Human rights violations have increased in the wake of the recent spike of terrorism, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said on Sunday.
The organization published its annual 2014 State of Human Rights Situation Report, following International Human Rights Day, which is observed annually on December 10.
In the report, ACRI reviewed the human rights situation in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip over the past year, addressing the wave of terrorism that has spread across Israel.
“Since September, the conflict that erupted in east Jerusalem has spread across Israel. Frequent violent incidents have led to casualties in Israel and the West Bank, sown fear and undermined the regular routine of life,” the report stated.
According to ACRI, in times of emergency like this, the duty of the government is to protect the personal safety of every person, regardless of nationality, while ensuring to uphold basic human rights principles.
“Unfortunately, the response of Israeli authorities during this difficult time has been frequently characterized by a tendency to prefer extreme measures, unnecessary infringement of rights and liberties, and excessive use of force,” the report asserted.
The report criticized security forces that it claimed shoot to kill Palestinians who “assaulted Israelis or were suspected of doing so, when there was no justification to do so according to the rules of engagement.”
It noted that “when the suspects in an assault were Jews, none of them were shot (except for a young Jewish man who was apparently thought to be a Palestinian).”
The report criticized Knesset members and public officials for their responses to terrorism, stating that MKs proposed amendments to laws and regulations that “deviate from the principles of the Youth Law, which was formulated to protect the rights of minors and enable their rehabilitation.”
These amendments include the “Stop and Frisk” bill, which seeks to enable police officers to stop a person on the street and conduct a search.
In addition, the report claimed that public officials have made inappropriate statements that contributed to “fanning the flames,” such as calling to take revenge and encouraging the public to bear arms. “Intensified emotions” resulting from such statements “prepared the ground for the horrific lynch that took place in Beersheba’s central bus station,” where an Eritrean who was suspected of involvement in a terrorist attack while it was taking place was murdered.
The report also said that “measures were taken against Arab citizens – at work, educational institutions and public spaces – merely because they are Arabs,” and claimed that “the situation in Jerusalem has become even more volatile and explosive than usual.”
According to the report, “testimonies gathered by ACRI indicate that during this period, the police and border police have employed excessive use of force in a manner that has caused severe and unjustified harm to the general population.”
The report listed examples, such as the use of black sponge-tipped bullets, which are “twice as hard and heavy” as blue-tipped bullets, as a means to disperse riots; use of skunk spray in an “excessive and unreasonable manner;” the blockade of neighborhoods; denying Palestinian residents entry into the Old City; and increased and selective enforcement of laws on the east Jerusalem population.
The report also devoted a section to “settler” violence against Palestinians and the lack of law enforcement on this issue.
“The severity of assaults by settlers and failed investigations of these assaults is exacerbated by the fact that in many cases, these actions are backed by the silence and blind eye of soldiers present. In this way, the military ignores its responsibility under human rights law and international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinians who are under occupation,” the report stated.
It also noted that, “Of course, violent incidents in the Occupied Territories are not limited to one side only, and there are also severe assaults on settlers by Palestinians.”
“However,” the report stated, “unlike the vigorous investigations conducted by law enforcement authorities when Israeli citizens are assaulted, and the stringent enforcement against Palestinians that attack Jews, the state demonstrates extreme incompetence when addressing violence aimed by Jews against Palestinians.”
The report also addressed racism and discrimination and listed examples against Arabs, Ethiopian immigrants, the LGBT community, the ultra-Orthodox and women.
However, the report concluded, “It seems that the most concerning issue over the past year has been the move from words to actions,” citing the murder at the Jerusalem Gay Pride March; the arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication at the Sea of Galilee; the arson attack on the Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem; and physical assaults of asylum-seekers.
Based on financial information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, in accordance with the Israeli NGO transparency law, ACRI received NIS 2,838,329 from foreign governmental bodies in 2014. In addition, the New Israel Fund authorized grants worth $6,642,258 to ACRI in the period from 2008 to 2013.