Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories continued during the reporting period (14 – 20 July 2016).
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. During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians, including a child. Moreover, Israeli forces wounded 17 other civilians, including 4 children. Fifteen of them were wounded in the West Bank and the 2 others were wounded in the Gaza Strip. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continue to target Palestinian fishermen and chase them in the Sea.
In the West Bank, at approximately 16:50 on Tuesday, 19 July 2016, Israeli soldiers who guard the annexation wall near Nazlet al-Kasarat area in al-Ram village, north of East occupied Jeruslaem, fired rubber-coated metal bullets at Muhie al-Deen Mohammed Sedqi Mohammed Tabakhi (11) when he was along with other children near a hill overlooking the wall. Tabakhi was wounded and then taken to al-Ram Medical Centre. He was then transferred to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where he succumbed to his wounds.
On 19 July 2016, the Palestinian Ministry of Health declared the death of Mustafa Barad’iyeh (52) from Beit Fajjr village, south of Bethlehem. The aforementioned was wounded at the entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron on 18 July 2016 after stabbing two Israeli soldiers. He was taken by an Israeli military ambulance to an unknown destination.
On 14 July 2016, 10 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded when a group of undercover units of Israeli forces sneaked into al-Mazra’ah al-Qabaliyah village, northwest of Ramallah. The units raided and searched a house belonging to Tariq ‘Aqel Abu Rabi’a and arrested him. Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian children and youngsters gathered to throw stones at the units, who in response opened fire at them. Fifteen minutes later, 3 Israeli military vehicles moved into the village to back up the undercover units and secure their withdrawal. The Israeli soldiers opened fire at the demonstrators, resulting in the injury of ten civilians; one of whom sustained serious wounds.
On the same day, Israeli forces stationed at Sho’afat checkpoint, north of occupied East Jerusalem, opened fire at Yehia Hashem Hejazi (24) while crossing the checkpoint. As a a result, he was hit with 9 bullets to the right foot and then taken to “Shaare Zedek” Medical Centre for medical treatment. He is so far under arrest. Israeli forces claimed that he attempted to carry out a stab attack against Israeli soldiers, who in response opened fire at him. Israeli forces later backed away from their claim and stated the shooting was by mistake.
On 18 July 2016, 4 civilians, including 2 children, sustained bullet wounds when Israeli forces moved into Qabatia, southeast of Jenin, to level a house belonging to prisoner Belal Ahmed Adib Abu Zaid (20). The wounded persons were taken to Dr. Khalil Soliman Governmental Hospital in Jenin for medical treatment. One of the wounded persons sustained serious wounds. (See: Collective Punishment Policy Measures)
In the Gaza Strip, on 15 July 2016, a Palestinian civilian was hit with a bullet to the right hand when Israeli forces opened dozens of Palestinian children and youngsters who headed to the border fence between Israeli and the Gaza Strip, east of al-Bureij in the central Gaza Strip, in order to throw stones at the Israeli soldiers.
In the context of opening fire at the border areas, on 20 July 2016, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of al-Salqa Valley, east of Deir al-Balah, opened fire at farmers in the area. As a result, one of the farmers was hit with a bullet to the left thigh.
In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the Sea, on 17 July 2016, Israeli hunboats stationed off al-Soudaniya shore, west of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats and chased them. The boats were sailing within 3 nautical miles, and no casualties were reported.
On 20 July 2016, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Shati shore, northwest of Gaza City, heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles. Two Israeli gunboats surrounded a fishing boat manned by 5 civilians from al-Shati camp, west of Gaza City. Israeli forces arrested all of them and confiscated the fishing boat.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 78 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 5 ones in occupied East Jerusalem and its suburbs. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 59 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children and 2 women. Sixteen of them, including 3 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.
In the Gaza Strip, on 20 July 2016, Israeli forces moved 50 meters into the eastern side of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. Amidst Israeli sporadic shooting, Israeli bulldozer sdug and levelled vacant lands along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Neither casualties nor damages were reported.
Collective Punishment Measures against Palestinian civilians
- On 14 July 2016, Israeli forces stationed at the checkpoint of Shu’fat refugee camp, north of East Jerusalem, opened fire at Yahya Hashem Hijazi (24) when he was crossing the checkpoint. As a result, Yahya was wounded with nine live bullets to his right foot and taken to “Shaare Zedek” Medical Centre for medical treatment. He is so far under arrest. Israeli forces claimed that he attempted to carry out a stab attack against Israeli soldiers, who in response opened fire at him. Israeli forces later backed away from their claim and stated the shooting was by mistake.
- On 19 July 2016, Israeli forces, who guard the annexation wall near Nazalet al-Kassarat area in al-Ram village north of East Jerusalem, fired ruber-coated metal bullets at Mohyidin Mohammed Sadqi Mohammed Tabakhi (11) when he along with his friends were near a hill overlooking the abovementioned wall. At the meanwhile, there were clashes between the Israeli forces and dozens of Palestinian young men. As a result, Mohyidin was hit with a metal bullet to the left side of his chest. Mohyidin was taken to al-Ram Medical Centre from which he was transported to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. After that, doctors announced his death.
- On 14 July 2016, Israeli forces moved into Dura village, southwest of Hebron and stationed in Wad Sud neighbourhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to the family of Prisoner Mohammed Abdul Majeed Mohammed Amayrah (38). Moreover, an engineering unit took measurements of the 1-storey house built on an area of 180-square-meter. The Israeli soldiers then threatened Mohammed’s wife to demolish the house as the Israeli authorities accused Mohammed of killing an Israeli settler after shooting him near Deir Razseh village, south of Dura. ‘Amayrah’s partner in the attack was Mohammed Jabarah al-Faqih whose house was raided as well by the Israeli forces in Dura at the same time.
- On 18 July 2016, Israeli forces accompanied with military jeeps, several bulldozers and a digger moved into Qabatiyah village, southeast of Jenin. They stationed opposite to a 2-storey house belonging to the family of prisoner Bilal Ahmed Adeeb Abu Zaid (20) and demolished the two-story house. At the meanwhile, dozens of youngsters gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli forces that immediately fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them in response. As a result, 4 civilians, including two children, were wounded with live bullets and they were taken to Martyr Dr. Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin to receive medical treatment where medical sources classified one of the civilians’ injuries as dangerous. It should be mentioned that the Israeli forces accused Bilal of helping 3 young men from Qabatiyah village in carrying out an attack in Ras al-Amoud area in Jerusalem at the beginning of last February.
House demolitions and demolition notices:
- On 19 July 2016, Israeli forces demolished a room, stores and a commercial facility in Hush Abu Tahyeh in Ein al-Lawzah neighbourhood in Silwan, south of East Jerusalem. These facilities belong to Abu al-Hamam and Abu Tayeh families and were demolished under the pretext of building without a permit.
- On the same Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished foundations of an under-construction house in Tal al-Foul area in Beit Haninah neighbourhood, north of Jerusalem belonging to Sharhabil ‘Alqam under the pretext of building without a licence. Sharhabil said to a PCHR’s fieldworker that he started building the house two months ago to live in the house with his family comprised of 9 members. He added that the municipality bulldozers demolished the foundations without a prior warning after imposing a complete cordon on the area and prevented Sharhabil from reaching the house.
- At approximately 13:30 on the same Thursday, Israel Antiquities Authority demolished 4 Islamic graves in Bab al-Rahmah Gate Cemetery close to al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of East Jerusalem. This action is part of the Jewish plan to transform part of the abovementioned cemetery to a Biblical Garden and establish foundations for the Chairlifts between al-Zaytoun Mount and Bab al-Rahmah Gate Cemetery.
- On 20 July 2016, Israeli municipality machines demolished a commercial facility in the industrial area of Qalandiyah “Atrout”, north of East Jerusalem belonging to Kamal Abu Sunainah claiming that the land belongs to the municipality. Abu Sunainah added that 4 containers, 2 tin-roofed rooms used offices and stores for medical equipment, 2 trucks, a private vehicle and a diesel tank. They also levelled 2 dumums of land. He added that the facility was established 10 years ago and that the municipality crews raided it several times claiming that the work is illegal.
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 (KeremShaloum) 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.
- Use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations protesting settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall
- Following the Friday prayer, on 15 July 2016, dozens of Palestinians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organised protests against the annexation wall and settlement activities in Bil’in and Nil’in villages, west of Ramallah, and al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of city. Israeli forces used force to disperse the protesters by firing live bullets, metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs and chased the protesters into the olive fields and between houses. As a result, many civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises as Israeli soldiers beat them up.
- At approximately 15:00, on 15 July 2016, dozens of Palestinian young men headed to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of al-Bureij refugee camp, in the center of the Gaza Strip. They threw stones at Israeli soldiers stationed behind sand barriers. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and live bullets in response. As a result, Sadam Ibrahim Hussain al-Mabhouh (25) was hit with a live bullet to the right arm, and was then taken to al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, where his wounds were classified as moderate.
Note: PCHR keeps the names of the injured persons in the aforementioned demonstrations.
Rubber-coated metal bullets are lethal if they hit the head of victim from a close range.
Continued closure of the oPt
Israel continued to impose a tight closure on the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces continuously tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip and close all commercial crossings, making the Karm Abu Salem crossing the sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip, although it is not suitable for commercial purposes in terms of its operational capacity and distance from markets.
Israeli forces have continued to apply the policy, which is aimed to tighten the closure on all commercial crossings, by imposing total control over the flow of imports and exports.
Israeli forces have continued to impose a total ban on the delivery of raw materials to the Gaza Strip, except for very limited items and quantities. The limited quantities of raw materials allowed into Gaza do not meet the minimal needs of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces also continued to impose an almost total ban on the Gaza Strip exports, including agricultural and industrial products, except for light-weighted products such as flowers, strawberries, and spices. However, they lately allowed the exportation of some vegetables such as cucumber and tomatoes, furniture and fish.
Israel has continued to close the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing for the majority of Palestinian citizens from the Gaza Strip. Israel only allows the movement of a limited number of groups, with many hours of waiting in the majority of cases. Israel has continued to adopt a policy aimed at reducing the number of Palestinian patients allowed to move via the Beit Hanoun crossing to receive medical treatment in hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel also continued applying the policy of making certain civilian traveling via the crossing interviewed by the Israeli intelligence service to be questioned, blackmailed or arrested.
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:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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 PCHR official.