As Israel gears up for its second election in a year, Amnesty International has published a new briefing highlighting what it describes as “increasing threats” to the “freedom of expression” of Palestinian members of the Knesset.
“Elected but restricted: Shrinking space for Palestinian parliamentarians in Israel’s Knesset” was released two weeks before Israelis go to the polls on 17 September, and constitutes a stark summary of what Amnesty describes as a “shrinking space” for critics, and “entrenched” discrimination. Read more
The commendable decision by Amnesty International UK to cancel an event this week organised by the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) is an important development in the fight against Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The event, which was to focus on the ills of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), featured Hillel Neuer, the head of pro-Israel pressure group UN Watch. Acknowledging that the booking should never have been approved in the first place, Amnesty UK pulled the plug on the event after concerns were raised both externally and within the organisation. Read more
The Israeli Supreme Court has been accused of redefining torture so as to permit it after a major new ruling was greeted with dismay by local and international human rights groups.
Last week the court – sitting as the High Court of Justice – denied a petition brought by The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) on behalf of Palestinian prisoner Asad Abu Ghosh. Read more
In an unprecedented development, Amnesty International has pledged to consider whether the Israeli government is committing the crime of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
This marks the first time that the global rights NGO has said it will investigate Israeli practices specifically with regards to whether they meet the international definition of apartheid. Read more
It is one year since the beginning of a Palestinian youth-driven, anti-colonial revolt characterised by protests and attacks on Israeli forces and settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), along with brutal violence and punitive measures by Israeli authorities.
The timeline is not precise; by October 1, 2015, anti-occupation violence by Palestinians had been gradually on the rise, with ebbs and flows, for a few years. Some have dubbed it the ‘Jerusalem Intifada’. Others have described it as “less than an Intifada and more than a popular blow-up.” Read more
A senior Gaza-based employee of US-headquartered charity World Vision appeared in an Israeli court on Tuesday, charged with numerous counts of ‘supporting terrorism’.
According to the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet), Mohammad al-Halabi infiltrated the charity on behalf of Hamas, redirecting tens of millions of dollars to Al-Qassam Brigades over many years.
But to the consternation of Halabi’s lawyer, family, and colleagues, as well as diplomats and human rights workers, the trial – which reconvenes in October – is being conducted entirely in secret. Read more
The Israeli government and its supporters routinely play down the significance of West Bank settlements as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. One recent example of this came from a Jewish Agency spokesperson, who tweeted: “Jewish communities in the West Bank take up under 2% of the land; that is, over 98% of the West Bank contains no Jewish residents at all.”
So is this true – and exactly how much of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) do Israel’s settlements take up? Read more
On Sunday, an undercover unit of Israel’s Border Police conducted an arrest raid in Shuafat refugee camp, an area of Occupied East Jerusalem locked behind the Separation Wall.
Encountering resistance from local residents, the undercover forces requested assistance, and a large number of uniformed Israeli forces entered the camp. The police, in order to “extract the undercover unit and the detainee”, deployed “tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and stun grenades.”
Nafaz Damiri was shopping in Shuafat when the raid took place. As he stood taking shelter inside a supermarket, Israeli forces shot him in the face with a sponge bullet. The 55-year-old husband and father of one, who was born deaf and dumb, has now lost his right eye. Read more
In March, I debated the motion ‘This House Believes Israel is a Rogue State’ at the Cambridge Union. Opening proceedings, I suggested that the opposition might well “concede” that “Israel is not perfect”, intentionally missing the point about Israel’s rights violations being systematic.
Revealingly, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Vivian Wineman almost immediately did just that, telling the debating chamber: “We’re not arguing that Israel is perfect.”
Central to how Israel presents itself is the idea that while Israeli political leaders and military officials can and do make mistakes, there is a robust system of legal accountability that means such offenders are brought to book.
Last week has demonstrated how the reality is very different; that Israelis who commit atrocities against Palestinians benefit from a culture of impunity for civilian and soldier alike. Read more
Leading NGOs have heavily criticised attempts to link the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip with its demilitarisation, ahead of a debate about the issue in Westminster today.
Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) will this afternoon urge “disarmament for development”, as the Israel lobby group launches a new campaign focusing on the Gaza Strip and Hamas.
In their supporters’ briefing, LFI claims: “Reconstruction, lifting the ‘blockade’ of Gaza by Israel and Egypt and demilitarisation are intimately linked: the first two are dependent on the last.” Read more