Born Without Civil Rights, Israel’s Use of...
The occupation affects almost every aspect of Palestinians’ lives in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem :
Palestinians can’t live free of Israeli military presence.
Palestinians in Gaza can’t control the flow of goods and supplies.
Palestinians can’t control their access to water in the occupied territories.
Palestinians can’t access certain life-saving health care.
Palestinians can’t live in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
Most Palestinians can’t enjoy the rights of citizenship.
Palestinians don’t have the same due process and civil rights as Israelis.
Palestinians can’t travel in, out and through occupied territories without restriction.
Palestinians aren’t equally protected by labor laws.
Palestinians can’t stay out late.
The Israeli army has deprived generations of Palestinians of their basic civil rights, regularly drawing on military orders issued in the first days of the occupation. Even if such restrictions could have been justified then to preserve public order and safety, the suspension of core rights more than half a century later with no end in sight violates Israel’s core responsibilities under the law of occupation. Israel remains principally in control of the West Bank, despite limited Palestinian Authority rule over certain areas, and yet has failed to provide the people living under its control with the rights they are due, including the right to equal treatment without regard to race, religion or national identity.
The Human Rights Watch 92-page report, “Born Without Civil Rights : Israel’s Use of Draconian Military Orders to Repress Palestinians in the West Bank,” evaluates Israeli military orders that criminalize nonviolent political activity, including protesting, publishing material “having a political significance,” and joining groups “hostile” to Israel.
Human Rights Watch conducted 29 interviews, primarily with former detainees and lawyers who represented them, reviewed military court indictments and decisions, and examined eight illustrative cases of activists, journalists, and other Palestinians detained under restrictive Israeli orders in the last five years.
Other governments and international organizations concerned with the rights of Palestinians should endorse a civil rights framework to highlight the impact of Israel’s restrictive military orders in the West Bank and press Israel to grant Palestinians full civil and other rights.
British Mandate-era regulations that remain in force in the West Bank and military orders that Israel has issued since it captured the West Bank in 1967 allow the Israeli army to strip Palestinians of basic civil rights protections. The regulations, for example, allow Israel to declare unlawful groups that advocate “bringing into hatred or contempt, or the exciting of disaffection against” local authorities and to arrest Palestinians for affiliation with such groups. The military orders impose prison terms of up to 10 years on civilians convicted by military courts for influencing public opinion in a way that could “harm public peace or public order.”
These sweeping restrictions apply only to the 2.5 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, but not to the more than 400,000 Israeli settlers in the same territory, illegal settlements, who fall under Israeli civil law. That law, which also applies in East Jerusalem – annexed by Israel, but still occupied territory under international law – and in Israel, much more robustly safeguards the rights to free expression and assembly.
Since 1967, the Israeli Defense Ministry has banned more than 411 organizations, among them all major Palestinian political parties. The army has banned a wide range of other civil society groups. Between September 2015 and May 2016, Israeli security forces detained five Palestinians based on their employment with a charitable organization, Qatar Charity, that works in more than 50 countries and has partnered with, among others, the United Nations, Doctors without Borders, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
For more than two-thirds of the period since the establishment of the state of Israel, Israeli authorities have deprived the nearly 2.5 million Palestinians they rule over in the West Bank of their basic rights. Israeli officials openly speak of their intent to permanently rule over Palestinians in the West Bank. Whatever the political arrangements, nothing can justify the continued enforcement of these restrictions and the entrenched two-tiered discriminatory system in the West Bank today.
Here are some recommendations of Human Rights Watch to the media and internet service providers :
- Scrutinize and disclose the susceptibility of platforms and users’ online speech to indiscriminate or otherwise potentially rights-violating monitoring or aggregation by governments, and create rights protections accordingly.
- Review government requests to restrict user content, including from Israeli and Palestinian authorities, for compliance with domestic law and international human rights law, and take steps to prevent or mitigate the impact of these requests on the exercise of freedom of expression and the right to privacy.
- Allow individuals who face risk of reprisal for their peaceful expression on social media to use pseudonyms on your platforms.
It's worth mentioning that on 20 December, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has announced that her office’s preliminary examination into the “Situation in Palestine” has concluded that war crimes have been committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and that “all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation have been met”. “This announcement offers a crucial opportunity to break the cycle of impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity. An International Criminal Court investigation paves the way for the thousands that have suffered as a result of these crimes to finally gain long overdue access to truth, justice and reparation.” " This is a historic step towards justice after decades of war crimes and other crimes under international law committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories".Said Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther.