US rights report speaks of Palestinian antisemitism, settler violence

The report referenced the PA payments to "persons convicted of terrorism" against Israelis and  "families of those who died committing terrorist attacks."

 SETTLERS HURL stones at Palestinians during the annual harvest season, near the settlement of Yitzhar in 2020.  (photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
SETTLERS HURL stones at Palestinians during the annual harvest season, near the settlement of Yitzhar in 2020.
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

Palestinians engaged in antisemitism, Holocaust denial and incitement against Jews in 2021, the US said in its annual country report for human rights on Israel, the West Bank and Gaza published Tuesday.

The report referenced antisemitic rhetoric by Palestinians and Muslim religious leaders, including Holocaust denial. Antisemitism was “also regularly featured in public discourse, including expressions of longing for a world without Israel and glorification of terror attacks on Israelis and Jews,” the report stated.

“During times of heightened tensions between Israeli authorities and Palestinians, Palestinian press and social media sometimes circulated cartoons encouraging terrorist attacks against Israelis, and official PA media outlets published and broadcast material that included antisemitic content,” the report explained.

It also spoke of the use, by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, of PA textbooks that include antisemitic content and incitement to violence against Israelis. There was a failure, it said, to speak of Judaism when discussing Christianity and Islam.

The report referenced the PA payments to “persons convicted of terrorism” against Israelis and “families of those who died committing terrorist attacks.”

 Demonstrators take part in protests outside a meeting of the National Executive of Britain's Labour Party which will discuss the party's definition of antisemitism, in London (credit: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS) Demonstrators take part in protests outside a meeting of the National Executive of Britain's Labour Party which will discuss the party's definition of antisemitism, in London (credit: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS)

The wide-ranging report looked at human rights issues within sovereign Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza in 2021, during a year in which there was a Gaza war, a spike in West Bank violence and Jewish and Arab ethnic riots.

It provided data on violence, noting that there was an average of 2.5 daily incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank in the first half of 2021.

According to the report, there was a sharp increase in settler attacks, with the IDF reporting 416 such incidents in the first half of 2021, compared to the 507 settler attacks in all of 2020.

Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz said that “the IDF did not have the authority to arrest Israelis who attacked Palestinians in the West Bank,” according to the report.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about settler violence when he was in Jerusalem last month.

The report referenced the 13 people killed by Palestinian rockets from Gaza, including two Thai and an Indian civilian, and the four Israelis killed in individual terror attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

“There was a total of 4,575 terror attacks, including rockets and mortars, of which 2,805 were registered in May, according to the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency],” the report stated.

It looked at Israeli practices in the West Bank such as the IDF demolition of illegal Palestinian homes in the West Bank and the lack of building permits for Palestinians in Area C, which is under IDF military and civilian control.

Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas all engaged in acts of “arbitrary killings,” the report stated.

The PA and Hamas imprisoned or detained politicians and journalists, the report explained adding that there were issues with media freedom and free expression, including restrictions on protests and harassment of nongovernmental organizations.

There were crimes in Areas A and B of the West Bank ‘involving violence and threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons; and reports of the worst forms of child labor,” the report said.

Israel is “using disproportionate” force against Palestinians, the US said, as it also accused it of “unjustified arrests and prosecutions against [Palestinian] journalists and censorship.”

There are, the report said, “restrictions on ‘Palestinians residing in Jerusalem,’ including arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, and home; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including harassment of nongovernmental organizations; and restrictions on freedom of movement and residence.”

The report relied heavily on data from the United Nations and Israeli nongovernmental groups.