Human Rights Watch on Thursday filed its annual 2016 report with its main focus on an international trend of "politics of fear...crushing civil society," a discussion of transgender rights and addressing violations of children's rights by forced early marriage and detention - through November 27.
The report did not have a major focus on Israel as some past reports have, but it did criticize Israel harshly in the individual countries section and mentioned Israel among a list of other countries who it said detain children (Palestinians) too often for national security or other reasons.
HRW said, "There was a sharp rise in killings and injuries related to Israeli-Palestinian hostilities beginning in October. Overall, Palestinians killed at least 17 Israeli civilians and 3 Israeli soldiers, and injured 87 Israeli civilians and 80 security officers in the West Bank and Israel...Israeli security forces killed at least 120 and injured at least 11,953 Palestinian civilians in West Bank, Gaza, and Israel…including bystanders, protesters, and suspected assailants."
It accused Israel of taking "inadequate action against Israeli settlers who injured 84 Palestinians and damaged their property in 130 incidents."
The report did note the infamous Duma attack, saying that "Israeli security officers arrested three Israelis in connection with an arson attack, which killed a Palestinian couple and their toddler."
However, since the report closed as of the end of November it did not mention the indictments of Amiram Ben Uliel and a minor in relation to the Duma attack.
Honing in on home demolitions, the report said, "Israeli authorities destroyed homes and other property under discriminatory practices that severely restrict Palestinians’ access to construction permits and forcibly displaced hundreds of Palestinian residents in West Bank areas under Israeli control, as well as Bedouin citizens of Israel. Israeli courts have been unwilling to rule on the legality of the settlements under international law."
Regarding the Palestinian Authority, HRW stated it had "arrested students allegedly for their affiliation with Hamas or political criticism, some of whom alleged mistreatment in detention. Hamas security forces allegedly tortured or ill-treated 258 people as of July 31, and Palestinian armed groups launched 20 rockets into Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza as of October 31."
Addressing the 2014 Gaza war and war crimes allegations against Israel and Hamas, it stated that neither "have prosecuted anyone for alleged crimes committed during the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, which, according to the UN, killed 1,462 Palestinian civilians, including 551 children, and 6 civilians in Israel, including one child.
Later in the report, it acknowledged that Israel had opened 10 criminal investigations, though statistics provided by the IDF indicate it has opened nearly 30 criminal investigations.
The report also noted that no indictments have been filed by Israel related to the war besides for theft, but it declined to note that most of the criminal investigations are still open and some of the most serious events, such as the Hannibal Protocol incident in August 2014, are still at an initial stage of review.
The UNHRC has criticized the IDF for moving slowly to decide these cases, but a September government report led by former foreign ministry director-general Joseph Ciechanover said that in the most complex war incidents, it would give the IDF a few more months to decide before it passes the maximum reasonable deadline.
The report also criticizes Israel regarding its treatment of African migrants, Beduins and general legislation viewed as anti-democratic.
NGO Monitor responded to the report stating, "HRW claims to '...scrupulously investigate abuses, expose the facts widely, and pressure those with power to respect rights and secure justice.' In contrast, as this report again shows, they lack any consistent or credible methodology, and, particularly for Israel, their reports are based on political bias, rather than "facts" or universal human rights norms."
The group, which monitors NGO reports on Israel, said that, "HRW again provides no sources for its allegations, such as the claim that from the beginning of October, '11,953 Palestinian civilians in West Bank, Gaza, and Israel' were injured, 'including bystanders, protesters, and suspected assailants.' In a period of 12 weeks, this would mean 1000 per week -- an absurd exaggeration, by any accounting."
The HRW report lays most of the blame for slow rebuilding of Gaza housing post the 2014 Gaza war on Israel.
Responding, NGO Monitor said, "Contrary to HRW's claims, former delays in Gaza reconstruction were primarily due to Palestinian infighting (Fatah wanted full oversight over the process); failure of donor countries (mostly Arab) in paying pledges; and diversion by Hamas of cement and other materials to rebuild their own infrastructure and terror tunnels. Even Qatar acknowledged that Israel had nothing to do with the delays."
The group also slammed HRW for what it called underplaying attacks and incitement against Israelis by Palestinians and the role of Iran and Hezbollah in destabilizing the Middle East.
The Foreign Ministry had not responded by press time.
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