Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Fallout from Gaza Op: B'Tselem Reports Sharp Rise in Israeli Security Forces' Violence against Palestinians in the West Bank

B'Tselem-Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, March 24, 2009 - Since the beginning of Operation “Cast Lead” at the end of 2008, there has been a sharp rise in reports of violence perpetrated by security forces against Palestinians in the West Bank. During this nearly three-month period, B'Tselem documented 24 cases in which police officers and soldiers beat Palestinians, using rifle butts, clubs and other means of injury. 16 of the cases were especially serious and their victims suffered heavier injuries.

As it is impossible for B'Tselem to document each and every case of violence by security forces in the West Bank, the above figures necessarily reflect only a portion of the violent incidents that actually occurred, and it is likely that other attacks went unreported.

The documented cases took place throughout the West Bank – some at checkpoints, others in Palestinian homes, and some on roadways. In one case, testimonies given to B'Tselem indicate that soldiers stopped Na’im ‘Awad at the Huwara checkpoint and beat him. His brother, Muhammad, arrived at the checkpoint by chance and asked the soldiers why they were beating his brother. An argument ensued between him and one of the soldiers, who then slammed him hard in the head with his rifle butt, causing him irreparable speech damage and weakness on the right side of his body.

In another case, soldiers encountered a Palestinian by the side of the road next to Tuqu’ and beat him for several minutes. The victim, Majed Hajahjeh, related in his testimony:

They beat me all over my body, especially my head. I covered my head with my hands to protect myself. My hands were bloody from the blood from my head. I went down onto my knees and cried out in pain. The soldiers continued to beat me with clubs and to kick me in the neck, back, and hands. My right hand hurt in particular. It hurt so much, I thought I was going to die. (to read the full testimony click here)

Later in his testimony, Hajahjeh stated that the soldiers had left him lying by the road, bleeding, his arm broken.

B'Tselem referred all the documented cases to the law-enforcement authorities – the Judge Advocate General’s Office and the Department for the Investigation of Police, in the Ministry of Justice. Although some of the cases occurred more than two months ago, the authorities have yet to complete the investigation in even one case....

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