ACRI report: Government response to wave of violence shows ‘worrisome trend’ on human rights

Report accuses government of careening down a “slippery slope” of unprecedented infractions against human rights.

December 10, 2015 06:22
2 minute read.
POLICE FORCES walk outside the capital’s central bus station after a Palestinian stabbed a woman

POLICE FORCES walk outside the capital’s central bus station after a Palestinian stabbed a woman nearby. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The government’s response to the current wave of violence has shown a “worrisome trend” of attacks on human rights, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel’s 2015 says in annual report being released on Thursday for International Human Rights Day.

The report accuses the government of careening down a “slippery slope” of unprecedented infractions against human rights.

A substantial part of the problem is the “widespread adoption in Israel and east Jerusalem of means and methods which had been in use in the West Bank, which cause greater harm to a wider cross-section of the population,” the report says.

According to ACRI, “the trend of harming rights to personal body security, to a fair trial, freedom of speech” started during the 2014 Gaza war and has “gotten worse since the wave of violence which started in September.”

The report describes a substantial rise in detentions, including administrative arrests or detention without trial, and restraining orders to keep specific people away from the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Defying Left versus Right categorization, the report protests both the administrative detention of Palestinians, and right-wing Jewish activists.

It says such restrictions have been slapped on 62 Palestinians and 54 Jews, and denounced these practices as an attempt to bypass due process.

The report also slams a Knesset bill that proposes allowing police to undertake a much wider range of full body searches on an “arbitrary, humiliating and discriminatory basis” and says such a measure would create a “gaping hole” in people’s rights.

It also blasted politicians and senior police officials for encouraging ordinary citizens to arm themselves with guns and ready themselves to use them in the event of a terrorist attack.

Consequently, legal limits on the use of deadly force have been ignored several times and there have been several instances in which innocent people have been killed, ACRI says. The report also criticizes the Attorney General for police to use less lethal Ruger rifles against stone-throwers in east Jerusalem and inside the Green Line, while expanding the definition of where life is deemed to be under threat .

It charges that the introduction of Ruger rifles in crow-control situations amounts to a slippery slope toward using lethal means for non-lethal situations.

ACRI also slams multiple attempts to annul the citizenship or benefits of east Jerusalem Arabs or of Israeli-Arab family members of terrorists.

The human rights group also complains against police using stink sprays for crowd control against Israelis of Ethiopian origin and Israeli Arabs, including sometimes spraying inside people’s houses.

It accuses the state of making insufficient progress toward addressing social justice and socioeconomic inequalities.

The report acknowledges some “minor” improvements made on behalf of weaker sectors of society, such as the Knesset withholding approval for blocking water supply cuts to impoverished people behind on their payments.

ACRI cites some improvements made in handling debtors but says draconian means are still employed to collect debts from the poor, and that poorer citizens face electric power cuts when they fall behind on their bills.

The reports says that even as “it is the obligation of the government and the Knesset to take effective steps to address serious incidents...

they must do this without deviating from the principles of criminal law and taking human rights into account.”

It expresses concern that hasty decisions taken during a national security crisis often come at the expense of civil liberties and aren’t always lifted as soon as the crisis passes.

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