Human Rights Watch welcomes Israel’s participation in its second Universal Periodic Review but remains concerned with human rights violations by Israeli authorities in Israel and in the occupied territories.
Israeli authorities have not held accountable members of the security forces responsible for apparently unlawful killings of Palestinian civilians. In August 2013, for example, after clashes erupted during an arrest raid in Qalandia refugee camp, Israeli security forces fatally shot Roubin Zayed, an UNRWA employee whom witnesses said Israel forces shot at close range while he was walking to work. Israeli authorities have not prosecuted anyone for his death.
Israeli authorities have also failed to adequately enforce the law against Israeli settlers in occupied territories who have harmed Palestinians and their property in hundreds of attacks.
In 2013, Israeli authorities illegally demolished the homes of more than 1,100 Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. They also confiscated or demolished emergency shelters donated by humanitarian agencies to affected Palestinians. The forcible transfer of civilians by an occupying power is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
Israel’s purported justification for these demolitions was a discriminatory planning regime that allocates land to settlements but makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits.Israel continues to build new, illegal settlement housing units and other infrastructure under a different planning regime than the one it imposes on Palestinians, and to provide settlers with a variety of incentives to move to the occupied territories. The transfer of Israeli civilians to occupied Palestinian territory is also a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
HRW is also concerned by Israel’s continued arbitrary detention of Palestinians, particularly under administrative detention, as well as by its continued excessive restrictions on their freedom of movement, and by Israel’s and Egypt’s ongoing punitive closure of Gaza.
Human Rights Watch is also concerned by rights abuses within Israel. Bedouin citizens of Israel who live in “unrecognized” villages suffered discriminatory home demolitions on the basis that their homes were built illegally. Yet, Israeli authorities refused to prepare plans for the communities or approve construction permits, and rejected plans submitted by the communities themselves, but retroactively legalized Jewish-owned private farms and planned new Jewish communities in the same areas.
In September 2013, Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the “anti-infiltration law,” which provided for the prolonged detention of asylum seekers. However, in December Israel enacted a new law under which it continues to detain asylum seekers. Israel has also deported thousands of Sudanese and Eritrean nationals under a procedure in which asylum seekers can “choose” to waive their right to an asylum procedure and be deported, rather than remain indefinitely in detention. Israeli authorities should release asylum seekers from detention except in exceptional circumstances and fairly examine their claims. It should never force or pressure them to return to a country where they face serious risk of persecution.