Groundbreaking Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was murdered by an Israeli sniper in May. Her killer has yet to be held accountable in any way. (Photo: Al Jazeera Media Network)
Notable events of 2022
More Palestinians were killed by Israelis in the West Bank than any year since 2005.
- Israeli soldiers and settlers killed some 170 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the highest number since 2005. More than half were under the age of 25. Most were killed during invasions of Palestinian communities routinely carried out by Israel’s occupying army. Another 50 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military in occupied Gaza.
Israeli soldiers killed two Americans, a 78-year-old grandfather and a renowned journalist, and no one was seriously punished.
- In January, 78-year-old Palestinian-American Omar Assad died from a heart attack after soldiers pulled him from his car late at night while he was driving in his village. The soldiers handcuffed, blindfolded, and gagged him before leaving him unresponsive in the cold. Following pressure from Assad’s family in the US and criticism from US officials and human rights organizations, one soldier received a reprimand while two others were removed from leadership positions. The battalion the soldiers were from is notorious for its brutality, with members convicted of torturing Palestinians.
- In May, pioneering Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered by an Israeli sniper while she was reporting on the Israeli army’s invasion of the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Even though she was clearly identified as a journalist and was nowhere near any fighting when she was shot in the neck by the sniper, her killer had yet to face any consequences for their actions as of the end of 2022. In November, it was revealed that the FBI had opened an investigation into her killing, which Israel declared it won’t cooperate with.
Israel began forcing Palestinians out of their homes in Masafer Yatta in the largest single expulsion of Palestinians carried out by Israel in decades.
- In May, Israel’s high court ruled the government could proceed with its long-planned expulsion of more than 1,000 Palestinians, including 500 children, from the Masafer Yatta region of the occupied West Bank under the pretext of establishing a military training zone. Shortly afterwards, Israeli soldiers began forcing Palestinians out of their homes and destroying their communities.
- Israel’s forced removal of Palestinians from their homes and land in Masafer Yatta has been condemned by human rights organizations, members of Congress, and the UN. In May, a group of independent UN rights experts warned that Israel’s actions are “in serious breach of international humanitarian and human rights laws.”
More than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza marked 15 years trapped under a suffocating siege and naval blockade imposed by Israel.
- In June 2007, Israel imposed a crippling siege and naval blockade on Palestinians in Gaza, tightening restrictions that it began imposing during the 1990s. The siege and blockade have been condemned by human rights groups and the UN as collective punishment of the entire population and illegal.
- Over the past decade and a half, Israel’s siege and blockade have devastated Gaza’s economy and caused enormous suffering and hardships for Palestinians living there, most of whom are refugees. Israel severely limits the ability of people to travel in and out of the tiny coastal territory, denying people the ability to access life-saving medical treatment, study or do business, and preventing the import and export of a range of basic goods and supplies. According to Amnesty International’s January 2022 report, Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: A Cruel System of Domination and Crimes Against Humanity:
“The blockade and Israel’s repeated military offensives have had a heavy toll on Gaza’s essential infrastructure and further debilitated its health system and economy, leaving the area in a state of perpetual humanitarian crisis. Indeed, Israel’s collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population, the majority of whom are children, has created conditions inimical to human life due to shortages of housing, potable water and electricity, and lack of access to essential medicines and medical care, food, educational equipment and building materials.”
Israel continued to deepend its control over Palestinians living under its 55-year-old military rule in the occupied territories.
- In March, it was revealed that Israeli soldiers manning checkpoints that restrict the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank had been ordered to add the photos and personal information of at least 50 Palestinians into the army’s controversial “Blue Wolf” facial recognition tracking system during each shift. The tracking system is part of Israel’s larger network of surveillance and control over Palestinians in the occupied territories, impacting virtually every aspect of their lives.
- In May, Israel imposed new restrictions on Palestinian universities, requiring them to get permission from Israel’s occupying army for visiting lecturers from foreign countries and limiting them to certain fields Israel deems “essential.” Israel also limited the number of foreign students allowed to study at Palestinian universities to just 150 a year and only in certain fields. As noted by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper:
“The new procedures come after 15 years of Israel gradually tightening limitations on entry of citizens of friendly countries, whose destination is the Palestinian communities (and not settlements) in the West Bank. The worsening limitations also target spouses of Palestinian residents, businesspeople, lecturers and students.”
Messianic Jewish extremists and Israel’s government continued to incite tensions around the Noble Sanctuary Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem, one of the most sensitive holy sites in the world.
- Jewish extremists, including Israel’s current minister for national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, made numerous provocative visits to the 1,300 year-old Noble Sanctuary Mosque complex, the third holiest site in Islam, known as the Temple Mount to Jews. A record number of Jewish Israelis in general visited the site in 2022, something that until recent years was forbidden by most rabbis for theological reasons. In April, six Jewish extremists were arrested for planning to sacrifice a goat in the Noble Sanctuary ahead of Passover.
- Messianic Jewish extremists also continued to push for Jews to be allowed to pray openly in the Noble Sanctuary, which is currently prohibited under Israeli law, with the ultimate goal of building a Jewish temple in its place. Although successive Israeli governments have declared they have no intention of changing the “status quo” agreement whereby Muslims pray in the Noble Sanctuary and Jews pray at the adjacent Western Wall, during the year Israeli police increasingly allowed Jewish extremists to pray openly in the Noble Sanctuary, a practice the police began a few years ago under Netanyahu’s previous government.
- In April, Israeli police invaded the Noble Sanctuary and assaulted worshippers using tear gas, sponge-tipped steel bullets, and clubs, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The violence began with Ben-Gvir’s visit and police brutality against Palestinians in East Jerusalem’s Old City ahead of Ramadan. Hundreds of Palestinians were injured in the violence and some 500 were arrested.
The FIFA World Cup in Qatar demonstrated the failure of the Abraham Accords and US efforts to normalize Israel’s apartheid regime in the region.
- Players from the surprise upstart Moroccan team waved the Palestinian flag after each victory, proclaiming their support for the Palestinian cause, as did fans in the stands. Morocco is one of four governments that normalized diplomatic relations with Israel under the so-called Abraham Accords brokered by the Trump administration, the other three being Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan.
- Ordinary Qataris and soccer fans visiting from other parts of the Arab world also made clear to Israeli journalists on the streets in Qatar that although some authoritarian governments and elites in the region are willing to overlook Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and accept its apartheid regime, the masses of the people in the Middle East are not.
Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power after Israelis elected the most right-wing and overtly racist government in the country’s 74-year history.
- In December, Netanyahu, already Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, returned to power after a year and a half in the opposition as head of the most hard right and overtly racist government in the country’s history. Senior members include religious extremists and fascists who want to turn Israel into a Jewish theocracy and call for the expulsion of indigenous Palestinians from Palestine/Israel.
- Of particular note, the government includes in senior positions disciples of the notorious Brooklyn-born Meir Kahane, who called for the enslavement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Kahane’s Kach party was banned from Israeli politics in the 1980s due to its extreme racism and incitement to violence. Kach and other Kahanist groups were outlawed as terrorist organizations by the US government due to violent attacks carried out by their members, including the massacre of 29 Palestinians in the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank in 1994. Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the extremist Jewish Power party and Kahane disciple, is minister of national security in the new government, with expanded powers and control over Israel’s domestic police and paramilitary border police in the West Bank.
General facts & figures
Palestinians killed & injured by Israelis in the occupied territories
220: Number of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the territories occupied by the Israeli military since 1967 (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza), including approximately 170 in the West Bank, the highest number since 2004.
53: Number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the occupied territories.
At least 4: Number of Palestinians killed by Israeli settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Approximately 10,000: Number of Palestinians injured by Israelis in the occupied territories.
Israeli settler violence against Palestinians & their property
At least 4: Number of Palestinians killed by Israeli settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank.
At least 838: Number of violent attacks carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank causing death, injury and/or significant property damage, an increase of almost 88% over 2021.
At least 161: Number of settler attacks that resulted in Palestinian casualties in the West Bank.
Often: Israeli soldiers protected settlers while they attacked Palestinians and their property (see video), sometimes joining in the assault and/or detaining or arresting the Palestinian victims instead of the settler perpetrators.
Homes destroyed & Palestinians made homeless by Israel in the occupied territories
At least 1,294: Number of Palestinians forcibly displaced by Israel’s destruction of their homes in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem because the homes were built without permission from Israel, which is almost impossible for them to obtain. They included 1,022 in the West Bank and 272 in East Jerusalem, including 135 children.
At least 1,084: Number of Palestinian homes and other buildings (including businesses and agricultural structures) destroyed by Israel in the occupied territories, including at least 950 in the West Bank and at least 134 in East Jerusalem. Palestinians are frequently forced to destroy their own homes or be charged a large fine by Israel to do it.
More than 1,000: Number of Palestinians under imminent threat of being forced out of their homes in Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank, where Israel is engaged in the largest single expulsion of Palestinians it has carried out in decades.
Expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land
4,427: Number of new West Bank settlement units that passed one of two planning stages.
400: Number of tenders issued by Israel’s government for the construction of new settlement units in East Jerusalem.
Upwards of 750,000: Total number of Israeli settlers living on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law and longstanding US policy.
293: Total number of Israeli settlements built illegally on Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, including 146 official settlements and some 147 nascent settlement “outposts” built in violation of Israeli law as well as international law, but with the tacit approval of Israel’s government.
Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails (as of December 12, 2022)
4,700: Number of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, according to Addameer: Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
150: Number of Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel.
34: Number of Palestinian women imprisoned by Israel.
835: Number of Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial by Israel using a practice called “administrative detention,” which has been condemned as fundamentally unjust by human rights organizations and the UN. Israel imprisoned more Palestinians without charge or trial during 2022 than at any point since 2003.
5: Number of Palestinian Legislative Council members imprisoned by Israel.