13 October 2009
During the last week, the Israeli army patrolling the area close to the Green Line in the South Hebron Hills, started to destroy and burn cars they suspected belonged to Palestinians trying to travel inside Israel for work without permit. On the 12 and 13 October, activists from different groups documented seven destroyed cars in the area.
When the Israeli soldiers approach a car they want to target, they make the driver and other passengers abandon it and then proceed to destroying the car. They use a combination of various methods from smashing the windows, puncturing the tires, cutting wires, steeling the battery to setting the whole car on fire. One of the cars that were destroyed on the 13 October belonged to a Palestinian family that was on their way to visit another family living in the area, with no intention to try to cross the border. The family abandoned the car before the army arrived, too afraid to take the risk of being approached and harassed by the soldiers.
A local resident, employed by B’Tselem, that was documenting similar incidents on the 12 October was arrested for two hours and had pictures from his phone deleted by the army.
To destroy property like this is not authorized by the Israeli army. In the evening of the 13 October, as a result of Israeli media attention, the army announced that two captains connected to these incidents would be cut off from their duties the coming week and possibly also face a trial.
Few Palestinians are given permits to work inside Israel and are thus forced to seek jobs illegally due to the pressured economy and high unemployment in the Palestinian Territories, a result of the Israeli occupation. The B’Tselem report Crossing the Line: Violation of the Rights of Palestinians in Israel without a Permit describes the economic situation and gives testimonies about how the Israeli police and army systematically use unauthorized methods for punishing both Palestinians working in Israel and those who try to get in without permission.