest against Palestinian teens in East Jerusalem.
On the night of 22 Oct. 2017, Israeli police raided homes in al-‘Esawiyah in East Jerusalem and arrested 51 Palestinians, including 26 teens. Some of the minors, held in custody for a day or two, reported being beaten and forced to kneel for hours without food or drink. They were interrogated without a parent present and made to sign statements in Hebrew. Some did not see a lawyer. This conduct is part of a policy allowing systemic abuse of the human rights of hundreds of Palestinian minors a year, for decades, under a thin veneer of legality.
On 11 Nov. 2017, settlers held a procession in Hebron’s Old City and the military shut down streets and shops along their way. The settlers tore down Palestinian flags hanging on closed shop doors, to which several Palestinian onlookers responded in protest. A soldier hit one of them, a 16-year-old, on the head with a rifle butt. This violence is part of daily life under occupation. It is not limited to beatings, but also takes the form of extreme restrictions imposed on Palestinians in the city to accommodate settlers.
On 31 Oct. 2017, a soldier fired at a passing car in the West Bank, injuring driver Muhammad Musa and his sister, Latifah. Israeli personnel did not offer first aid, stopped treatment by Palestinian paramedics and carelessly transferred the driver to an ambulance that took him to an Israeli hospital, where he died. B’Tselem’s investigation found that the shooting was unjustified. MPIU is reportedly investigating, but experience shows this will likely end in nothing. Musa is the 36th casualty of Israeli security forces in the West Bank in 2017.
Video footage which reached B’Tselem shows a large group of soldiers violently dragging a Palestinian youth. A Hebron resident began recording the incident after hearing the youth crying out in pain. The violent incident took place on Friday, 8 Dec. 2017, on Wadi al-Tufah Street in the city of Hebron. Demonstrations were held that day across the Occupied Territories, including in Hebron, to protest U.S. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Very recently, when closing the investigation against the spokesperson of Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, senior State Attorney officials tried to create the false impression that acts of violence by soldiers against Palestinians are an anomaly which always prompts an investigation.
A new B’Tselem report, Made in Israel, reveals how Israel exploits the West Bank to treat waste – including hazardous waste – generated in Israel. In so doing, Israel abuses its power as an occupying power. It exposes the Palestinian residents – who are excluded from the decision-making process – to environmental and health hazards. This reality is simply one more facet of the exploitative policy Israel has practiced consistently for fifty years now, using Palestinian space and people to further its own interests, as if the West Bank were its sovereign territory.
Faten Ahmad, 26, from Gaza, died of cancer in August. As the treatment she needed was unavailable in Gaza, she asked to receive it in East Jerusalem. Only one of her nine applications for a permit to leave Gaza was accepted. Every year, thousands apply to receive critical medical treatment in Israel or the West Bank. Last year, about half were not answered or were refused. Responsibility for conditions in Gaza, including the level of healthcare there, lies with Israel. Approving these requests is not an act of grace but a legal and moral duty.
In October and November 2017, B'Tselem documented four instances in which Israeli soldiers harassed Palestinian students and teachers crossing through a gate installed between their school and the road leading to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. These restrictions compound the constant harassment of Palestinian residents by security forces and settlers in Hebron. This intolerable reality has driven many Palestinians out of central Hebron and caused a economic collapse of the city center – effectively a form of silent transfer.
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.