B'Tselem marks 20 yrs of operations

BTselem marks 20 yrs of

B'Tselem, an organization created to change Israeli policy in the territories, marks 20 years of operation on Sunday. To mark the occasion, the group released data it had collected between 1989-2009, recording the deaths of 1,483 Israelis and 7,398 Palestinians. "A 20-year perspective leaves one with a heavy heart, especially due to the ongoing violation of the right to life of Palestinians and Israelis resulting from the conflict," said B'Tselem's executive director, Jessica Montell. "However, we can also note several human rights achievements: for instance, 20 years ago, thousands of Palestinians were systematically and routinely tortured during investigations. Thanks to the efforts of the human rights community, including B'Tselem, this torture has stopped." According to B'Tselem, the year with the highest number of Palestinian casualties was 2009, during which 1,033 people were killed, among them 315 minors. Most of those were killed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. During the past 20 years, Palestinians killed 1,483 Israelis, including 139 minors, according to the report. The report differentiated between civilian casualties (995) and members of security forces (488). The year with the highest number of Israeli casualties was 2002, when 420 people were killed, including 47 minors. The fewest casualties on both sides came in 1999, the year before the second intifada started. Eight Palestinians and four Israelis were killed, according to the report. B'Tselem also reported on the demolition of 4,300 homes in Palestinian areas in the past 20 years, and on the administrative detention of thousands of Palestinians. "In November 1989, 1,794 Palestinians were held by Israel in administrative detention, a detention without trial. Today the number of administrative detainees is 335. The lowest number of administrative detainees, 12, was registered in December 2000. The highest number of those held without trial during the second intifada was 1,007, in January 2003," reads the report. The B'Tselem document also gave figures on the Israel settlements in the West Bank. According to the report, the number of settlers there increased form 69,800 in 1989 to more than 300,000 today. B'Tselem was formed in 1989 by a group of academics, attorneys, journalists and Knesset members to monitor human rights violations and report on them to the Israeli public and policy-makers. B'Tselem regularly provides MKs with information on human rights violations in the West Bank and publishes reports on various issues such as torture, restrictions on movement and violence by settlers. B'Tselem is funded by contributions from foundations in Europe and North America and by private individuals in Israel and abroad. The word b'tselem in Hebrew means "in the image of" and refers to a quote from Genesis 1:27 "And God created man in his image. In the image of God did He create him."