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From the field

2008 Annual Report: Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

B'Tselem releases 2008 annual report - among the findings:

Of the 548 Palestinians Israel is detaining without trial, 42 have been held for over two years, according to figures appearing in B'Tselem's annual report, published today. Twenty-three have been administratively detained for over two and a half years, including three who have been detained between three and four and a half years, and two over four and a half consecutive years. In fact, the vast majority of administrative detainees (372) have been held without charge or trial for at least two consecutive periods.

In 2008, the number of administrative detainees dropped gradually: from 813 in January to 546 in December. Six of the detainees in December were minors. For the first time, Israel held two female minors in administrative detention; both had their detention period extended for a second period. B'Tselem demands that Israel immediately release all administrative detainees, or try them for the offences they are alleged to have committed. The total number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli custody at the end of December was 7,904.


B'Tselem's annual report also includes figures on the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed during the course of the year (not including in Operation Cast Lead). Up until December 26, Israeli security forces killed 455 Palestinians (including eighty-seven minors). At least 175 of those killed (38 percent) did not take part in the hostilities.

18 Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians inside Israel. Eight of them (four minors), were killed in the attack at the Merkaz Harav yeshiva, in Jerusalem and Four were killed by rocket attacks and mortar fire. Three Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians in the Territories. Palestinians killed ten members of the Israeli security forces.

Restrictions on movement

In contrast to official Israeli claims, Palestinian freedom of movement did not improve significantly in 2008. There are sixty-three permanent staffed checkpoints inside the West Bank, eighteen of them in the city of Hebron. In addition, the army restricts Palestinian movement on 430 kilometers of roads, on which Israelis are allowed free use. On 137 kilometers of these roads, Palestinian travel is completely prohibited. Forty checkpoints serve as crossing points into Israel, although most are them are located a few kilometers inside the West Bank, and not along the Israeli border. The number of physical obstructions Israel maintained in the West Bank actually increased in 2008. In the first nine months of 2008, the average number of such obstructions was 537, compared with a monthly average of 459 in 2007.

B'Tselem's annual report surveys many additional violations of human rights in the Occupied Territories during 2008. Among them: house demolition, the continued construction of the separation barrier within the West Bank, settlement expansion and the lack of law enforcement on violent settlers. The report also addresses the systematic lack of accountability for harm caused to Palestinians by Israeli security forces.