August 11, 2006
Public attention has been drawn in recent weeks away from the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip. Now all eyes are on Lebanon and northern Israel, on
the military confrontation taking a heavy toll on the residents of the
Many have become refugees. Some residents have no home to return to.
Many hundreds have lost their lives. Particularly worrisome is the high
number of dead men, women, and children who were not taking part in the
Human rights violations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue,
and there is reason for concern. More than one hundred persons have been
killed in the Occupied Territories since the beginning of the fighting in
Many of the persons killed were not taking part in the hostilities.
The IDF continues to act in the Occupied Territories, making arrests, destroying structures, and bombing
residential neighborhoods from the air. The separation barrier continues to be
built, and living conditions in the areas under occupation continue to be
intolerable. It is precisely at such times that careful monitoring of
Israel’s acts in the Occupied Territories is needed. This edition
highlights illustrative cases of the current reality in these areas.
48% of Gaza fatalities – civilians not taking part in the hostilities
08.03.2006 | B’Tselem
In July, the Israeli military killed 163 Palestinians in the Gaza
Strip, 78 of whom (48 percent) were not taking part in the hostilities when they
were killed. Thirty-six of the fatalities were minors. In the West Bank, 15
Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. The number of Palestinian
fatalities in July was the highest in any month since April 2002.
Of the incidents B’Tselem investigated in Gaza over the past month,
the organization has identified three cases in which Israel may have
committed grave breaches of international humanitarian law. B’Tselem wrote to
the Judge Advocate General, demanding that he order a Military Police
investigation into the incidents, and to prosecute those responsible
if the suspicions are verified.
Killing of 9 members of the Abu Selmiyeh family in Gaza bombing: Grave suspicion of a war crime
07.12.2006 | btselem.org
On 12 July, around four o’clock in the morning, an Air Force plane
bombed a three-story building in Gaza City, causing it to collapse. Nabil and
Salwah Abu Salamiya and their seven children, who lived in the building, were
killed in the attack. Four other civilians were injured. According to
the IDF, the bombed building “served as a hiding place for senior
activists in the military wing of Hamas.” As in similar cases, the army did not
provide evidence that would explain the killing of the civilians.
The principle of proportionality states that an attack is forbidden if
the side making the attack knows it will cause injury to civilians that
exceed the military advantage anticipated. Breach of this principle is
considered a war crime under international humanitarian law, for which
the persons responsible bear personal criminal liability. B’Tselem
wrote to the Judge Advocate General and demanded that he immediately order a
Military Police investigation of the persons responsible for the
bombing, including the Chief-of-Staff and the Commander of the Air Force.
An attack is forbidden if the side making the attack knows it will
cause injury to civilians that exceed the military advantage anticipated
Israel’s military operation in Gaza: the Humanitarian Perspective
More than one month has passed since the IDF began Operation Summer
The Gaza Strip is sealed closed. The humanitarian situation, which was
dire before the operation began, has grown worse. International aid
organizations are supplying food and water to needy families and
substitute housing to residents who lost their homes or had to flee IDF bombing.
There is a shortage of vital medicines because Karni Crossing is closed and
as a result of the financial crisis of the Palestinian Authority.
The Air Force bombed an electricity relay station. As a result, the
supply of electricity to the residents of the Gaza Strip has been irregular.
The irregularity of electricity supply has caused a breakdown in the water
network, homes and shops have been unable to refrigerate food
products, and twenty-two hospitals have had to rely on generators and
to limit their use to emergency procedures and services.
As long as Israel controls all of the borders surrounding the Gaza
Strip, it is responsible for the orderly supply of all the needs of the
population. Israel’s destruction of civilian targets in Gaza breaches
the principle of distinction between combatants and civilians, is
disproportionate, and is, therefore, illegal.
Israeli soldiers used Palestinian civilians as human shields in Gaza
07.20.2006 | btselem.org
Findings of an investigation by B’Tselem into an IDF operation in Beit
Hanun, in the northern Gaza Strip on 17 July, show that IDF forces
took control of two buildings and used six occupants, among them two
minors, as human shields for about twelve hours. During this time, there were
intense exchanges of gunfire at the location.
During the operation, the soldiers endangered the lives of the
civilians in an attempt to protect themselves from Palestinian gunfire. Among other
things, the soldiers forced a Palestinian occupant to accompany them
in a search of the apartments, handcuffed occupants and held them in the
stairwell, which was exposed to gunfire from the outside. B’Tselem
wrote to the Judge Advocate General, demanding an immediate investigation of
The use of human shields violates both IDF orders and international
High Court accepts state’s contradictory arguments on barrier
07.24.2006 | btselem.org
On 17 July 2006, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition that
Palestinian residents of villages around the Ariel settlement had
filed opposing the section of the separation barrier that surrounds the
settlement. The barrier’s route in that area penetrates deep into the
West Bank and places, in addition to Ariel, fourteen settlements on the
“Israeli” side of the barrier. The barrier in this area will separate
seven villages north of the settlement from the district’s major town,
Salfit, where the residents go for a full range of services.
In its response to the decision, B’Tselem pointed out that the High
Court erred grievously. On the one hand, the High Court accepted the state’s
position that the barrier’s route intended to leave an empty “warning
space” between it and the houses in the settlement. On the other hand, the High Court itself
mentioned that there is a plan to expand the settlement into that very
space. The High Court should have realized that a “warning space” is
incompatible with a built-up area. Clearly, the state’s security
argument was used as a cloak of legality for the political considerations that
lay behind the route chosen for the barrier.