Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2011

  • Two Palestinian teenagers died after Israeli security forces shot them with live ammunition following a demonstration on 20 March in the West Bank village of Iraq Burin. Muhammed Qadus was shot in the chest; Usaid Qadus was shot in the head. In April, following an Israeli military police investigation, two senior Israeli officers were reprimanded over the killings.
  • In September, three Palestinian shepherds - Ibrahim Abu Said, aged 91, his 16-year-old grandson Hosam Abu Sa'id, and 17-year-old Isma'il Abu 'Oda - were killed by Israeli tank shells while grazing their sheep inside the Gaza "exclusion zone" near Beit Hanoun. The authorities later admitted that the three victims were civilians, not "terrorists" as they had initially stated, and announced an investigation into the incident. Its outcome was not known by the end of 2010.

Impunity

Israeli soldiers, members of the security forces and settlers continued to enjoy impunity for human rights abuses committed against Palestinians, including unlawful killings. Settler violence included shooting at Palestinians and destruction of Palestinian property. In only extremely rare cases were the perpetrators held to account for their actions.

According to a detailed report on impunity published by the |sraeli human rights organization B'Tselem in October, the Israeli military killed 1,510 Palestinians in 2006-09, excluding those killed during Operation "Cast Lead". Of these, 617, including 104 children aged under 18, were not taking part in any hostilities when they were killed. B'Tselem called for an investigation into 288 of the killings committed in 148 incidents, most in the Gaza Strip; investigations were opened in only 22 incidents, most in the West Bank. B'Tselem reported that only four investigations were opened within a month of the incident. In two investigations, the case was closed without any prosecution of the soldiers involved.

Operation 'Cast Lead'

Although some Israeli military investigations into specific incidents were ongoing, the Israeli authorities still failed to conduct independent investigations into alleged war crimes and other serious violations of international law by Israeli forces during Operation "Cast Lead" that conform with international standards. The UN-mandated Fact-Finding Mission on the conflict (the Goldstone report) found in 2009 that Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups had both committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

By the end of 2010, only three Israeli soldiers had been convicted in connection with Operation "Cast Lead". Two of them were found guilty of "unauthorized conduct" for ordering a nine-year-old Palestinian boy, Majed R., to act as a "human shield" by opening bags they believed were booby-trapped. In November, they were demoted and given suspended three-month prison sentences.

Due to the failure of both sides to conduct adequate investigations, Amnesty International urged that the matter be addressed through international justice mechanisms.

Israel paid US$10.5 million compensation to the UN in January for UN buildings damaged during Operation "Cast Lead". However, no compensation was paid to or on behalf of any of the victims of the attacks. The UN said the payment concluded the financial issues relating to the Operation, even though the Goldstone report had specifically recommended that the UN seek compensation not only for UN personnel and civilians killed or injured in attacks on UN premises, but also for civilian victims of other attacks during the Operation.

Justice system

Detention without trial

Israel continued to impose a system of administrative detention whereby Palestinians are held for prolonged periods without charge or trial. At least 264 Palestinians were subject to administrative detention orders in 2010. Some had been held for more than two years.

  • Moatasem Nazzal, a 16-year-old student from Qalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah, was arrested without explanation at his home on 20 March. He was interrogated while shackled. He was given three successive administrative detention orders, keeping him in prison until 26 December 2010.

Prison conditions - denial of family visits