No 759 Posted by fw, May 30, 2013
B’Tselem — the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories — was established in February 1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members. It endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel.
B’Tselem in Hebrew literally means “in the image of,” and is also used as a synonym for human dignity. The word is taken from Genesis 1:27 “And God created humans in his image. In the image of God did He create him.” It is in this spirit that the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights.”
The objective excellence of B’Tselem’s reporting is reflected in the lead-in to five print and video stories from the following reprint of their May 30, 2013 Newsletter. Click on the linked titles or READ MORE links for the full story.
B’Tselem’s Operation Pillar of Defense report challenges claim it was a “surgical” operation
This month, we published our conclusions on harm caused to civilians in Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip (14-21 November 2012). For the past months, B’Tselem’s staff worked intensively to gather information on all the cases in which Palestinians and Israelis were killed in the operation, to meticulously corroborate the details with all available sources, and to analyse the data.
Our report presents the comprehensive figures of Palestinians and Israelis killed in the operation, and challenges the notion prevalent within the Israeli public that this was a “surgical” operation with practically no fatalities among uninvolved Palestinian civilians. Our research revealed that at least 87 Palestinian civilians who took no part in the hostilities were killed. This is merely a minimum figure: As international law sets a high standard of proof for determining that a person was not taking part in hostilities, in cases in which our data was inconclusive, we chose to refrain from making a classification. Therefore, regarding 11 of the Palestinians killed in the operation, we have classified them as “unknown” as to whether they were participating in the hostilities.
Analysis of the fatalities revealed a significant difference between the beginning and the end of the operation: Of the uninvolved Palestinians killed, 80% were killed in the last four days of the operation. B’Tselem has been unable to obtain any substantive explanation from the military for the marked and very worrisome rise in civilian casualties toward the end of the operation.
Given the harsh results of the operation and the many questions that remain unanswered, we call on the military to make its investigative process transparent, to provide the rationale for each decision made to close an investigation into the killing of an uninvolved civilian, and to enable external review of these decisions.
Adv. Yael Stein, Research Director
B’Tselem’s report raises suspicions that the military violated International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Breaches of two major aspects of IHL are of greatest concern: lack of effective advance notice of an impending attack and an unacceptably broad definition of what constitutes a “legitimate target”. The report analyzes nine cases in which Palestinian civilians were killed or injured by the military and which raise suspicions of IHL violations. READ MORE >>
In recent months, B’Tselem staff and volunteers have captured on video several incidents in which settlers attacked Palestinians or damaged their property in the presence of security forces. Most of the incidents described here occurred following the stabbing to death of Yitzhar resident Evyatar Borovsky on 30 April 2013. The other two incidents occurred at other times and in different areas in the West Bank. B’Tselem wrote to the law enforcement authorities demanding investigations of the settlers’ violence and the security forces’ conduct in these incidents. In addition, B’Tselem wrote to OC Central Command demanding that he ensure adequate preparation of the forces for future incidents of settler violence. READ MORE >>
The Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) will investigate a serious incident in which soldiers and Border Policemen beat a Palestinian youth while arresting him. The incident was captured by a security camera of the Ofra settlement, but the camera operators diverted the camera from the violent scene, apparently so as to avoid documenting it, and the video footage of the arrest was not transferred to the detainee’s defense attorney for nearly a month, during which time the youngster was held in detention. The MPIU only notified B’Tselem on May 28 that an investigation is to be opened, after the organization wrote urgently to demand investigation into the violent arrest and into suspicions of disruption of proceedings and failure to report a crime by the persons involved in the filming or persons who knew of it. READ MORE >>
Some 511 Gazan men, including 14 minors, are currently being held as prisoners and detainees in Israel. In July 2012, after a five-year hiatus, family visits to Gazan inmates in Israel were resumed. From that time until 22 April 2013, most of the inmates have received visits. Israel permits inmates to be visited by their parents, wives and children under eight years old; children over eight, siblings and grandparents are not allowed to visit. Permission for children under the age of eight to visit their imprisoned fathers was granted only in May 2013. B’Tselem calls upon the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to allow all first-degree relatives, including children of all ages, to visit Gazans being held in Israel. READ MORE >>
International Workers’ Day commemorates the historic struggle for the eight-hour workday. Over a century after that goal was achieved, Palestinian workers are still fighting for basic labor rights, primarily their right to work without risking their lives. Israel, whose military rule of the West Bank began nearly 46 years ago, does not promote economic development there and strictly limits the number of Palestinians given permits to work in Israel. This policy primarily harms Palestinians who have no choice but to enter Israel illegally, and are thereby exposed to exploitation and their rights abused. As long as Israel prevents Palestinian economic development, it must grant work permits to Palestinians and ensure their social rights.