Wednesday, January 2, 2008

B'Tselem reports on Hebron and Denial of Freedom of Movement

B'TSELEM, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories. B'Tselem's English-language web site is an eye-opening resource full of maps and reports:

A new publication from B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel arrived at my home last week: Ghost Town - Israel's Separation Policy and Forced Eviction of Palestinians from the Center of Hebron. Here is the introduction to the summary provided on the B'Tselem web site:

"Over the years, Israel established a number of settlement points in and around the Old City of Hebron, which had traditionally served as the commercial center for the entire southern West Bank . Israeli law-enforcement authorities and security forces have made the entire Palestinian population pay the price for protecting Israeli settlement in the city. To this end, the authorities impose a regime intentionally and openly based on the "separation principle", as a result of which Israel created legal and physical segregation between the Israeli settlers and the Palestinian majority." []

A cd was included too: "Hebron Stories - From Bustling City Center to a Ghost Town." []

Ghost Town was actually released last spring; it took some months to reach me in hard copy. The booklet is available on the web:

The newest resource from B'Tselem is Ground to a Halt: Denial of Palestinians' Freedom of Movement in the West Bank -

Here is a quote from the summary: "Since the beginning of the second intifada, in September 2000, Israel has imposed restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank that are unprecedented in scope and time. As a result, the fundamental right of West Bank Palestinians to freedom of movement, their exercise of which was limited in any event, has become a privilege that Israel extends to them as it deems fit. Indeed, Palestinian travel in the West Bank is now an exception, which must be justified to the Israeli authorities, and almost every trip entails uncertainty, friction with soldiers, much waiting, and often great expense." []

B'Tselem's press releases are informative too.

Wrapping up 2007, B'Tselem resported:

31 Dec. 2007 - 131 Palestinians who did not participate in the hostilities killed by Israel's
security forces in 2007

"B'Tselem today releases its year-end report. According to B'Tselem data, the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in clashes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip dropped. However, there has been deterioration in many other measures of the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories . The primary one is the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which has declined to an all time low, following Israel 's siege on the area." For the entire release go to

16 Dec. 2007: The Israeli army does not do enough to combat abuse of Palestinians

"A survey conducted by the Israeli military and published by leading Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, found that a quarter of soldiers serving at checkpoints in the West Bank perpetrated or witnessed abuse of Palestinians. In response, B'Tselem, said that the numbers are shocking, but not surprising. The organization commends the military for initiating the survey, but states that physical and verbal abuse of Palestinians by soldiers, particularly at checkpoints, has long become routine. In spite of official condemnations, the military does not do enough to ensure accountability and to deter soldiers from engaging in such behavior.

"According to B'Tselem, most soldiers who harm Palestinians are never held accountable. Law enforcement authorities place numerous obstacles on Palestinians who try to complain against security forces personnel and only a small minority of complaints result in charges against those responsible for abuse." For the rest of the story go to

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