US State Department highlights Israel’s human rights violations
The Obama Administration criticized Israel, as well as the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, in the 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The State Department’s 40th annual review was released by Secretary of State John Kerry last week.
The 124 page “Israel and The Occupied Territories” report cited terrorist attacks, societal violence, discrimination, and mistreatment of refugees as major problems in Israel.
“The most significant human rights problems were terrorist attacks targeting civilians and politically and religiously motivated societal violence; institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel, many of whom self-identify as Palestinian, including the Bedouin, in particular in access to equal education and employment opportunities; institutional and societal discrimination against Ethiopian Israelis and women; and the treatment of refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants,” the report read.
According to the document, Arab citizens of Israel (Palestinians) “faced institutional and societal discrimination,” and were the targets of racial profiling and revenge attacks. The report cited several instances of racially motivated attacks, including the case of a Jewish Israeli who stabbed four Arabs and stated that he believed “all Arabs are terrorists.” The document also highlights continued “price tag” attacks by extremist Jewish groups or individuals.
In the “Occupied Territories” section of the document, the State Department accused both Hamas and the Israeli Security Forces for committing the most pressing human rights abuses.
“The most significant human rights abuses were restrictions on civil liberties, particularly by Hamas in Gaza; excessive use of force by Israeli Security Forces (ISF) in a number of their interactions with Palestinian civilians, and arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, often with impunity by multiple actors in the region. Residents of the occupied territories had limited ability to hold governing authorities accountable for such abuses,” the report read.
According to the report, in 2015 the ISF killed 149 Palestinians, of whom only 77 were attempting attacks on Israelis.
“There were numerous reports of the ISF (Israel security forces) killing Palestinians during riots, demonstrations, at checkpoints, and during routine operations; in some cases they did not pose a threat to life,” the report stated.
The document also highlighted reports of mistreatment of Palestinian detainees, the ISF’s restrictions of movement in and out of the Gaza Strip, and violence against Palestinians by settlers.
According to the report, Hamas’ human rights abuses include the murder or abuse of opponents such as Fatah members, attacks against Israeli civilians, and public executions. The State
Department also charged Hamas with infringing on privacy rights and restricting the freedom of inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, and promoting anti-Semitism.
The State Department also criticized the Palestinian Authority for not condemning anti-Semitism at times and using “martyr” to refer to Palestinians, who were killed while attacking Israelis.
Other countries who were accused of human rights abuses in the reports include Iran, Egypt, Venezuela, North Korea, and Russia. The complete 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices report can be viewed here.