Aftrican migrants pack after night in TA park_370.
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
NEW YORK – In its new 2012 report on human rights released on Friday, the US
State Department gave “Israel and The Occupied Territories” a relatively
positive report card, noting few institutional problems with the country’s
system of government, but a number of qualms with the execution of
The report listed Israel’s greatest human rights challenges as
“terrorist attacks against civilians; institutional and societal discrimination
against Arab citizens, in particular access to equal education and employment
opportunities; societal discrimination and domestic violence against women; and
the treatment of refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants.”
its detailing of these problems, the report consistently cites the Israeli
government’s own studies on its performance, and salutes the freedom given to
its press to reveal the country’s challenges as well as the virtually unlimited
access and movement provided to NGOs that are not necessarily friendly to the
government in power.
Reports from those NGOs are the source of many of
the State Department’s complaints, including the inadequate treatment of
prisoners in at least two detention centers that are allegedly overcrowded and
lacking in proper medical and legal services.
But the State report notes
that Israeli law requires the protection of prisoner health and dignity, as well
as the protection of religious observance, and that all prisoners retain access
to legal counsel.
No citizen political prisoners or detainees were
Interestingly, there is no meaningful mention of settlements in
the report. But it does address refugees extensively, noting UNHCR complaints
about the government’s transparency with its statistics.
significantly increased its capacity to detain and hold illegal migrants during
the year by enlarging existing detention facilities and constructing the first
wing of a new 10,000-bed facility,” the report reads, calling out the government
and local media outlets for referring to asylum-seekers as
The report notes the country’s continuing struggle with
women’s rights in traditional Orthodox and Muslim communities, and specifically
calls out gender segregation at the Western Wall, tipping its hat to the
Netanyahu government for studying the issue to “suggest ways to make the Western
Wall site more accommodating to all Jews.”
And while the United States
government acknowledges that vocal public criticism reliably follows
discriminatory attacks against Israel’s 130,000 Ethiopian Jews, it still
expresses worry that the attacks persist with frequency.
lesbians are protected, and given dignity, the report notes.
was not a problem,” the report concluded.
“The government took steps to
prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses in the country regardless of
rank or seniority.”