Alarming increase of human rights violations against Palestinians in the occupied territory and against Palestinian citizens of Israel

Vincenzo Circosta / ANADOLU / Anadolu via AFP

While still calling for an immediate ceasefire to end the targeting of civilians and allow for humanitarian aid into Gaza, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is alarmed by a further spate of severe human rights violations in Israel and the occupied territory. FIDH warns third states that their unconditional support for the State of Israel makes them complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses being documented, not only in the Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Ramallah, Jerusalem, Paris, 9 November 2023. Since 7 October 2023, FIDH’s Palestinian and Israeli-based member organisations have been gathering mounting evidence of a sharp spike in human rights abuses. In over four weeks, Israel has tightened its system of apartheid, committed mass killings of civilians and other punitive measures amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, enabled the killing and displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank, denied their freedom of movement, carried out hundreds of arbitrary arrests and administrative detentions, and subjected Palestinians detainees to ill-treatment and suspected incidents of torture.

Settler violence and forced displacement in the West Bank

In the West Bank, 158 Palestinians have been killed and over 2,250 were injured since 7 October 2023. During this period more than 171 settler attacks against Palestinians have been recorded, resulting in 26 different casualty incidents, damage to 115 Palestinian properties, and 30 reported incidents of both property damage and casualties. Israel has pushed forward with a plan for the large-scale arming of Israeli-Jewish settlers and civilian militias inside Israel, inciting settlers to carry out land grabs with the backing of the Israeli occupying forces. At least two Palestinian villages, Al-Qanub and Wadi Al-Sik, have been entirely depopulated as a result of violence by Israeli settlers.

“We have witnessed a continuation with an alarming rate of extrajudicial killings, and a shoot to kill policy of Palestinians in the West Bank. Some of these killings were carried out by Israeli extremist armed settlers who reside illegally in the West Bank and act with impunity and sometimes under the protection of the Israeli occupying forces” said Diana Alzeer, Al-Haq representative and FIDH Vice-President.

Mass arbitrary arrests of Palestinians and severe mistreatment in Israeli detention

The number of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel has spiked since October 7, 2023, increasing from 5,194 detainees to 6,340 during the month of October. This sharp increase of the incarcerated population, coupled with the punitive restriction of water and electricity supplies in overcrowded prison facilities amounts to ill-treatment and collective punishment. Israel has denied the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and families access to prisoners, and placed draconian limitations on visits by lawyers. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has denied prisoners access to some health services, putting those with chronic and acute conditions at particular risk. Two prisoners died two weeks ago, only after a few days in detention, under circumstances still under investigation by the IPS, while dozens of complaints are being received of arbitrary violence and humiliation of prisoners by IPS personnel.

In addition to these illegal detentions and reported human rights abuses, large numbers of Palestinian workers from Gaza had their permits to work in Israel revoked. Approximately 4,000 of these workers have been arbitrarily arrested and detained incommunicado. Some were released back in the Gaza Strip still under attack and siege on November 4, 2023, with clear signs of ill-treatment and abuse perpetrated during their arrest.

"We are alarmed by the mounting reports of ill treatment and abuse towards Palestinian detainees and prisoners held in Israeli facilities", said Tal Steiner, executive director of the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI). "Punitive detention conditions, arbitrary violence and humiliation of detainees and the intentional infliction of torture, should all be absolutely prohibited and unacceptable. Coupled with the denial of access to the prison facilities to the ICRC, families and lawyers, this raises the serious concern that under the guise of war, such violations of human rights are currently manifesting en-masse and away from the public eye".

Crackdown on freedom of speech of Palestinian citizens of Israel

In Israel, Palestinian citizens and others who dare to express dissent over Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza and its failure to uphold its obligations under international humanitarian law, have faced a major crackdown on their freedom of speech, and political persecution. FIDH’s Israel-based member organisations describe a true “witch hunt” for those who advocate for the human rights of Palestinians, especially in Gaza.

“The current wave of harsh political persecution and repression against Palestinian citizens of Israel is the direct result of a widespread and concerted effort involving government offices, Israeli institutions, and extremist right-wing groups, all of which are targeting Palestinian citizens and others who express support for or solidarity with the people of Gaza,” said a representative from The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah). "We have documented over 170 cases of arrests or interrogations related to alleged speech-related charges. Many of these arrests are carried out with brutal force in the middle of the night and without proper legal grounds. Adalah is also representing 88 Palestinian students, citizens of Israel, facing punitive measures at Israeli universities, including suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary actions, for social media posts, many of which simply express solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza. These oppressive measures are rooted in the long-standing view of the State of Israel that all Palestinians are enemies.”

The human rights violations described above are integral to the broader system of oppression that Israel operates against Palestinians and Israeli dissidents. The illegal occupation and the system of apartheid against the Palestinian people; a crime against humanity, must be dismantled if lasting peace and justice are to be achieved. FIDH will forever remain in solidarity with victims of human rights violations and dedicated to securing accountability for the crimes committed in violation of international law. FIDH calls for an urgent cease-fire and an end to the protracted blockade of the Gaza Strip, the entering of unrestricted humanitarian aid to Gaza, and the release of all hostages. Moreover FIDH urges third States and the ICC to address, without delay, the international crimes committed in Israel and against the Palestinian people.

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