State accused of trampling human rights of settlers

Paper presents eight areas in which the rights of settlers and their supporters were allegedly violated.

settlers police clash 88 (photo credit: )
settlers police clash 88
(photo credit: )
State authorities have "trampled" on the rights of settlers in the West Bank and their supporters, according to the right-wing group, Human Rights in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The organization, in a paper issued to mark International Human Rights Week, on Monday also accused The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) of failing to protect these rights. The paper presented eight areas in which the rights of settlers and their supporters were allegedly violated. High among them were the eviction of settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in 2005, and the failure to solve the problems of the settlers who were evicted. The group also claimed that civil rights were violated in the refusal of the government to return Jewish property in Hebron to its owners, and that the government suppressed the right of the anti-disengagement camp to protest. "Over the years, the need emerged for 'our own' human rights organization that would regard the settlers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as people with rights and not second-, third- or fourth-class citizens," said Orit Struck, the organization's spokeswoman. As an example, she said the government had not made the necessary preparations to absorb the settlers from Gaza and northern Samaria after they were forced to leave their homes. She quoted the former chairwoman of the Knesset State Control Committee, Meli Polishook-Bloch, as saying at the time, "There is no doubt the government's handling of this matter was improper, to say the least." Regarding Jewish farmers in the West Bank, the organization charged that the authorities protected Palestinian farmers, such as olive growers, from attacks by settlers, but did not protect Jewish farmers from attacks by Palestinians. It referred to a survey that allegedly revealed a situation in which "there are systematic attacks against Jewish farmers in Judea and Samaria," but the law enforcement authorities don't lift a finger to fight it. According to the paper, the government is causing "systematic and continuous" harm to the rights of the Jews who fled Hebron after the 1929 massacre by not returning their property to them. It charged that the Custodian of Abandoned Properties treated this property as his own and "systematically prefers to act to advance the rights of Hebron's Arabs regarding [their rental rights to] these properties, even though in many cases it is legally and practically possible to end them." In response to the allegations that ACRI did not defend the settlers, a spokeswoman for the organization, Melanie Takefman, told The Jerusalem Post ACRI has in the past, does today and will continue in the future to defend the rights of Jewish residents of the territories. "ACRI makes no geographic distinctions among people," she said. "We believe in the universality of human rights."