Security Measures Are Violating Rights in Israel Proper Too, Civil Rights Group Says

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel notes detention without trial and politicians’ statements that encourage lawbreaking.

Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer
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Israeli soldiers fire tear gas to disperse Palestinian protesters during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Hebron, last month. Friction between Palestinians and army forces has been exacerbated in the last two months.
IDF soldiers firing tear gas at Palestinian demonstrators in Hebron, November 2015Credit: AFP
Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer

Security measures that violate human rights, a phenomenon once largely confined to the occupied territories, are increasingly being used inside Israel as well, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel warned in its annual report published Thursday.

This is particularly notable regarding detention without trial – known as administrative detention – and other less severe restrictions on movement, the ACRI said.

It cited data revealed during a Knesset debate last month showing that 54 Jews had been served with orders barring them from entering the West Bank, while 62 Palestinians had been served with orders barring them from Jerusalem, its Old City or the Temple Mount. Moreover, for the first time, minors with Israeli residency have been put in administrative detention.

Since the current wave of Palestinian terror began in September, politicians and government officials have made statements that fanned the flames and even explicitly encouraged lawbreaking, the report said.

It cited Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s statement that “Every terrorist needs to know he won’t survive the attack he’s about to commit,” MK Yair Lapid’s statement that “One should shoot to kill anyone who pulls out a knife or a screwdriver or whatever,” and Jerusalem police chief Moshe Edri’s statement that “Anyone who stabs Jews or harms innocent people should be killed.”

Thanks to these statements and the increased ease of securing a gun license, there has been a “meteoric rise” in the number of applications for gun licenses – to about 3,000 from 200 per day, the report said.

“The government and the Knesset have an obligation to take effective steps to deal with these serious incidents that have claimed victims, sown fear and undermined day-to-day life,” the ACRI’s executive director, Sharon Abraham-Weiss, told a press conference.

“But they must do so without deviating from the principles of criminal law and while taking human rights into account. It must be remembered that decisions made at such times, in haste and in the heat of the moment, could remain even after the security situation has calmed and continue to gnaw at us.”

The report also addressed issues besides the security situation, including the status of women. It noted that 12 women had been killed this year by their spouses or other relatives. Eight of the victims were Israeli Arabs.

On the bright side, it cited an improvement in the legal status of the LGBT community, thanks to two court rulings. In one, the National Labor Court ruled that the law barring workplace discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation also barred discrimination based on gender identity.

In the other, a family court granted a lesbian couple’s application to be recognized as the parents of each other’s children without requiring an investigation by the welfare authorities.

Regarding social rights, the report praised a new rule that forbids water companies from turning off the tap when people owe them money unless they obtain permission from the head of the Water Authority. The Electricity Authority has drafted a similar rule that was recently released for public comment before being finalized; the ACRI urged that it be implemented.

“Even though the rules are still far from providing the substantive protection of consumers that is needed, this is an important step in the right direction,” the report said.

The ACRI also praised an agreement between the Finance Ministry and the Histadrut labor federation under which some 15,000 contract workers in the public sector would become regular employees. Still, it warned that the harmful practice of contract labor remained widespread with hundreds of thousands of workers still employed as contract workers in the public sector alone.

The report was released Thursday to coincide with International Human Rights Day.



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