U.S. Report Slams Rights Abuses

Israel and Palestinians Under Fire in State Dept. Report

Rights Questions: A State Department report raises questions about human rights abuses carried out by Israeli and Palestinian authorities.
getty images
Rights Questions: A State Department report raises questions about human rights abuses carried out by Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published June 01, 2012, issue of June 08, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The U.S. State Department has issued its annual [human rights report that detailing arbitrary arrests and killings in the Occupied Territories and discrimination against Arabs and refugees inside Israel.

The official assessment, one of nearly 200 country reports](http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper), paints both Palestinian and Israeli authorities as failing to live up to international human rights in the West Bank and Gaza.

“The [Palestinian Authority], Israeli and Hamas authorities took minimal steps to address impunity or reduce abuses,” stated the report, which was released May 24. “There were reports that the [Israel Defense Forces] and Hamas did not adequately pursue investigations and disciplinary actions related to violations.”

In Israel proper, the report described discrimination against Arab citizens and refugees, and labor abuses against foreign workers. In a much longer section on the occupied territories, the report detailed arbitrary arrests and detention by all sides, lack of political freedom for Gaza residents and the killing of civilians.

Neither the Embassy of Israel in Washington nor the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the United States responded to requests for comment.

Related in dry, bureaucratic language, the report, which covered 2011, made no recommendations and offered no analysis. Instead, it provided a recitation of statistics, incidents and third-party claims. Sources cited included the Israeli government, the Israeli military, local media, Israeli and Palestinian nongovernmental organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In the section on the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the report described abuses by all sides, including the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel.

It notes that Israeli forces killed 105 Palestinians in 2011, including 18 minors. “Some of these killings were unlawful,” the report states without elaborating. Israel has often claimed that it investigates all civilian killings and that soldiers are disciplined for improper conduct.

Hamas unlawfully executed at least five civilians in Gaza, the report said. It also said that P.A. security forces killed at least one Israeli citizen in the West Bank and that Palestinian terrorist groups committed a number of unlawful killings.

The report described widespread complaints of abuse and torture against the P.A. and Hamas. It called P.A. prisons “seriously inadequate.”

It also cited allegations that interrogation methods used by the Israelis on Palestinian detainees, including minors, could amount to torture. The report noted that Israel restricted movements of Palestinians within the West Bank and on boundary areas within Gaza. Travel in and out of Gaza was also limited. The report stated that the Israeli authorities have made 85% of fishing waters off Gaza mostly or entirely inaccessible to Palestinians.

In Israel proper, the report described a markedly better human rights situation compared with that of the Occupied Territories. But the State Department still cited a number of human rights concerns, specifically relating to minority communities.

The report noted concerns about accessibility of temporary asylum status for refugees, and stated that Sudanese and Eritreans were denied access to asylum. The report also cited inflammatory language by Israeli politicians referring to asylum-seekers as “infiltrators.”

Discrimination against Arab citizens and a lack of resources for Arab schools were also mentioned along with particular economic hardship for Bedouins.

The report also described abuse of foreign workers.

Non-Orthodox Jewish religious groups were also cited as targets of discrimination. Civil marriages, non-Orthodox Jewish marriage and intermarriages are not allowed inside the country, the report noted. A law on the books that requires the government to create nonreligious cemeteries has yet to be implemented.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter @joshnathankazis


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.