Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (17 – 30 December 2015).Israeli attacks in the West Bank & Gaza:
Israeli forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties. They have also continued to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of whom were youngsters. Occupied East Jerusalem witnessed similar attacks. During the reporting period, Israeli forces and police killed 17 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and a woman. 14 of them were killed in the West Bank and the 3 others were killed in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, 106 civilians, including 34 children, were wounded. 59 of them, including 10 children, were wounded in the Gaza Strip while the remaining others were wounded in the West Bank. Concerning the nature of injuries, 85 civilians were hit with live bullets and 21 were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 185 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 8 ones in occupied East Jerusalem. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 130 Palestinian civilians, including 28 children and 4 women. Twenty-six of these civilians, including 13 children and a woman, were arrested in East Jerusalem.
On 29 December 2015, Israeli forces raided al-Ahrar Centre for Prisoner Studies and Human Rights in Nablus. They confiscated the archive, three laptops, a PC, a TV, fax, telephone, a satellite dish and a router. After that, they fixed an order closing the centre. On the same day, Israeli forces raided a Zakat Committee office in Bethlehem after they damaged the doors. They sawed two safes and took all documents in there. It should be noted that the aforementioned committee offers services to 1,200 orphans and hundreds of families.
Efforts to create a Jewish majority
In the context of seizing Palestinian houses in favor of settlement organizations, on 17 December 2015, the Israeli Magistrates Court in occupied Jerusalem handed lawsuit notices over to four families living in area (32) in Aqabet al-Khalidiyah that an Israeli settlement organization had filed lawsuits before the aforementioned court claiming that the houses in that area belong to a Jewish person.
It should be noted that the families had received notices from the Magistrates Court, as 3 settlement organizations had filed cases claiming that those families’ houses belong to the these organizations. This means that judicial measures will be taken at the Israeli courts to vacate the houses in favour of the settlement organizations that claim the houses were a Jewish property in 1948. Moreover, the houses were under the Jewish Custodian of Absentee Property’s control, after which, they were transferred to the control of settlement organizations. As a result, Palestinian families were evacuated from the houses in which they lived for tens of years.
On 22 December 2015, Israeli forces vacated a premises belonging to Hussein al-Qaisi in Aqabet al-Saraya neighbourhood in East Jerusalem’s Old City, claiming that it belongs to settlers. An eyewitness said to PCHR’s fieldworker that Israeli forces raided the premises and took some of its contents outdoors. They then changed the locks and arrested the premises owner. He added that the settlers claimed that it belongs to them since before 1948.
In the context of house demolitions, on Tuesday, 29 December 2015, the Israeli municipality bulldozers demolished an under- construction building in Sour Baher village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. This building belongs to Ra’ed Raja Rabay’ah. Rabay’ah said to PCHR’s fieldworker that Israeli forces demolished the under-construction building without notice. He added that he started building it two months ago. The 2-storey building has cost him NIS 170,000 so far.
As part of house demolitions on grounds of collective punishment, on Tuesday, 29 December 2015, Israeli forces raided a house belonging to the family of Alaa Abu Jamal in al-Mukaber Mountain village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. They handed an order over to his family to vacate the house in 48 hours to be demolished. It should be noted that Alaa Abu Jamal was killed by Israeli forces after he carried out a run-over and stabbing attack that resulted in the killing of an Israeli Rabbi on 13 October 2015.
As part of settler attacks, on Saturday evening, 26 December 2015, a group of settlers attempted to kidnap and kill Enas Syori (23) while she was going back home in occupied Jerusalem. She was coming from Beit Hanina village and going home before she got lost around “Ramot” Street, near Shu’fat village. The aforementioned woman was surprised to see a number of masked settlers attacking her. They smashed her car windows and attempted to strangulate her. They then obliged her to step out of her car. Her husband Samer Syori said that one of the attackers attempted to strangulate Enas, but she could run away after she took off her coat that was held by one of the settlers. In the meantime, the settlers fired a number of bullets at her, but she was not hurt.
Restrictions on movement
Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 1.8 million people. The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy. They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 38.8%, 21.1% of which suffer from extreme poverty. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 44%, which reflects the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.
On 17 December 2015, Israeli forces accompanied by an Israeli Civil Administration vehicle moved into Khellet Ibrahim and Kherbet al-Ras areas, west of Ethna, west of Hebron. The Civil Administration officer distributed notices to halt construction works under the pretext of building without construction license in area (C) according to Oslo Accords.
On 22 December 2015, a group of settlers moved into al-Dhhour area, east of Beitlellow village, northwest of Ramallah, which is close to “Nahal’eil” settlement. They fired two gas canisters into a house belonging to Hussein Abed Hussein al-Najjar (32). The two canisters penetrated the kitchen window. As a result, Hussein’s wife and toddler suffered tear gas inhalation. Before withdrawing, the settler wrote in Hebrew a slogan on the walls of Hussein’s brother house nearby.
Recommendations to the International Community:
PCHR emphasizes the international community’s position that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation, in spite of Israeli military redeployment outside the Gaza Strip in 2005. PCHR further confirms that Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures on the Gaza Strip, which have escalated since the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, in which Hamas won the majority of seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. PCHR stresses that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and the international humanitarian law, especially the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land and the Geneva Conventions. Israel is bound to apply the international human rights law and the law of war sometime reciprocally and other times in parallel in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for victims.
In light of continued arbitrary measures, land confiscation and settlement activities in the West Bank, and the latest 51-day offensive against civilians in the Gaza Strip, PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and the European Union – in the context of their natural obligation to respect and enforce the international law – to cooperate and act according to the following recommendations:
1. PCHR calls upon the international community and the United Nations to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination, through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine;
2. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to provide international protection to Palestinians in the oPt, and to ensure the non-recurrence of aggression against the oPt, especially the Gaza Strip;
3. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to compel Israel, as a High Contracting Party to the Conventions, to apply the Conventions in the oPt;
4. PCHR calls upon the Parties to international human rights instruments, especially the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to pressurize Israel to comply with their provisions in the oPt, and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the concerned committees;
5. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation to ensure the application of the Conventions, including extending the scope of their jurisdiction in order to prosecute suspected war criminals, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the place of a crime, to pave the way for prosecuting suspected Israeli war criminals and end the longstanding impunity they have enjoyed;
6. PCHR calls on States that apply the principle of universal jurisdiction not to surrender to Israeli pressure to limit universal jurisdiction to perpetuate the impunity enjoyed by suspected Israeli war criminals;
7. PCHR calls upon the international community to act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the oPt through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them;
8. PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly to transfer the Goldstone Report to the UN Security Council in order to refer it to the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute;
9. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to confirm that holding war criminals in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a precondition to achieve stability and peace in the regions, and that peace cannot be built on the expense of human rights;
10. PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council to explicitly declare that the Israeli closure policy in Gaza and the annexation wall in the West Bank are illegal, and accordingly refer the two issues to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel to compel it to remove them;
11. PCHR calls upon the international community, in light of its failure to the stop the aggression on the Palestinian people, to at least fulfil its obligation to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after the series of hostilities launched by Israel which directly targeted the civilian infrastructure;
12. PCHR calls upon the United Nations and the European Union to express a clear position towards the annexation wall following the international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, as the annexation wall seizes large parts of the State of Palestine;
13. PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that both sides must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel, and the EU must not ignore Israeli violations and crimes against Palestinian civilians;
Fully detailed document available at the official PCHR website.