Palestinian youth Mohammad Ziad Awwad Salayme was shot dead on his 17th birthday in Hebron. Live ammunition was fired injuring another man and several journalists had to be hospitalised after being beaten on the street. Clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli Occupation forces erupted throughout the city and surrounding areas.
At around 7:30 pm on Wednesday 12 December 2012 a soldier of the Israeli army shot dead Mohammad Salayme, killing him with two bullets to the body and head in the Salayme neigbourhood of Hebron near to the Ibrahimi mosque. Mohammad had spent the day in school and was on his way to buy some cake for him and his family to celebrate his birthday, when suddenly his life was cut short. Another Palestinian man was shot with live ammunition and injured, he was taken to a hospital in the city. The Israeli military claimed Mohammad Salayme was carrying a fake gun, therefore shot him. Mohammad’s father who rushed to administer first aid to his son said he saw no fake gun on him. Sound bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets were fired at Palestinians who tried to help the dying teenager.
The Israeli military closed off all the streets around the area where Mohammed was killed to prevent any journalists from reaching the incident. A car carrying four journalists was hit with several rounds of live ammunition and the journalists were stopped and forced from their car. The journalists, two from Youth Against Settlements, one from Reuters and one from Palmedia were forced to strip to their underwear in the cold evening air. The soldiers took their cameras and physically beat up the journalists resulting in them needing hospital treatment. A filmmaker who works for the Israeli peace group Btselem who lives close to the shooting was surrounded by 12 soldiers, beaten up and arrested. Officers from the District Coordination Office For Military Affairs informed local activists the cameras would be returned to them tomorrow after being checked for evidence.
The Israeli military flooded the city with an enormous amount of soldiers who attempted to clear the streets in a very aggressive manner, throwing sound bombs into groups of remonstrating Palestinians, shooting tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets. This behaviour only antagonised the residents of Hebron turning the tense situation into outright confrontation as clashes erupted throughout the city. The areas of Salayme, Bab Al-Zawiya, Qtoun and Dar Al Binzaid all echoed to the sound of live ammunition, concussion grenades, tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets. Clashes were reported in the nearby city of Yatta and in Dura.
Tensions in Hebron are rising as the Israeli occupation forces are using increased levels of violence in the city ever since the recent Israeli assualt on Gaza. Hamdi Alfalah was killed on November 20th and many people have been injured. Hebron will see another funeral on Thursday 13th of December.
RAMALLAH — Different human rights organizations were able to document last August 26 attacks by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank and noted that there were other attacks not documented for many reasons, according to Haaretz newspaper.
These attacks were reported by B’Tselem, OCHA, Coexistence, and There is Law, organizations active in the occupied Palestinian lands.
The newspaper explained that in four different arson attacks, 19 Palestinians sustained injuries and the most dangerous one happened when Jewish settlers threw a Molotov cocktail at a Palestinian car boarded by six passengers from Nahalin village from the same family. All six Palestinians were admitted to the hospital, two of them were in serious condition and the others suffered moderate burn injuries.
The newspaper also mentioned other incidents in which Palestinians sustained injuries during attacks by settlers. Different arson attacks were reportedly carried out by Jewish extremists on Palestinian homes and cars in different West Bank areas.
- Renegade Jewish Settlers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Settler’s Vehicle Rams Child in Hebron Hit and Run (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish settlers spray toxic substance, kill herd of sheep (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Settlers Empty Palestinian Well, Flood Farmlands (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Number of Jewish settlers in West Bank doubled in 12 years (alethonews.wordpress.com)
DCIPS | April 20, 2010
On 13 July 2009, Jameel (16) and two electricians were to his home when they heard the sound of weapons being cocked and an Israeli soldier saying stop, you mother***r. The four Israeli soldiers verbally abused Jameel, took his ID and broke his mobile phone. Family members soon arrived as they had heard the bews. After several minutes the soldiers marched Jameel toward Ramat Yeshai settlement and told his mother and cousin that it was a closed area and they would be shot at if they followed them, after telling them moments before “go back you whores.”
At a checkpoint near the settlement. Jameel was blindfolded and had his hands tied with plastic cords. He was forced to stand near the checkpoint as 40-50 settlers threw stones and brutally beat him, including punching him in the neck, causing the boy extreme pain and nausea. They also verbally abused him calling him a son of a whore and a motherf***er. Soldiers also brutally beat him. His head was smashed into the ground knocking him unconscious. Jameels family witnessed some of the abuse and his father captured part of the incident on a camera given to him by BTselem. A BTselem fieldworker was also present.
Eventually an officer cut the plastic ties and told Jameel that he could go. He walked away and then was ordered to stop. Grabbing Jameels chin, the officer said: “If you tell the Israeli police or the press or human rights organizations about what happened, I’ll kill you or shoot you from a distance if I can’t reach you.” Jameel went to Ahlia hospital for medical treatment. After leaving the hospital he and his father went to file a complaint at the police station in Kiryat Arba settlement. They were told to come back the next day which they did. They met with an interrogator and signed a paper in Hebrew that allegedly contained what they had said. Following the attack, Jameel suffered from insomnia and feels scared and unsafe around his neighbourhood.
A 24 year-old Palestinian was hit in the head from a live round of bullets Saturday in the village of Asira al-Qibliya. B’Tselem footage of the event shows the settlers shooting at the young man, and Israeli soldiers standing by them – doing nothing to prevent it.
According to B’Tselem, the incident started at around 16:30 Saturday, when a group of settlers descended from the extremist settlement Itzhar towards the Palestinian village (as seen in the first video below). According to eye witnesses the settlers – some of them masked and some armed – started fires in the fields near the village and threw stones at Palestinians who moved towards them, who also started throwing stones at the settlers.
Videos shot by residents of Asira al-Qibliya and B’Tselem show a fire in the fields, settlers and Palestinians in confrontation, and soldiers standing near the settlers, yet mostly uninvolved. Amongst the settlers are three people armed with two rifles and one hand-gun, one of them wearing what seems to be a police hat. According to B’Tselem, one of the rifles is a Tavor – commonly seen in the hands of Israeli soldiers.
At one point (between 0:40-0:55 in the video below) one of the settlers is seen aiming his rifle at something, then Palestinians start throwing stones at him, and then he and his partner open intensive fire towards the stone throwers. A soldier nearing the settlers is seen running away back to the direction he and other soldiers were coming from, not preventing the shooting in any way. After a man in a green shirt is hit the soldiers pull back, Palestinians evacuate the man, and the woman with the camera is heard saying the man was shot in the head (Arabic). It would later be found out that the man is 24 year-old Fathi Asira, who is now in a hospital in Nablus. His condition is defined as stable.
It is worth mentioning that throughout the video soldiers are not seen trying to stop the settlers, nor disperse the two crowds in any way, although their intervention could have prevented the injury. It is unclear from the videos who exactly started the fire, as one can see several settlers trying to put it out, and also a Palestinian fire truck. However, the fire is destroying Palestinian fields very close to the village, and did not appear in the first video showing the settlers’ approach – two facts that might support the Palestinians’ claim that it was started by settlers.
The settlement of Itzhar is notorious for its radical extremism, as well as for the many attacks carried by settlers against Palestinians in neighboring villages. The settlement was also attacked itself by Palestinians, including residents of Asira al-Qibilya.
Settlements: a culture of impunity to the law
Approximately 700 Israelis live in the illegal Israeli settlement adjacent to Asira al-Qibliya. This colony, like 250 others throughout the West Bank, is considered illegal under international law as a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This illegality has been confirmed by the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Security Council.
The recent attack was only one of many in the history of the village. In 2011, similar attacks occurred on a weekly basis. This year, the settlers have attempted attacks on Asira up to 3 times each month. The Israeli settlers participating in these aggressions are not always inhabitants of the area. Nevertheless, they show their unity by wearing similar coloured cloth, on the most recent occasion white t-shirts. This may be an indication of long-term planning behind the attack.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 90% of complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment. OCHA reports that, “ the root cause of the settler violence phenomenon is Israel’s decades-long policy of illegally facilitating the settling of its citizens inside occupied Palestinian territory. This activity has resulted in the progressive takeover of Palestinian land, resources and transportation routes and has created two separate systems of rights and privileges, favoring Israeli citizens at the expense of the over 2.5 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank.”
The residents of Asira al-Qibliya are unable to lead a secure life under the constant threat of harassment, intimidation, and attack by the Israeli Occupation Forces and illegal settlers alike.
- Israeli Army Closes Investigation Into A-Samuni Family Killings (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Yitzhar settlers attack school children in Urif (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The MAG (Military Advocate’s General) Corps informed B’Tselem today that it has closed the Military Police investigation file in the complaint submitted by B’Tselem into the killing of 21 members of the a-Samuni family in the Gaza Strip. The file was closed without taking any measures against those responsible. In a letter sent to B’Tselem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza (PCHR) that filed a complaint into the matter as well, major Dorit Tuval, from the MAG Corps for operational matters wrote that the investigation completely disproved any claim about deliberate harm to civilians, as well as haste and recklessness regarding possible harm to civilians, or criminal negligence. The military’s response does not detail the findings of the investigation, nor does it provide the reasons behind the decision to close the file or any new information about the circumstances.
In response, Adv. Yael Stein, B’Tselem’s head of research, said: it is unacceptable that no one is found responsible for an action of the army that led to the killing of 21 uninvolved civilians, inside the building they entered under soldiers’ orders, even if this was not done deliberately. The way the army has exempted itself of responsibility for this event, even if only to acknowledge its severity and clarify its circumstances, is intolerable. Shirking the responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of other civilians and the immense damage caused by operation Cast Lead demonstrates yet again the need for an Israeli investigation mechanism that is external to the army.
The a-Samuni Family
On 4 January 2009, soldiers gathered about 100 members of the extended a-Samuni family in the house of Wael a-Samuni, in the a-Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City. The next morning, at 6:30 A.M., when a few members of the family tried to leave the house, the military fired a missile or shell at them, killing one person and wounding two other persons. A few seconds later, the military fired two more shells or missiles that hit the house directly. The house collapsed on its occupants, killing 21 persons, including 9 children and many women, and injuring dozens of other family members. Despite repeated requests by the Red Cross, B’Tselem, and other human rights organization, the army prevented removal of the injured people for two days, until 7 January. After the wounded persons were evacuated, the army demolished the house with the dead bodies inside. It was only possible to remove them from under the debris after the army withdrew, about two weeks later.
No accountability for the military’s actions during Operation Cast Lead
Three years after the end of the operation, the dozens of MPIU investigations opened into cases of harm to civilians have yet to yield results. The Military Advocate General Corps has created a haze around them, preventing any possibility of examining their effectiveness. The Corps’ responses to B’Tselem, combined with media reports, indicate that three indictments have been filed against soldiers who took part in the operation: for theft of a credit card from a Palestinian civilian, for use of a nine-year-old Palestinian child as a human shield, and for “manslaughter of an anonymous person.” In three other cases, disciplinary action alone was taken. Two officers were disciplined for firing explosive shells that struck an UNRWA facility; three officers were disciplined for shelling the al-Maqadmeh Mosque, in which 15 Palestinians were killed, nine of them civilians; and one officer was disciplined for the use of Palestinian civilian as a human shield,
These meager results are not surprising. The investigations were all opened at a very late stage – the first, to B’Tselem knowledge, in October 2009, a full ten months after the operation had ended. At present, three years after the operation, there is hardly a chance that investigations will lead to further indictments.
There has never been a serious investigation into the suspicions raised by B’Tselem and additional Israeli, Palestinian and international organizations regarding breaches of international humanitarian law by the military during the operation. Most of B’Tselem’s demands for investigation were not met. The investigations that were opened did not, to B’Tselem’s knowledge, address the responsibility of high-ranking commanders, but rather focused on the conduct of individual soldiers.
- Israeli commander won’t face charges in controversial 2009 Gaza attack (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
As organizations dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights—including those acting as legal representatives for war crimes victims— we are disappointed by B’Tselem’s active participation in an upcoming event at which former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be featured as a keynote speaker.
Olmert has been implicated in the commission of war crimes and other serious violations of international law for his role in Operation ‘Cast Lead’, Israel’s winter 2008-2009 onslaught on the Gaza Strip. A court in the U.K. has already issued an arrest warrant for one of Olmert’s alleged co-conspirators in these acts, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni.
Olmert will speak at a gala dinner on Monday hosted by J Street, a self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby group in Washington, DC. Olmert’s speech will be the keynote for J Street’s annual conference. Last week, B’Tselem sent an email to its supporters announcing that it was “proud” of its role in the conference, explicitly mentioning Olmert as a featured speaker.
B’Tselem’s active participation in this event sends a dangerous message. It undermines the fundamental importance of accountability for international crimes, disregards victims’ right to dignity and justice, and implies that political processes may override human rights standards. B’Tselem should be protesting, not celebrating, an event welcoming Olmert.
The decision to release this statement was not taken lightly. We highly value the relationship between Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations, and can look back on many years of successful professional cooperation.
For some Palestinian organizations – particularly those from the Gaza Strip – the relationship with Israeli counterparts is often the last remaining link with Israeli society. This is a link which we all wish to see strengthened and developed.
However, as human rights defenders, we are united by our standards: by our belief in the universality of human rights and the rule of international law. Our legitimacy derives from our unwavering commitment to these principles, and our obligations to act in the best interests of the victims we represent.
We call upon B’Tselem to withdraw from this event, and to use this opportunity to highlight the need for accountability, justice, and the enforcement of the rule of law.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Al Dameer Association for Human Rights
The Palestinian NGO Network (representative of 132 Palestinian ngo’s)
BETHLEHEM – Israel has designated some 900,000 dunams of the occupied West Bank as Israeli state land, using procedures that break local and international laws, an Israeli human rights group said Wednesday.
“Large swaths of land have been classified state land and designated for use by settlements, despite the fact that they belong to Palestinian individuals or communities,” according to a new report by B’Tselem.
The study says Palestinian land “was taken from their lawful owners by legal manipulation and in breach of local law and international law alike.”
After an Israeli court ruled the state could not build settlements on private Palestinian land in 1979, Israel’s state attorney office redefined the requirements for designating land state-owned, the study says.
The report reviews Israeli policies in light of relevant laws in the West Bank before it was occupied by Israel in 1967.
B’Tselem says Israel disregarded community rights to land used for grazing, redefined what was classified as ‘cultivated land’ and extended the requirement for continuous cultivation of the land.
Israel’s legal stance increased state land in the West Bank from 527,000 dunums prior to Israel’s occupation, to more than 1.427 million dunams, an expansion of more than 170 percent, the report says.
Under international law, state land does not belong to Israel, and should be used to benefit Palestinians while the West Bank is under military occupation, B’Tselem adds.
“Despite this obligation, the percentage of state land that Israel has designated for Palestinians is negligible. Virtually all state land has been designated for exclusive use by the settlements,” the report notes.
The Israeli rights group says a recent deal to move a settler outpost to state land is thus illegal, calling on the Israeli government to revoke the agreement.
After months of negotiations, on Sunday the government agreed with Migron settlers that they relocate a few kilometers away, to meet a high court ruling that ordered the outpost be removed by by March 31, 2012 as it lies on land with demonstrated Palestinian-ownership.
The families are relocating to another already-established West Bank settlement a few kilometers away.
- West Bank village steps up protests against Israel’s theft of land (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Deal with settlers over illegal outpost ‘a disgrace’ (independent.co.uk)
B’Tselem reports sharp increase in the numbers of Palestinians being held in administrative detention
An Israeli human rights organization has stated that during 2011, the number of Palestinian administrative detainees held by the Israel authorities increased sharply.
B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, noted that according to figures received from the Israel Prison Service, the number of Palestinian administrative detainees being held in Israel increased from 219 in January 2011, to 307 in December. In a press release published on its website, B’Tselem also noted that, “At the end of 2011, Israel was holding one minor in administrative detention.”
“Twenty-nine per cent of the detainees had been held for six months to one year; another 24 per cent from one to two years. Seventeen Palestinians had been in administrative detention continuously for two to four and a half years, and one man has been held for over five years.”
The organization stated that 2011, “marks the first time since 2008 that there was an increase in the number of administrative detainees after the number had fallen from 813 in January 2008, to 204 in December 2010.”
“Administrative detention is detention without trial, intended to prevent a person from committing an act that is liable to endanger public safety. … [Un]like a criminal proceeding, administrative detention is not intended to punish a person for an offense already committed, but to prevent a future danger. The manner in which Israel uses administrative detention is patently illegal. Administrative detainees are not told the reason for their detention or the specific allegations against them. Although detainees are brought before a judge to approve the detention order, most of the material submitted by the prosecution is classified and not shown to the detainee or his attorney. Since the detainees do not know the evidence against them, they are unable to refute it,” B’Tselem further stated.
The organization’s website also pointed out that the detainees also do not know when they will be released, although each detention order is specified for a year and a half maximum, but detention orders can be renewed indefinitely.
“Over 60% had their detention extended at least once beyond the first detention order. Administrative detention violates the right to liberty and the right to due process, since the detainee is incarcerated for a prolonged period on the basis of secret evidence, without charge or trial.”
The organization noted that over the years, Israel has held thousands of Palestinians in administrative detention for periods ranging from a few months to several years. There were times during the second intifada that Israel held over a thousand Palestinians in administrative detention. “Under international law, it is permissible to administratively detain a person only in exceptional cases, to prevent a grave danger that cannot be prevented through less harmful means. Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly breaches these rules.” It called on the Israeli army to release all the administrative detainees or prosecute them.
- Minister of Detainees Calls for Boycott of Military Courts (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Raymond McCartney, former Irish hunger striker in message of support to Khader Adnan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Speaker Of Palestine Parliament Receives Six Months Administrative Detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Carter Center calls on Israel to release or charge hunger striker (jta.org)