Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘B’Tselem

Israel forced 3,000 Palestinians out of their homes in Jerusalem in 15 years, NGO

Apr 29,2019

Israeli occupation does not give building licenses to Palestinians, while pay generously to build homes for Jews.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, revealed on Sunday that Israeli occupation authorities have forced around 3,000 Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem between 2004 and 2019.

“The Jerusalem Municipality demolished 830 residential units, and 120 more were demolished by their owners on the municipality’s orders,” explained B’Tselem in a report published on its website. “The municipality deliberately left 2,927 people homeless, 1,574 of them minors.”

The report points out that the Israeli-run municipality adopts policies which have deliberately created an acute construction crisis for the city’s Palestinian population, while Jewish neighbourhoods enjoy massive development and substantial funding.

“Israel has expropriated more than a third of the land it annexed from the West Bank and has built 11 neighbourhoods exclusively for Jews,” said B’Tselem.

It noted that these neighbourhoods are as illegal under international law as Israel’s settlements are in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli authorities use a number of strategies to block Palestinian use of the land. According to the human rights report, they either declare Palestinian-owned land as “open scenic areas”, where development is forbidden, or as national parks, where construction and urban development are almost entirely forbidden.

In other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories, large areas, including towns and villages, are declared to be “military zones” almost as a matter of routine, and residents have to leave their homes for set periods when the army moves in.

The Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem “have no choice” but to build without permits because the Israeli municipality rarely grants the right to build or extend homes.

Israeli occupation estimates that between 15,000 and 20,000 Arab homes have been built or extended without planning permission in the past five years.

“Thousands of Palestinians in the city are living under constant threat to their homes and businesses; in many cases, the authorities follow through on this threat or force residents to demolish the structures themselves,” said B’Tselem.

It added: “Israel does not see the residents of East Jerusalem [the Palestinians] as human beings with equal rights, but as people it strives to remove from their homes, as they are an obstacle to Judaising the city.”

The measures adopted by Israel to achieve that end, added the respected human rights group, are all illegal.

According to the Israeli NGO, the Israeli occupation “deliberately denying Palestinians construction permits for residential and other purposes, issuing demolition orders for structures built without a permit for lack of choice, and demolishing dozens of such structures a year.”

Israel, concluded B’Tselem, has implemented this policy, designed to clear parts of the city of Palestinians, since occupying the West Bank and annexing East Jerusalem and the surrounding villages [in 1967].

 

The IDF doesn’t investigate Palestinian deaths — it whitewashes them

The Israeli army says it would like to conduct thorough investigations of the Palestinians it kills or wounds. The only problem? It is unable to do so honestly.

By Hagai El-Ad

Israeli Border Police officers take positions during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank city of Hebron, July 14, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Israeli Border Police officers take positions during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank city of Hebron, July 14, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

A little over a year ago, on the last day of October 2017, Muhammad Musa and his sister Latifah drove to Ramallah to run some errands. Shortly after the two filmed a short selfie video during the ride, soldiers opened fire at their car near Halamish junction. Latifah was wounded, Muhammad was killed. He was 26.

B’Tselem’s investigation into his killing was made public about five weeks later, and included several eye witness accounts as well as testimonies from paramedics who arrived on the scene. One of these eyewitnesses, Muhammad Nafe’a, is identified by his full name, photo, address, and occupation.

And yet, the Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) still somehow wrote to B’Tselem, almost six months later in May 2018, that it would be grateful “to receive Muhammad Nafe’a’s full personal information in order to contact him and arrange to have him give his statement on the matter.”

Welcome to the parallel universe known as “MPIU investigations.” In this universe, “investigations” proceed at lightning speed, and the military — which fully controls the West Bank and has little trouble getting its hands on Palestinians — acts as if it cannot locate a witness without the assistance of a human rights organization, even when his details are available for all to see, along with the rest of the findings of an independent investigation published long ago.

If this were a comedy, the awkwardness and absurdity of it all would have been quite amusing. But this is reality, not theatre. Investigating killings is enormously important, both in terms of justice for the victims, and to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

The pitiful display in the “investigation” of Muhammad Musa’s killing is no aberration — it is part of the military law enforcement system’s longstanding policy, which affects hundreds, if not more, of cases of killings, injuries, and violence.

The extensive experience B’Tselem has gained over the decades as it attempted to promote accountability has shown that the system has no real interest in advancing investigations and bringing justice to the victims. Its main objective is to create the appearance of a functioning legal system, while effectively whitewashing the offenses and protecting those who caused harm without justification.

Here are the figures: since the beginning of the Second Intifada in late 2000 until 2015, B’Tselem demanded the MPIU open an investigation in 739 cases in which soldiers killed or otherwise harmed Palestinians.

97% of those cases were closed, either after an “investigation” was conducted, or even without launching one. Indictments were filed in only 25 cases. The number of convictions is obviously even much lower. Suffice it so say, hardly anyone is ever held accountable.

Palestinians mourn at the funeral of 22-year old Palestinian Ilyas Yasin, who was killed by Israeli soldiers after an alleged knife attack in October, Salfit, West Bank on December 29, 2018. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Palestinians mourn at the funeral of 22-year old Palestinian Ilyas Yasin, who was killed by Israeli soldiers after an alleged knife attack in October, Salfit, West Bank on December 29, 2018. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

These figures are a direct result of the way the system functions.

Firstly, it is inaccessible to Palestinian complainants — the victims it is supposed to protect. Secondly, the investigations drag on for months, even years, and are almost entirely based on interviews with the suspects and in some cases the victims, rather than external evidence. Without evidence, the Military Advocate for Operational Matters, who receives the investigation file, can close it for that very reason.

The Military Advocate General, who is tasked both with advising the military on the legality of its actions and directives, as well as deciding whether to launch investigations into incidents arising from those very actions and directives, finds himself in a conflict of interests.

To top it all off, the entire system is confined to looking at the conduct of soldiers on the ground rather than at that of the top brass and the policy makers. In these circumstances, its ability to actually procure justice is extremely limited.

Some two-and-a-half years ago, B’Tselem decided to stop demanding the Israeli army open investigations and to cease abetting the MPIU’s whitewashing. The organization has since continued to conduct independent investigations into cases in which security forces harm Palestinians, and has investigated most incidents in which Palestinian civilians were killed.

B’Tselem no longer contacts the MPIU, but it does publish its findings to the public, as in the death of Muhammad Musa and hundreds like it.

Although B’Tselem’s position is public and well known, MPIU officials still occasionally send the organization all sorts of requests relating to their “investigations.” Sometimes they ask for information that has already been made public, other times the ask for help locating witnesses the military has no trouble finding, and so on.

B’Tselem received such requests regarding the killing of Ahmad Zidani, a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead by security forces as he was running away from them; or, Ali Qinu, also 17, who was shot in the head by soldiers; or Ahmad Salim, 28, also fatally shot in the head; or Muhammad Musa.

CCTV footage of Israeli soldiers shooting Muhammad Habali in the back of the head in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on Dec. 4, 2018. (Photo: Screenshot of footage released by B'Tselem)

CCTV footage of Israeli soldiers shooting Muhammad Habali in the back of the head in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on Dec. 4, 2018. (Photo: Screenshot of footage released by B’Tselem)

B’Tselem recently received another letter from the MPIU regarding what they call “the occasion of the death of Muhammad Habali,” a Palestinian with a mental disability who was shot in the head by soldiers in early December.

The soldiers fired from a distance of about 80 meters as Habali ran away from them; he did not pose a threat. In the letter, the MPIU investigator says he will conduct a “thorough investigation,” and asked for the video footage as well as for a witnesses’ contact information.

B’Tselem had already uploaded the full, unedited video footage online. The MPIU’s repeated request for the contact information speaks volumes about the the true nature of its investigations.

And here is the response B’Tselem sent to MPIU Commander Col. Gil Mamon:

In your letter you contacted us regarding the “event of Muhammad Habali’s death” in Tulkarm on December 4, 2018.

Paper, evidently, does not blush. However, since you have outdone yourselves, it is necessary to set the record straight and clarify that what you refer to as “the occasion of death” was the killing of a passerby from a distance by a soldier.

You further note in your letter that you intend to conduct a ‘thorough investigation’ in order to ‘reach the truth.’ However, given our years of experience with the whitewashing mechanism referred to as the MPIU, the first part is not true, and the second will not happen.

As an aside, we note that contrary to the manner in which you spelled the organization’s name in your letter, it is not an acronym.

Our name is the biblical word, B’Tselem, ‘in the image of.’ See Genesis 1:27: ‘And God created humankind in His image. In the image of God did He create them.’

B’Tselem is committed to to continuing its independent work documenting human rights violations committed by security forces in the occupied territories and the lack of accountability for these acts on the part of state authorities.

The organization, however, will continue its work without the military law enforcement system, which perpetuates the violence on the ground. Collaborating with this deception is not simply ineffectual, it is harmful, as it lends credibility to a system that should be condemned, allowing it to carry on legitimizing human rights violations.

This is not merely theoretical. The complete lack of accountability for killing and violence means they are guaranteed to be repeated. This is why B’Tselem will continue investigating, publicizing, and uncovering the truth about the Israeli so-called law enforcement whitewashing — until the occupation ends.

Related stories

‘Fake News!’: The View from Israel’s Occupation

Rebecca Stein. Feb 19, 2018

Among the numerous ideological affinities and governing styles shared by Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a commitment to the rhetoric of ‘fake news.’

In the last year, Netanyahu has increasingly borrowed this Trump formulation in an attempt to quell dissent and undercut critical Israeli and international media scrutiny.

Netanyahu is not unique in this regard. Over the course of the last year, authoritarian regimes across the globe – including Syria, Russia and Malaysia – have adopted the fake news script to silence detractors and critics, frequently in response to the charge of human rights violations.

But while the global scale of this accusation may be unprecedented, charges of fake news have a long history, considerably preceding the Trump era.

In Israel, the accusation of fraudulence, employed against political critics and foes, can be traced to the onset of the Zionist settler-national project.

As post-colonial studies show, the repudiation of indigenous claims (to history, land, humanity and so on) was a foundational logic of colonial projects, enabling the violence of colonialism in its various forms.

This formulation was also at work in the history of Zionism and has had a lasting hold on dominant Israeli ideology.

Over the course of the last two decades, amidst the ascendance of nationalist extremism in Israel, the fraudulence charge has grown ever stronger among the Jewish right-wing public as a popular means of indicting critics and undercutting Palestinian claims, particularly where Israel’s military occupation is concerned.

Mohammed al-Dura

Video footage of Israeli state violence against Palestinians has been a favorite target of this accusation – footage shot by international journalists and human rights workers and increasingly, as cameras have proliferated in the West Bank, by the cameras of Palestinians living under occupation.

It was in the language of fake news that Israelis famously responded to the killing of 12-year-old Mohammad al-Dura by the Israeli security services in 2000, in the early days of the second Intifada.[1]

His killing was filmed by French television and was replayed around the world in the aftermath of the event, becoming no less than a viral global icon of the Israeli military. What ensued was an organized campaign by the Israeli right wing, and their international supporters, to debunk the images as fake.

Netanyahu convened an Israeli government committee of inquiry in 2012 to investigate the incident, and the committee eventually endorsed the popular discourse of fakery, blaming manipulative editing for falsely producing the damning images.

The state committee did more than exonerate the Israeli security services in al-Dura’s death; indeed, they argued that he was Not actually dead.

Right-wing Israeli newspapers put it succinctly in their headlines: “Mohammed al-Dura: The Boy Who Wasn’t Really Killed.” Pleas by the al-Dura family to exhume the boy’s body were declined.

The state committee did more than exonerate the Israeli security services in al-Dura’s death; indeed, they argued that he was not actually dead.

Despite the Israeli response to the al-Dura affair in 2000, it would take nearly two decades for this argument about Palestinian fakery to become commonplace where video evidence of Israeli state violence is concerned.

By 2014, amidst the ascendance of far-right politics in Israel, and the threatening spread of cameras among Palestinians living under occupation, the argument finally gained a mainstream foothold.

Footage from Bitunya

For example, the charge of fake news would predominate in Israel following the killing of 2 Palestinian youths in the West Bank town of Bitunya in 2014, fatally shot by the Israeli security services during an annual demonstration commemorating the Nakba.

The military denied responsibility, claiming that their forces had only used non-lethal rubber bullets that day, in compliance with regulations governing engagement in protest contexts.[2] But the scene had been filmed by numerous on-site cameras, including four security cameras, and those of CNN and a Palestinian photojournalist.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem took on the case, believing that the unusually high volume of associated footage conclusively established military responsibility for the deaths.

But mainstream Israelis felt differently, and the volume of footage from Bitunya did little to persuade them of the military’s responsibility. To the contrary, the videographic evidence fueled a widespread repudiation campaign.

State actors and institutions were among the first to join the fake news chorus, including the defense minister, the foreign minister and official military spokesmen.

All argued that “the film was edited and d[id] not reflect the reality of the day in question.”

Their assertions were parroted by the national media, who insisted that the shootings were “staged and faked.” That accusation was then picked up by right-wing Israelis and supporters internationally.

Some focused on the image of the falling body, arguing for its self-evident theatricality (yet another case of what some called “Pallywood” – the purported Palestinian Hollywood-like industry in manufactured images of Palestinian victims).

Others claimed there was a lack of adequate blood in the footage, proof that the victim had not been killed. Most proponents of the fraudulence charge did not dispute the deaths themselves, as they had in the al-Dura case, but focused on exonerating the IDF through a re-reading of the footage, arguing that the bullets had come from other sources.

The charge of fraudulence haunted the case as it wound its way through the Israeli legal system. The Bitunya case established the fake news charge as a default Israeli script for responding to video-graphic evidence of state violence against Palestinians.

A few months hence, during another violent Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Netanyahu would famously rehearse a variant of this discourse when he accused people in Gaza of performing their deaths for the media: “They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause.”

The language of “fake news” had moved from the margins of the conspiratorial blogosphere to become the language of state – presaging a dynamic that we would watch unfold in the US in the Trump era, a few years hence.

High Stakes

For Israelis who support the fake news accusation, the stakes are considerable – just as they are in Trump’s America for those who parrot this rhetoric. In the Israeli context, these accusations aim to protect the image of Israel by stripping Palestinian victims and Israeli perpetrators from the videographic scene of the alleged crime – and to do so in a way that removes all traces of repressive Israeli military rule and its histories.

The charges of fraudulence, forgery or Palestinian theatrics are an attempt to correct the record, to right the wrongs done by a libelous Palestinian public that is intent on Israel’s defamation by means of fictive image-making – or so many believe.

In this way, the discourse of fake news is just another tool in the Israeli struggle against the so-called existential threat.

[This article was originally published in Middle East Report (Issue 283).]


[1] Adi Kuntsman and I explore this in more detail here.

[2] For a more detailed discussion of this case, see Stein, “GoPro Occupation: Networked Cameras, Israeli Military Rule, and the Digital Promise,” Current Anthropology 58/S15 (February 2017).

 

Israeli forces fail to probe 83% of settler violence cases.

Mostly right-wing group so far.

Israelis who attack Palestinians and their property in the occupied West Bank are seldom investigated thoroughly or punished, according to a new data sheet published by the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.

activestills1385449216w57de.jpg

Abed Rabo Jedua examines damage to his olive trees in the West Bank village of Tuqu; the trees were attacked by Israeli settlers, accompanied by soldiers. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler / ActiveStills)

Published on 12 November, the data sheet’s shocking statistics are based on 1,045 Israeli police files opened in the West Bank between 2005 and 2014.

Yesh Din’s statistics do not include occupied East Jerusalem despite how the United Nations considers it part of the West Bank.

The report paints a picture of widespread impunity for Israeli settlers suspected of violent crimes and vandalism, as well as a consistent pattern of neglect by the Israeli police authorities assigned to investigate such allegations.

According to the report, nearly half (47.4%) of all investigative files opened in that time “involve complaints by Palestinians of damage to their property,” such as homes, vehicles, crops and olive trees.

Another 34.5% “involve complaints of violence by Israeli civilians against Palestinians in the West Bank.”

And 13.6% are complaints related to theft of Palestinian land.

And 4.5% “include the killing of farm animals, desecration of mosques and cemeteries, discharging of sewage into Palestinian farmland, dumping of waste on land belonging to Palestinians, and other offenses,” the report notes.

Regarding complaints of “harm caused to Palestinians and their property,” the Israeli police issued indictments in a mere 7.4% of 970 cases, and from 2013 until this year, only two files led to indictments. (And what the consequences of these indictments?)

Settler violence

Settler violence is a daily reality for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation across the West Bank. And as Israeli settlements continue to expand, settler violence continues without pause.

Yesh Din’s fact sheet reports, “Violent incidents include instances of shooting, beatings, stone throwing, assault with clubs, knives and rifle butts, running Palestinians over with a vehicle, as well as threats of assault or harm and other offenses.”

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, more than 125 Jewish-only settlements provide residence to more than 325,000 Israelis in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem).

There are also more than one hundred “outpost” colonies, which, despite being considered illegal even by Israel, are protected by the Israeli military and receive government funding.

On 19 October, 5-year-old Inas Khalil was killed when an Israeli settler used a vehicle to run her over while walking home from school near her hometown of Sinjil village near Ramallah.

In Kisan village, near Bethlehem, armed settlers chased a group of Palestinian schoolgirls, the International Business Times reported last week.

Far from being exempt from violence by Israeli settlers, children are often the deliberate targets.

A March 2014 report by Defense for Children International – Palestine Section (written by this author) examines the widespread and systematic settler violence that often fatally targets Palestinian children.

“In offenses involving violence, 83.3% of the files in which the investigation was completed and the outcome is known to Yesh Din were closed in circumstances suggesting investigative failure,” the Yesh Din fact sheet notes.

The group adds that most investigative files were closed “on the grounds of ‘offender unknown’ or ‘insufficient information.’”

“Price tag” attacks

Attacks on Palestinian property and holy places are often referred to as “price tag” attacks, which occur on both sides of the so-called Green Line dividing the West Bank from present-day Israel.

On 12 November, Israeli settlers torched a mosque in the Ramallah area village of al-Mughayir. The attackers are believed to have come from the nearby settlement of Shilo, according to an Al Jazeera English report published the same day.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the arson attack in al-Mughayir “brings to ten the number of Muslim houses of worship in Israel and the [occupied] territories that have been targeted in arson attacks in less than three and a half years. No one has been charged in any of these incidents.”

In October 2013, Israeli settlers set ablaze a mosque in the West Bank village of Burqa, also near Ramallah, and vandalized three cars belonging to local Palestinians, as The Electronic Intifada reported at the time.

More common, however, are Israeli attacks on Palestinian olive trees, a staple of livelihood in the West Bank and elsewhere.

According to Yesh Din, “vandalism of olive trees and other fruit trees severely damages property owned by Palestinians and directly harms their welfare, as most of the Palestinian population of the West Bank relies on farming as a significant source of income, predominantly olives which supply income and jobs for roughly 100,000 households.”

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has also reported that “around 10,700 Palestinian-owned trees, including saplings, were cut down or otherwise damaged by Israeli settlers across the West Bank” in 2013.

Jerusalem left out

Yet by leaving out East Jerusalem, the Yesh Din fact sheet only provides a partial picture of the widespread lack of accountability for Israelis who attack Palestinians.

Like elsewhere, settler violence, police harassment and systematic neglect is part and parcel to Palestinian life under Israeli occupation in Jerusalem.

The Israeli authorities and settlers have recently escalated an already suffocating atmosphere of siege imposed on Palestinians in Jerusalem.

On 16 November, a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged from a steel bar inside his bus in Jerusalem. Though Israeli occupation authorities claim it was a suicide and that an investigation is on-going, 32-year-old Yusef al-Ramouni’s family suspect settlers are behind his death. (Hanged by Jewish passengers in the bus)

“We reject the suicide theory. We all know it was settlers who killed him,” Osama al-Ramouni, the victim’s brother, told AFP. “He had no problems that would make him [commit suicide].”

Back in July, a group of Israeli settlers kidnapped, tortured and murdered 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair in Jerusalem. The subsequent autopsy suggested that the child had been forced to drink gasoline before being burned alive.

Though six Israelis were arrested as suspects, The Electronic Intifada reported at the time that three were subsequently released. Given Israel’s long track record of impunity for settler violence, few have faith in a just investigation.

Aminah Abdulhaq, lawyer and advocacy officer for the Jerusalemites Campaign, a group that campaigns for Palestinian rights in that city, said that Palestinians in Jerusalem “are at a particular disadvantage.”

“The police force that is meant to handle legal disputes and crimes are part of the very entity that is occupying their land,” she told The Electronic Intifada by email.

“Because of this, few Jerusalemites have any trust in the police,” Abdulhaq explained. “Most go out of their way to avoid interacting with them, and those that are compelled to report harassment or attacks from Israelis rarely see their assailants charged.”

 

 Flechette shells? Modern antiquity tortures weapons targeting children and used by Israel on Gaza people

Israel using flechette shells in Gaza

The Israeli military is using flechette shells, which spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal metal darts, in its military operation in Gaza.

Six flechette shells were fired towards the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, on 17 July, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Nahla Khalil Najjar, 37, suffered injuries to her chest, it said. PCHR provided a picture of flechettes taken by a fieldworker last week.

Palestinian human rights group accuses Israel military of using shells that spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal dart
Flechette shell darts

An image provided by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights of darts from a flechette shell it says the Israeli military fired in Gaza last week.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) did not deny using the shells in the conflict.

As a rule, the IDF only employs weapons that have been determined lawful under international law, and in a manner which fully conforms with the laws of armed conflict,” a spokesperson said in response to a request for specific comment on the deployment of flechettes.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, describes a flechette shell as “an anti-personnel weapon that is generally fired from a tank. The shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of metal darts 37.5mm in length, which disperse in a conical arch 300 metres long and about 90 metres wide”.

The munitions are not prohibited under international humanitarian law, but according to B’Tselem, “other rules of humanitarian law render their use in the Gaza Strip illegal. One of the most fundamental principles is the obligation to distinguish between those who are involved and those who are not involved in the fighting, and to avoid to the extent possible injury to those who are not involved. Deriving from this principle is the prohibition of the use of an imprecise weapon which is likely to result in civilian injuries.”

Flechette shell darts embedded in a wall in Gaza 

A image taken in 2009 of darts from a flechette shell embedded in a wall in Gaza. Photograph: Ben Curtis/APThe legality of flechette munitions was upheld by the Israeli supreme court in 2002, and according to an Israeli military source, they are particularly effective against enemy fighters operating in areas covered by vegetation. (What kinds of vegetation can you find in Gaza? Meant to be used in Vietnam?)

The source said a number of armies around the world deploy flechette shells, and that they were intended solely for use against legitimate military targets in accordance with international law.

The IDF has deployed flechette shells in Gaza and Lebanon before.

B’Tselem has documented the deaths of nine Palestinians in Gaza from flechettes in 2001 and 2002. Flechettes have also killed and wounded dozens of civilians, including women and children, in conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Israeli military deployed artillery shells containing white phosphorous in densely populated areas of Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009, causing scores of deaths and extensive burns.

It initially issued a categorical denial of reports of the use of white phosphorous, but later admitted it, saying the weapon was only used to create smokescreens.

Human Rights Watch said its use of the munitions in Operation Cast Lead was indiscriminate and evidence of war crimes.

In response to a legal challenge, the IDF said last year it would “avoid the use in built-up areas of artillery shells containing white phosphorus, with two narrow exceptions.”

The exceptions were not disclosed.

Status of Gaza and the expelled Palestinians living in Gaza

GAZA RESTRICTIONS ON MOVEMENT (Click here for December 2011 Gaza access and closure map) –

SIEGE and BLOCKADE

‘The prolonged blockade of Gaza, which had already been in place for some 18 months (report published in 2012 by IMU) before the current fighting began, amounts to collective punishment of its entire population.‘

The Fourth Geneva Convention specifically prohibits collective punishment. Its Article 33 provides: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”’

‘Israel’s punitive closure of the Gaza Strip, tightened after Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in June 2007, continued to have severe humanitarian and economic consequences for the civilian population.‘Gaza’s economy grew rapidly, but the World Bank said the growth depended on international assistance.

The economy had not returned to pre-closure levels; daily wages, for instance, had declined 23% since 2007. Israel’s near-total restrictions on exports from Gaza hindered economic recovery.

Due to low per capita income, 51% of the population was unable to buy sufficient food, according to UN aid agencies. ‘Israel allowed imports to Gaza that amounted to around 40 percent of pre-closure levels, the UN reported.

Israel continued to bar construction materials, like cement, which it said had “dual use” civilian and military applications. Israel allowed shipments of construction materials for projects operated by international organizations, but as of September Gaza still had an estimated shortage of some 250 schools and 100,000 homes.’

  • Since the early 1990s, Israel has restricted passage to and from Gaza, but in 2006, following Hamas’ victory in Palestinian elections, Israel tightened its restrictions severely and imposed a total naval blockade on the tiny coastal enclave.
  • Israel’s siege and naval blockade of Gaza are acts of collective punishment, which is illegal under international law, and is considered as such by the United Nations and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.
  • A 2009 Amnesty International report following Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s devastating military assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, stated:
  • In 2011, the UN released the so-called Palmer Report on Israel’s attack against the Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 that killed nine Turkish activists (one of them a US citizen).
  • The report deemed Israel’s blockade legal, however it was widely considered a politicized whitewash, containing the important caveat that “its conclusions can not be considered definitive in either fact or law.”
  • Shortly after the Palmer Report was released, an independent UN panel of experts released a report concluding that Israel’s blockade of Gaza does violate international law, stating that it amounts to collective punishment in “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.” The International Committee of the Red Cross and a UN fact-finding mission into Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla reached the same conclusion in 2010.
  • Israeli officials have admitted that the siege is not motivated primarily by security concerns, but is part of a strategy of “economic warfare” against the people of Gaza. In 2006, senior advisor to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Dov Weisglass, said the goal of the Gaza siege was to put the 1.6 million people of Gaza “on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
  • Despite the fact that Israel loosened restrictions under international pressure following the assault on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010, the siege and blockade continue to strangle Gaza economically.
Palestinian children in Gaza dying under the bombs
  • According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report:

– ‘NO-GO’ ZONES – (Click here for UN map showing no-go zones)

  • In May 2010, Israel declared “no-go” zones within 300 meters (328 yards) from the wall that surrounds Gaza. In practice, however, the UN has concluded that the no-go zone is actually 500 meters (546 yards). Palestinians who venture into this area risk being shot by Israeli soldiers without warning. Numerous Palestinian civilians, including children and the elderly, have been wounded and killed in these areas.
  • Human rights organizations such as B’Tselem have documented dozens of cases of cases in which Israeli soldiers opened fire at people who posed no threat and were much farther than 300 meters (328 yards) from the wall – up to 1,500 meters (1640 yards) away.
  • According to UN statistics, the area of the official no-go zones, together with the area in which entry is effectively restricted due to a real risk of gunfire, covers about 39 square miles, or 17% of the total area of Gaza.
  • The no-go zones affect some 113,000 Palestinians (7.5% of Gaza’s population), causing harm to their homes, land, workplaces, and schools. Seven schools are located in these areas.

– RESTRICTIONS ON FISHING – (Click here for UN map showing nautical fishing limit)

‘In addition to the harsh restrictions on fishing, B’Tselem has documented cases in which naval forces have attacked and harassed fishermen. The documented cases include, for example, gunfire, detention, delay, and confiscation of boats and fishing equipment.

The prohibition on entering deep waters and the danger now inherent to every excursion to sea deny fishermen access to areas abundant with fish, limiting their catches [to] small fish of poor quality. As a result, it is extremely hard to earn a living from fishing, or even cover fishing expenses.

Given the lack of other sources of income in the Gaza Strip, some fishermen are left no option but to violate the prohibition and endanger their lives. ‘The fishing sector in Gaza has suffered a sharp blow. According to various estimates, the livelihood of some 3,000 families in Gaza, comprising some 19,500 people, depends directly on the fishing industry, and another 2,000 families make a living from affiliated industries, such as building and maintenance of boats and sale and maintenance of equipment. The imports also raise the cost of fish, preventing many families from obtaining an important source of protein. Because of the short supply, the price of fish has risen.’

  • In the Interim Agreement signed by Israel and the PLO as part of the Oslo Accords during the 1990s, Israel agreed to allow fishing boats from Gaza to travel some 20 nautical miles from shore, except for several buffer zones near the borders with Israel and Egypt to which they were denied entry altogether.
  • But according to a 2011 report from B’Tselem: “In practice, however, Israel did not issue permits to all the fishermen who requested them, and allowed fishing up to a distance of 12 nautical miles.”
  • Since Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s devastating military assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9, the Israeli navy has reduced that limit to three nautical miles.

Israel: Identity Crisis

Sources
Population estimates for 2011 collated from Israeli CBS, Palestinian CBS, OCHA and Badil.

Maps are illustrative, based on data collated from Israel CBS and OCHA.
ID matrix adapted from Helga Tawil-Souri. Additional facts from B’Tselem and Adalah.

Israel is a War Criminal's photo.

Population Data.
Central Bureau of Statistics, 2012. Statistical Abstract of Israel (accessed on 15 May 2014)
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Estimated Population in the Palestinian Territory Mid-Year by Governorate,1997-2016 (accessed on 15 May 2014)
Badil, 2012. Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2010 – 2012 (PDF)

Map data.
Central Bureau of Statistics, 2012. Statistical Abstract of Israel. (accessed on 15 May 2014)
OCHA, 2012. Humanitarian Atlas, December 2012 (accessed on 15 May 2014)

Matrix.
Helga Tawil-Souri, Social Text, vol.29 (2), 2011. “Colored Identity: The Politics and Materiality of ID Cards in Palestine/Israel” (PDF)

WB areas.
B’Tselem, 2013. What is Area C? (accessed on 15 May 2014)

Israel admissions.
Adalah, 2011. Adalah NGO Report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Arab Palestinian Citizens of Israel (PDF)


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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