Between January 13 and January 26, Israeli security forces arrested at least 153 Palestinians, including 13 minors; made at least 116 raids on towns and villages, and raided at least 83 homes; and set up at least 219 flying checkpoints.
On 15 Dec. 2017, at a protest sparked by President Trump’s declaration, a soldier near the Gaza perimeter fence fatally shot Ibrahim Abu Thuraya (a double amputee) in the head. In Dec., another 7 protesters were fatally shot by soldiers on the other side of the fence; none of them posed mortal danger to the soldiers. This is a direct outcome of the military’s open-fire policy near the perimeter fence, which includes gunfire – also by snipers – at stone-throwers who pose no danger. The media reported that a military investigation was launched, yet experience shows it is highly unlikely to yield any action.
In January 2018, soldiers killed 5 Palestinians – 4 of them teenagers – in the West Bank and Gaza. All five were shot during clashes involving stone-throwing at soldiers, though none had posed a mortal threat. Israel’s defense establishment, including the military law enforcement system, is largely indifferent to such incidents and usually ignores them. This renders the open-fire regulations, designed to limit use of lethal fire, meaningless and conveys Israel’s deep disregard for Palestinians’ lives and bodily integrity.
For years, Israel has been leading a policy aimed against Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, with the intention of making the residents leave their homes and thus transfer the communities within the area. The policy is implemented tactically, so as to avoid blatant images of soldiers forcing Palestinians onto trucks. Instead, Israel invests efforts in making the lives of these residents unbearable, in order to get them to leave their homes as though of their own free will. The policy is not applied uniformly to all the communities, and ranges from harassment and preventing development to an explicit intention to expel entire communities. In any case, Israel’s goal is to minimize Palestinian presence in order to use the territory for its own uses, including expanding settlements. Following is a review of the situation of several communities that Israel explicitly declared its intention to expel.
On Monday morning, 5 Feb. 2018, Civil Administration personnel and a Border Police force dismantled and confiscated a water pipeline that had served to irrigate the watermelon patch in Khirbet a-Sakut in the northern Jordan Valley. At around 4:00 P.M. that day, the troops went to the community of Khirbet Um al-Jamal and confiscated four tents that served as the homes of nine people, including six minors. The confiscated tents were funded by a humanitarian aid organization after the Civil Administration demolished tents in the community in 2014.
Since Nov. 2017, the military has imposed harsh travel restrictions on the residents of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills. After residents removed roadblocks, ditches were dug to almost entirely prevent travel in and out of the area. Residents now have to walk long distances on foot, sometimes in rough weather, or suffer damage to private cars that cannot, in any case, transport bulk goods. This is another aspect of the Israeli authorities’ harassment of these Palestinians for decades, to pressure them to leave the area.
Following an attack in which Palestinians killed Raziel Shevach near Havat Gilad on 9 Jan., settlers threw stones at cars and homes in the area. The military then barred Palestinian traffic along a section of Route 60 for 3 weeks. The day after the attack, Havat Gilad settlers threw stones at homes in Far’ata, breaking windows. No one was arrested. These repeated settler attacks undermine the sense of personal security of local residents, who are constantly at risk of attack. The complete lack of accountability teaches settlers they may attack Palestinians with impunity.
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.