Human rights in Israel
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Human rights in Israel refers to the human rights record of Israel as evaluated by intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and human rights activists, often in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the wider Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel internal politics.
Israel is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. It was described in its Declaration of Independence as a "Jewish state"—the definition "Jewish and democratic state" was adopted in 1985. In addition to its Jewish majority, Israel is home to religious and ethnic minorities, some of whom report discrimination. In the Palestinian territories, successive Israeli governments have been subject to international criticism from other countries as well as international human rights groups. One of the Basic Laws of Israel, intended to form the basis of a future constitution, Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, is a major tool for safeguarding human rights and civil liberties in the State of Israel.
- 1 History
- 2 Status of freedom, political rights and civil liberties in Israel
- 2.1 Rights and liberties ratings by NGOs
- 2.2 Elections, political parties, and representation
- 2.3 Freedom of religion
- 2.4 Marriage laws
- 2.5 Judiciary system and criminal justice
- 2.6 Capital punishment
- 2.7 Rights of prisoners
- 2.8 Freedom of speech and the media
- 3 Welfare
- 4 Right to privacy
- 5 Women's rights
- 6 LGBT rights
- 7 Ethnic minorities, anti-discrimination and immigration laws
- 8 Education
- 9 Migrant workers
- 10 People with disabilities
- 11 Human trafficking
- 12 Privatization and human rights
- 13 Human rights in the occupied territories
- 13.1 Persecution of alleged human rights activists
- 13.2 Settlements
- 13.3 Apartheid analogy
- 13.4 Israeli West Bank barrier
- 13.5 Military and security-related activity
- 13.6 2006 Lebanon war
- 13.7 2009 Gaza War
- 13.8 Economic development
- 14 Attitudes towards Israel by human rights organizations, the media, and academia
- 15 See also
- 16 External links
- 17 References
The Council of the League of Nations adopted a resolution on 4 September 1931 regarding the general conditions required before the mandate regime could be brought to an end. The new government was to provide an oral or written declaration acknowledging acceptance of an obligation to constitutionally guarantee the equal rights of ethnic and religious minorities. That resolution followed a longstanding precedent of international law in cases where the Great Powers had assisted in the restoration of sovereignty over a territory. The UN resolution on "The Future Government of Palestine" contained both a plan of partition and a Minority Protection Plan.  It placed minority, women's, and religious rights under the protection of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice. The plan provided specific guarantees of fundamental human rights. The new states were to supply a declaration, which according to precedent was tantamount to a treaty.  The resolution stated that "the stipulations contained in the declarations are recognized as fundamental laws of State, and no law, regulation or official action shall conflict or interfere with these stipulations, nor shall any law, regulation or official action prevail over them." The resolution also required that the Constitution of each State embody the rights contained in the Declaration.
During the hearings on Israel's application for membership in the United Nations, Abba Eban said that the rights stipulated in UN resolution 181(II) had been constitutionally embodied as the fundamental law of the state of Israel as required by the resolution. The instruments that he cited during the hearings were the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, and various cables and letters of confirmation addressed to the Secretary General. Eban's explanations and Israel's undertakings were noted in the text of General Assembly Resolution 273 (III) Admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations, 11 May 1949.
The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel proclaimed on 14 May 1948 that "the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country" ... "was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917, and re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and "Eretz-Israel [Land of Israel] and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home." It also declared that the state "...will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."
In 1950 Israel was admitted to the United Nations in accordance with General Assembly resolution 273 (III) of 11 May 1949, The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the Declaration of Independence is not a constitution and cannot be used to invalidate laws and regulations that contradict it.
Israeli Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, states that fundamental human rights in Israel shall be upheld in the spirit of the principles set forth in the Declaration, but it specifically exempted legislation that was already in force. Israeli legal scholars say that the wording of the law was adopted to avoid the difficulty of giving priority to equality, which was not expressly entrenched. The result is that the principle of equality can be reversed by ordinary legislation, and furthermore will not override statutory or judge-made laws.
The United Nations and its subsidiary organs say that Israel has a binding legal obligation that flows from resolution 181(II) and that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility in the matter.
Status of freedom, political rights and civil liberties in Israel
Israel is committed to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights international treaty in regard to freedom, political rights and civil liberties.
Rights and liberties ratings by NGOs
The 2013 Freedom in the World annual survey and report by U.S.-based Freedom House, which attempts to measure the degree of democracy and political freedom in every nation, ranked Israel along with Tunisia as the Middle East and North Africa’s only free countries.
|Country / Entity – NGO||Freedom House||The Economist Intelligence Unit||Transparency International|
|Report-Ranking||Freedom in the World||Democracy Index||Corruption Perceptions Index|
, , ,
|Overall score||Political corruption
|Israeli occupied territories||Not Free||6||6||N/A||N/A||N/A|
- (FH): Per Freedom House 2009 ratings. For indices PR and CL, 1 represents the most free and 7 the least free rating.
- (EIU): Per The Economist Intelligence Unit 2010 ratings. Full democracies have an overall score of 10 to 8, flawed democracies have an overall score of 7.9 to 6, hybrid regimes have an overall score of 5.9 to 4, and authoritarian regimes have an overall score from 3.9 to 1. The amount of democracy is higher as the score increases.
- (TICP): According to the annual Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, the score ranges from 10 (squeaky clean) to 0 (highly corrupt).
Elections, political parties, and representation
According to 2005 US Department of State report on Israel, “the law provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage...The country is a parliamentary democracy with an active multiparty system. Relatively small parties, including those primarily supported by Israeli Arabs, regularly win Knesset seats.”
Freedom of religion
Although Israel describes itself as a Jewish state, all religious groups have freedom to practice and maintain communal institutions in Israel. According to the 2009 US Department of State report on Israel and the occupied territories, "The Israeli Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty provides for freedom of worship and the Government generally respected this right in practice." The report added that in 2009 the "Government policy continued to support the generally free practice of religion, although governmental and legal discrimination against non-Jews and non-Orthodox streams of Judaism continued." and noted that "Many Jewish citizens objected to exclusive Orthodox control over fundamental aspects of their personal lives." The report stated that approximately 310,000 citizens who immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return are not considered Jewish by the Orthodox Rabbinate and therefore cannot be married, divorced, or buried in Jewish cemeteries within the country.
After gaining control of the West Bank in 1967, Israel guaranteed Muslim access to mosques including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Christian access to churches. Israel has extended protection to religious sites of non-Jewish religions; most famously the IDF foiled a Kach party attempt to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and continue to protect this site from attacks by non-Muslims. At times, the observances of holy days by various religions has the potential to cause conflict; thus Israeli police take measures to avoid friction between communities by issuing temporary restrictions on movement and audible worship. The 1967 Protection of Holy Sites Law protects all holy sites, but the government has implemented regulations only for 137 Jewish sites, leaving many Muslim and Christian sites neglected, inaccessible, or threatened by property development.
The city of Jerusalem has given financial support to Muslim religious activities as well has giving them facilities for their use. Israel does not give funding to some religious communities including Protestants.
According to a 2009 report from the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Israel falls short of being a tolerant or pluralistic society. According to the report, Israel discriminates against Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Reform Jews, Christians, women and Bedouins. Israel only recognises and protects Jewish holy sites, ignoring and neglecting all Christian and Muslim sites. All 137 official holy sites are Jewish.
The Pew Research Center has published studies of social hostilities by country. The Social Hostilities Index (SHI) measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations and social groups. This includes mob or sectarian violence, harassment over attire for religious reasons and other religion-related intimidation or abuse. The Social Hostilities Index (SHI) measures acts of religious hostility by individuals, organizations and social groups. "This includes mob or sectarian violence, harassment over attire for religious reasons and other religion-related intimidation or abuse." In 2007 Israel was one of 10 countries with a score over 7.1 on a scale of 10, and in 2010 Israel and the Palestinian territories were two of the 15 areas with the highest SHI scores.
A couple wishing to marry can do so through a religious ceremony, it Jewish, Muslim, Christian or other. Non-religious couples, since 2014, can have a kind of Civil marriage in Israel, and get through New Family Organization a Relationships Card that changed their status to a couple, and entitles them with all of the rights that come from it, by the state. Common-law marriage gives couples the same rights as married couples enjoy. Israeli citizens may also travel abroad for a civil marriage, which is then binding under Israeli law.
During the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2003, the Knesset made a temporary amendment to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law which prohibited Palestinians married to Israelis from gaining Israeli citizenship or residency. Critics argue that the law is racist because it is targeted at Israeli Arabs who are far more likely to have Palestinian spouses than other Israelis; defenders say the law is aimed at preventing terrorist attacks and preserving the Jewish character of Israel. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination unanimously approved a resolution saying that the Israeli law violated an international human rights treaties against racism. The Israeli Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yaakov Levy, said the resolution was "highly politicized", citing the committee's failure to grant Israel's request to present evidence of the, "legislation's compliance with existing international law and practice', examples of "numerous concrete instances [in which the] granting of a legal status to Palestinian spouses of Israeli residents [was] abused by Palestinian residents of the territories for suicide terrorism", and also ignoring the fact that at the time of the UN resolution the matter was under review by the Israeli High Court of Justice.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed a petition to have the law struck down but it was upheld by a High Court decision in 2006. In formulating the law, the government cited, "information presented by the security forces, which said that the terrorist organizations try to enlist Palestinians who have already received or will receive Israeli documentation and that the security services have a hard time distinguishing between Palestinians who might help the terrorists and those who will not" In the Israeli Supreme Court decision on this matter, Deputy Chief Justice Mishael Cheshin argued that, "Israeli citizens [do not] enjoy a constitutional right to bring a foreign national into Israel... and it is the right – moreover, it is the duty – of the state, of any state, to protect its residents from those wishing to harm them. And it derives from this that the state is entitled to prevent the immigration of enemy nationals into it – even if they are spouses of Israeli citizens – while it is waging an armed conflict with that same enemy".
In 2009, the US State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor criticized the lack of civil marriage and divorce in Israel for immigrants who are not considered Jewish under rabbinical law.
Judiciary system and criminal justice
Israeli law provides for the right to a fair trial and an independent judiciary. The 2005 US Department of State report on Israel notes that the courts sometimes ruled against the executive branch, including in some security cases. Human Rights Groups believe these requirements are generally respected. As well the system is adversarial and cases are decided by professional judges. Indigent defendants receive mandatory representation. Some areas of the country fall under the separate judicial jurisdiction of military courts. These courts are believed to be in alignment with Israel's other criminal courts on matters pertaining to civilians. Convictions in these courts cannot be based on confession alone.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan said in 1987 that despite the difficulties in safeguarding civil liberties during times of security crises, he said 'it may well be Israel, not the United States, that provides the best hope for building a jurisprudence that can protect civil liberties against the demands of national security.'
Israeli law currently allow for the death penalty for serious crimes committed during wartime, but it has been abolished during peacetime. Current crimes during wartime include genocide, crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The only person to have ever been executed after conviction in an Israeli civilian court was the Nazi war-criminal Adolf Eichmann.
Rights of prisoners
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Regarding the conditions of imprisonment of prisoners, also security prisoners, Israel is committed to two international treaties:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - Adopted at 1966, took effect at 1976 and was ratified at 1992.
- Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - Took effect at 1987 and was ratified at 1991.
In 1978, two cable messages, Jerusalem 1500 and Jerusalem 3239, sent from the United States Consulate General in Jerusalem to the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C., described abusive methods allegedly used by Israeli authorities to interrogate Palestinian detainees in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Alexandra U. Johnson, the consular officer who wrote the cables, was terminated from the United States Foreign Service later that year; and the cables became the focus of controversy when their contents became public in 1979. A third report, Jerusalem A-19, sent as an airgram message from the Consulate General in Jerusalem to the Department of State in October 1978, described the military trial of two young American citizens who reported that Israeli authorities used physical coercion to obtain confessions from them. The report concluded that Israeli authorities were aware that "physical coercion and mistreatment" probably had been used to obtain the confessions.
The 1987 Landau Commission, headed by then-Supreme Court Justice Moshe Landau, was appointed to examine the interrogation methods of the General Security Service and said that "the exertion of a moderate degree of physical pressure cannot be avoided". Nevertheless, the commission condemned a 1982 internal memo that instructed interrogators on the kind of lies they should tell in court when denying they'd used physical force to obtain confessions. It condemned the perjury involved but advised against prosecution of those who'd carried it out. The second part of the Landau report remains secret, it is believed to contain guidelines for permissible interrogation methods.
The Landau Commission resulted in hundreds of petitions of detained Palestinians complaining that force had been used against them during GSS interrogations. In isolated cases, interim orders were issued temporarily prohibiting the GSS from using all or some of the methods, but in September 1999 the High Court refused to rule whether they are legal under Israeli and international law.
In 1991, Israel ratified the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, a measure which states (Article 7) "no one shall be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". Critics say Israel is also in breach of section 2(2) of the Convention against torture which stipulates that, "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."
In 1994 a State Comptroller’s Report (partly released in summary form in February 2000) found that GSS interrogation methods contravened the law, the Landau Commission guidelines and the internal guidelines formulated by the service itself.
In July 2002, Ha’aretz quoted a senior GSS official saying that, since the High Court’s decision, ninety Palestinians had been defined as "ticking bombs" and "extraordinary interrogation methods," i.e. torture, was used against them". Other Israeli interrogators have admitted that the GSS "uses every manipulation possible, up to shaking and beating." Dozens of affidavits from Palestinians also confirm that torture is still part of Israeli interrogations.
Torture is reported by B'Tselem as having been carried out against individuals not suspected of crime, including religious sages, sheiks and religious leaders, persons active in charitable organizations and Islamic students. Others to be tortured include brothers and other relatives of persons listed as "wanted" and any Palestinians in engineering profession. In some cases, wives of the detained have been arrested and mistreated to further pressure their husbands. GSS agents have sometimes tortured Palestinians in order to recruit them as collaborators.
B'Tselem estimates that the GSS annually interrogates between 1,000 and 1,500 Palestinians and uses methods constituting torture against some 85 percent of them, at least 850 persons a year.
According to a 2011 report by two Israeli human rights organisations, the Public Committee Against Torture (PCAT) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), Israeli doctors fail to report suspected torture and conceal related information, allowing Israeli Security Agency interrogators to use torture against Palestinian detainees.
Prisoners allowed to take online courses from the Open University of Israel, and to complete academic degrees. The possibility of doing an Academic degree in prison is not a vested right but a benefit, and contingent on good behavior. The program for education in jail for the prisoners is free, with prison authorities paying their university tuition. The Courses are in the fields of: Humanities, Sociology, Economics, Management, Psychology and Political-Science. The idea is to give the prisoners the tools to deal with life outside, so that when they would be released from prison they will have the appropriate education that would help them find jobs. And that would prevent them from returning to a life of crime.
In 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Israel held thousands of Palestinians as political prisoners, and called on Israel to release them. Ban said the release of political prisoners would "serve as a significant confidence-building measure" and boost prospects of peace in the region. Also Amnesty International has called on Israel to release political prisoners, saying "all political prisoners held without charge or trial should be tried in fair trials or immediately released".
John Dugard has compared Israeli imprisonment of Palestinians to policies of Apartheid-era South Africa, saying "Apartheid's security police practiced torture on a large scale. So do the Israeli security forces. There were many political prisoners on Robben Island but there are more Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails."
Administrative detention is a procedure under which prisoners are held without charge or trial. The sentences are authorized by an administrative order from the Israeli Ministry of Defence or Israeli military commanders. Amnesty International believes that the practice breaches Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which "makes clear that no-one should be subjected to arbitrary detention and that deprivation of liberty must be based on grounds and procedures established by law". Amnesty International is also concerned that prisoners of conscience are being "held solely for the non-violent exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association". According to B'Tselem there are currently 645 Palestinians being held under administrative detention by the Israel Prisons Service and 105 by the IDF. Most are kept in the West Bank in Ofer Military Camp or in the Ansar 3/Ketziot Military Camp in the Negev desert.
Education programs in prison for Security Imprisonments
In 2009, there were 250 Palestinian prisoners studying at Israel's Open University. In June 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced, in response to a halt in the peace talks, that Palestinian prisoners would no longer be granted the right to pursue academic degrees in prison. In late 2012, three prisoners appealed the decision the Israeli Supreme Court, which rejected their appeal. In their ruling, the judges stated that the right to free university education does not apply to those convicted of terror offenses. The ruling did, however, call on prison authorities to be "considerate" in deciding the cases of prisoners already in the midst of academic programs.
Freedom of speech and the media
According to the 2005 US Department of State report on Israel, "[t]he law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice subject to restrictions concerning security issues. The law provides for freedom of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights in practice.
Some government officials and others have been critical of the freedom of speech rights afforded to Israeli settlers during their forced evacuation from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This led to the criticism that “the authorities took disproportional steps, unjustifiably infringing on the right to political expression and protest.”
Within Israel, policies of its government are subjected to criticism by its press as well as a variety of political, human rights and watchdog groups such as Association for Civil Rights in Israel, B'Tselem, Machsom Watch, Women in Black, Women for Israel's Tomorrow, among others. According to the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders, "The Israeli media were once again in 2005 the only ones in the region that had genuine freedom to speak out." However, in 2010 human rights groups operating in Israel complained of a hostile environment in the country, and said they were coming under attack for criticising Israeli policies. The groups say that some Israeli leaders see human rights criticism as a threat to Israel's legitimacy, especially following war crimes allegations against the Israeli military over the Gaza War in 2008-9.
In 2009, Israel ranked 93rd in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, down from the previous year. In 2013 Israel slipped to 112 out of 179 countries in the press Freedom Index. Reporters without borders explained the change was due to Israeli actions in Operation Pillar of Defense during which it said "Israel Defense Forces intentionally attacked journalists and buildings where media connected to Hamas had premises". The organization also criticized arrests of Palestinian journalists and military censorship. Freedom House ranked Israel as having a "Partly Free" media climate in 2009. Previously Israel have been the only country in the region with a "Free" media.)
In 2003, Israel's film board banned the commercial screening of a film about the 2002 Battle of Jenin. The film, titled "Jenin, Jenin", was a collection of interviews with residents of the Jenin refugee camp filmed in April 2002, a week after the battle. Mohammad Bakri, an Israeli Arab, directed the film. The film was banned due to its allegations of war crimes committed by Israeli forces, which the board deemed false and hurtful to the soldiers' families. Following legal proceedings, a petition was filed to the Supreme Court of Israel, which unanimously overturned the board's decision, and allowed the movie to be shown in cinemas "for the public to decide", while noting that the movie was "full of lies", was not a documentary, and was made "without good faith", falsely portraying the Israeli soldiers as "the worst of war crime perpetrators".
In January 2011, the Israeli parliament endorsed a right-wing proposal to investigate some of Israel's best-known human rights organisations for "delegitimising" its military. The investigations would entail inquiries into the funding of several human rights groups that have criticised Israeli policies. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel described the decision as a "severe blow" to Israeli democracy, and critics labeled the policy as "McCarthyist".
In 2015 the Israeli Supreme Court upheld major provisions of a law imposing consequences on those who call for boycotting Israel and occupied territories. The ruling sparked debate, with some protesting it ends freedom of speech and while others say it affirms Israel's stand on "the destructive nature of the BDS." Israeli human rights groups had petitioned against the law, saying it infringes on freedom of speech. Supporters of the law say it prohibits "discrimination based on geography."“To exclude calls for a boycott from the category of free speech is incorrect,” said Rabbi David Rosenn, NIF’s executive vice president. “There is not a separate category for speech that is political. The most important speech is political, and people should have the ability to express their opinions without fear of government sanctions.”
- Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index
Reporters Without Borders publishes an annual report on worldwide press freedom, called the Press Freedom Index. The first such publication began in 2002. The results for Israel and the Palestinian Authority from 2002 to the present are shown below, with lower numbers indicating better treatment of reporters:
|Year||Israel (Israeli territory)||Israel (extraterritorial)||Palestinian Authority||Year's Worst Score||Report URL|
Obesity rates in Israel are below the average for OECD nations, with an obesity rate of 14% for adults in 2009.
Several studies showed that there is no food blockade on Gaza or in the Palestinian authority areas. In fact in 2007 the obesity rate among Palestinians in the West-Bank and Gaza was the 3rd (42%) highest in the world for women and 8th (23%) highest for men. As for 2014 the obesity rate in Gaza stands on 60%.
Right to privacy
According to a 2005 US Department of State report on Israel, “[l]aws and regulations provide for protection of privacy of the individual and the home. In criminal cases the law permits wiretapping under court order; in security cases the defense ministry must issue the order…”
Israel is committed to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women international treaty in Regard to Women's rights.
Women in Israel have been guaranteed gender equality since the establishment of the state in 1948. This has enabled women to actively participate in Israeli life. The Israeli Declaration of Independence states: “The State of Israel (…) will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”
Israel was the third country in the world to be led by a female prime minister, Golda Meir, and in 2010, women's parliamentary representation in Israel was 18 percent, which is above the Arab world's average of 6 percent and equals that of the U.S. Congress. Still, it trails far behind the Scandinavian countries' 40 percent average
The Israeli parliament, The Knesset, has established “The Committee on the Status of Women,” to address women’s rights. The stated objectives of this committee are to prevent discrimination, combat violence against women, and promote equality in politics, lifecycle events and education. In 1998, the Knesset passed a law for "Prevention of Sexual Harassment".
With that said, the laws of the Status quo left the matters of Marriage and managing the holy places (Every place by the latest who managed it) to the religious institutions. A 2009 report of the U.S. State Department mentions the problem of civil marriage, agunot and mixed gender prayer services at the Western Wall.
Seven leading organizations in Israel that have partnered to promote women's rights. The "Bringing Women to the Fore: The Feminist Partnership" and is coordinated through the Jewish Women’s Collaborative International Fund. Its partnering organizations include Adva Center, Women's Spirit, Itach-Maaki: Women Lawyers for Social Justice, Mahut Center, The Israel Women's Network (IWN), Economic Empowerment for Women (EEW), and Achoti (Sister) for Women in Israel.
Arab women in Israel
Arab-Israeli women actively participate in government and public life. Hussniya Jabara was the first Israeli-Arab woman to serve in the Knesset. According to section 15 of the States Civil Service [appointments], Women and Arabs Israeli citizens are entitled to Affirmative Action in the civil service employment.
Rights for sexual minorities in Israel are considered to be the most tolerant in the Middle East. While Israel has not legalized same-sex marriage, same-sex marriages valid in foreign countries are legally recognized in Israel. Israel guarantees civil rights for its homosexual population, including adoption rights and partner benefits. Israel also grants a common-law marriage status for same-sex domestic partners. The sodomy law inherited from the British Mandate of Palestine was repealed in 1988, though there was an explicit instruction issued in 1953 by the Attorney General of Israel ordering the police to refrain from enforcing this law, as long as no other offenses were involved. A national gay rights law bans some anti-gay discrimination, including in employment; some exemptions are made for religious organizations. In the past, military service of homosexuals was subject to certain restrictions. These restrictions were lifted in 1993, allowing homosexuals to serve openly in all units of the army.
Ethnic minorities, anti-discrimination and immigration laws
Israel is committed to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination international treaty in Regard to Social and Cultural Rights for minorities.
Ethnic and religious minorities have full voting rights in Israel and are entitled to government benefits under various laws. Israeli Employment (Equal Opportunities) Law, 1988 prohibits discrimination in hiring, working conditions, promotion, professional training or studies, discharge or severance pay and benefits and payments provided for employees in connection with their retirement from employment, because of race, religion, nationality and land of origin, among other reasons.
According to section 15 of the States Civil Service [appointments], Israeli citizens who are female, disabled or of Arab or black African origin are entitled to affirmative action in the civil service. Israeli citizens of Arab or black African origin, or with disabilities, are furthermore entitled to affirmative action with regard to university and college admission, and are entitled for full tuition scholarships by the state.
Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services and Entry into Places of Entertainment and Public Places Law, forbid those who operate public places or provide services or products to discriminate because of race, religion, nationality, and land of origin, among other reasons. According to the 2010 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the Occupied Territories, Israeli law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, and the government effectively enforced these prohibitions.
Arab citizens of Israel
The 2005 US Department of State report on Israel wrote: "[T]he government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas, including... institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country’s Arab citizens."
In a report submitted to the United Nations, Bedouin claim they face discrimination and are not treated as equal citizens in Israel and that Bedouin towns are not provided the same level of services or land that Jewish towns of the same size are and they are not given fair access to water. The city of Be'er Sheva refused to recognize a Bedouin holy site, despite a High Court recommendation.
According to the 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the Occupied Territories, the Israeli government had done "little to reduce institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country's Arab citizens." Reports of subsequent years also identified discrimination against Arab citizens as a problem area for Israel, but did not repeat the assertion that Israel had done little to reduce discrimination.
The 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices notes that:
- "Approximately 93 percent of land in the country was public domain, including that owned by the state and some 12.5 percent owned by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). All public land by law may only be leased, not sold. The JNF's statutes prohibit the sale or lease of land to non-Jews. In October, civil rights groups petitioned the High Court of Justice claiming that a bid announcement by the Israel Land Administration (ILA) involving JNF land was discriminatory in that it banned Arabs from bidding." The 2010 report noted that According to a 2005 attorney general ruling, the government cannot discriminate against Arab citizens in marketing and allocating lands it manages, including those of the JNF.
- "Israeli-Arab advocacy organizations have challenged the Government's policy of demolishing illegal buildings in the Arab sector, and claimed that the Government was more restrictive in issuing building permits in Arab communities than in Jewish communities, thereby not accommodating natural growth."
- "In June, the Supreme Court ruled that omitting Arab towns from specific government social and economic plans is discriminatory. This judgment builds on previous assessments of disadvantages suffered by Arab Israelis."
- "Israeli-Arab organizations have challenged as discriminatory the 1996 "Master Plan for the Northern Areas of Israel," which listed as priority goals increasing the Galilee's Jewish population and blocking the territorial contiguity of Arab towns."
- "Israeli Arabs were not required to perform mandatory military service and, in practice, only a small percentage of Israeli Arabs served in the military. Those who did not serve in the army had less access than other citizens to social and economic benefits for which military service was a prerequisite or an advantage, such as housing, new-household subsidies, and employment, especially government or security-related industrial employment. The Ivri Committee on National Service has issued official recommendations to the Government that Israel Arabs not be compelled to perform national or "civic" service, but be afforded an opportunity to perform such service".
- "According to a 2003 Haifa University study, a tendency existed to impose heavier prison terms to Arab citizens than to Jewish citizens. Human rights advocates claimed that Arab citizens were more likely to be convicted of murder and to have been denied bail."
- "The Orr Commission of Inquiry's report [...] stated that the 'Government handling of the Arab sector has been primarily neglectful and discriminatory,' that the Government 'did not show sufficient sensitivity to the needs of the Arab population, and did not take enough action to allocate state resources in an equal manner.' As a result, 'serious distress prevailed in the Arab sector in various areas. Evidence of distress included poverty, unemployment, a shortage of land, serious problems in the education system, and substantially defective infrastructure.'"
The 2007 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices notes that:
- "According to a 2005 study at Hebrew University, three times more money was invested in education of Jewish children as in Arab children."
Human Rights Watch has charged that cuts in veteran benefits and child allowances based on parents' military service discriminate against Arab children: "The cuts will also affect the children of Jewish ultra-orthodox parents who do not serve in the military, but they are eligible for extra subsidies, including educational supplements, not available to Palestinian Arab children."
Human rights group B'Tselem has claimed that Arabs in Jerusalem are denied residency rights, leading to a housing shortage in the Arab areas of Jerusalem. In September 2010 Israeli government endorsed an amendment to the country's citizenship laws. The draft law obliges that any person applying for an Israeli citizenship to pledge an oath of allegiance to "Israel as a Jewish and democratic state". The amendment has been strongly criticized by Israeli Arabs as well as by Israeli left-wing movements including Kadima opposition party chief Tzipi Livni. Israeli educational psychologist Prof. Gavriel Solomon said that the loyalty oath resembles Nuremberg Laws. Supporters of the amendment state that non-Jews who become citizens need to fully appreciate that the "State of Israel is the national expression of the self-determination of the Jewish people."
According to section 15 of the States Civil Service [appointments], Arab Israeli citizens entitled to Affirmative Action in the civil service employment. Also Arab Israeli citizens are entitled for Affirmative Aactions in the Universities and colleges Admission requirements, and are entitled for full tuition scholarships by the state.
Illegal immigrants and asylum seekers
Israel is a state party to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Israeli human rights organizations consider the Israeli asylum system to be extremely flawed and unfair, and the recognition rate of refugees is considerably lower than 1%. Since 2003, an estimated 70,000 illegal immigrants from various African countries have crossed into Israel. Some 600 refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan have been granted temporary resident status to be renewed every year, though not official refugee state. Another 2,000 refugees from the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia have been granted temporary resident status on humanitarian grounds, though Israel prefers not to recognize them as refugees.
In a 2012 news story, Reuters reported, "Israel may jail illegal immigrants for up to three years under a law put into effect on Sunday, an Interior Ministry official said, a measure aimed at stemming the flow of Africans entering Israel across the porous desert border with Egypt." Interior Minister Eli Yishai said, "Why should we provide them with jobs? I'm sick of the bleeding hearts, including politicians. Jobs would settle them here, they'll make babies, and that offer will only result in hundreds of thousands more coming over here." Liel Leibovitz in Tablet Magazine writes: "If Israel honored the 1951 Refugee Convention it itself signed, it would not deny asylum to the 19,000 African refugees, mostly from Sudan and Congo, fleeing genocide and persecution, making the Jewish state the least inclined country in the Western world to aid those fleeing genocide."
African citizens of Israel
According to BBC, Ethiopian Jews living in Israel have long complained of discrimination. They hold rallies after the agreement by landlords in southern Israel on not to rent or sell their real estate to Jews of Ethiopian origin. In three years, they took part in a rally after a video emerged showing two policemen beating an Ethiopian Israeli soldier.
Israeli Pupils’ Rights Law of 2000, prohibit discrimination of students for sectarian reasons in admission to or expulsion from an educational institution, in establishment of separate educational curricula or holding of separate classes in the same educational institution, and rights and obligations of pupils. This law has been enforced by the Supreme Court of Israel, prompting protests from Orthodox families who objected to sending their children to integrated schools.
An August 2009 study published in Megamot by Sorel Cahan of Hebrew University's School of Education demonstrated that the Israeli Education Ministry's budget for special assistance to students from low socioeconomic backgrounds severely discriminated against Arabs. It also showed that the average per-student allocation at Arab junior high schools was one-fifth the average at Jewish ones. This was the result of the allocation method used – assistance funds were first divided between Arab and Jewish school systems, according to the number of students in each, and then allocated to needy students; however, due to the largest proportion of such students in the Arab system, they received less funds, per student, than Jewish students. The Ministry of Education said that it had already decided to discontinue this allotment method in favor of a uniform index method, without first dividing the funds between the school systems.
Ministry data on what percentage of high school students pass their matriculation exams, broken down by town, showed that most Arab towns were once again the lowest ranked – an exception was Arab Fureidis which had the third highest pass rate (75.86 percent) in Israel.
Israeli citizens who are Arabs, Blacks or people with disabilities are entitled for Affirmative Actions in the Universities and colleges Admission requirements, and are entitled for full tuition scholarships by the state.
Education for prisoners
Prisoners allowed to take online courses from the Open University of Israel, and to complete academic degrees. The program for education in jail is free for the prisoners, with prison authorities paying their university tuition.
In 2010, the United States Department of State issued a report which stated that "the Government of Israel does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking however it is making significant efforts to do so." It noted that Israel continued law enforcement actions against human trafficking, and established a shelter for labor traffic victims. However, the government did not identify the victims, and law enforcement and protection efforts diminished since transferring anti-trafficking duties from Immigration police to the Ministry of Interior.
People with disabilities
Israel is committed to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities international treaty in Regard to People with disabilities rights.
Israel enacted an Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law in 1998. Nevertheless, the US Department of State report on Israel stated that “de facto discrimination against persons with disabilities” exists in Israel. In 2014 there were approximately 1.6 million people with disabilities residing in Israel. Approximately 878,000 were between the ages of 20 to 64 and 488,000 were over the age of 64. A survey by the Dialog Institute showed that a significant portion of the Israeli population has difficulty accepting people with disabilities as neighbors, co-workers or classmates. 40% of those surveyed said they would “be bothered” if their children were in school with a disabled child, and almost a third of respondents said they would “be bothered” living in the same neighborhood as disabled people.
In Israel more than 144,000 people with disabilities rely solely on government allowances as their only means of support. According to Arie Zudkevitch and fellow members of the Israeli Organization of the Disabled: "The amount of money that we get cannot fulfill even the basic needs of people without special needs." In Tel Aviv, more than 10,000 people marched in solidarity with the disabled, demanding increased compensation and recognition from the Israeli Government.
A 2005 report from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel stated that private psychiatric hospitals were holding 70 individuals who no longer needed hospitalization, but continue to be hospitalized to serve the institutions` financial interests. The most recent statistics of the Israeli Health Ministry showed over 18,000 admissions for psychiatric hospital care.
According to section 15 of the States Civil Service [appointments], Israeli citizens with disabilities are entitled to Affirmative Action in the civil service employment. Also Israeli citizens who are with disabilities are entitled for Affirmative Aactions in the Universities and colleges Admission requirements, and are entitled for full tuition scholarships by the state.
Israel has been criticized in the 1990s for its policies and its weak enforcement of laws on human trafficking. Women from the former Soviet Republics were brought into the country by criminal elements for forced labor in the sex industry. In 1998 the Jerusalem Post estimated that pimps engaging in this activity derived on average $50,000 – $100,000 (USD) per prostitute, resulting in a countrywide industry of nearly $450,000,000 annually. By July 2000, Israel passed the Prohibition on Trafficking Law. In its 2003 report, the Human Rights Committee noted it "welcomes the measures taken by the State party to combat trafficking in women for the purpose of prostitution” . The 2005 US Department of State report on Israel mentioned "societal violence and discrimination against women and trafficking in and abuse of women."
In October 2006, the Knesset passed a new law outlawing human trade with sentences for human trade offenses of up to 16 years, and 20 years when the victim is a minor. The law also addresses forced labor, slavery, organ theft, and prostitution. The bill also requires compensation of victims of human trade and slavery. Trials will be able to be held behind closed doors to protect the identity of victims. By November, prostitution activity in Israel has become less apparent. Police raided the places that offered sex services, and detained criminals related to prostitution and sex trafficking. However, campaigners say that police action has shifted the industry to private apartments and escort agencies, making the practice more difficult to detect.
Privatization and human rights
The 2005 annual report of ACRI found that "accelerated privatization" is damaging human rights. According to the report, "State economic policy, including cutting stipends, reducing housing assistance, and constantly declining state participation in health-care and education costs, are forcing more elderly, children and whole families into poverty and despair. The increasing damage to citizens' rights to earn a dignified living – both due to low wages and the lack of enforcement of labor laws – is particularly prominent."
Human rights in the occupied territories
Since 1967, Israel has controlled territories captured from Egypt, Jordan and Syria during the Six-Day War. Residents of the Golan Heights are entitled to citizenship, voting rights and residency that allows them to travel within Israel's borders. Israel no longer exercises military control in the Gaza Strip, but has subjected it to various measures such as blockades and other measures it deems necessary to Israeli security. The government of Israel has declared that it observes the international humanitarian laws contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied territories. Israel denies that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which it has signed, are applicable to the occupied Palestinian territory.
During the Second Intifada, the UN Commission on Human Rights reported "widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights perpetrated by the Israeli occupying power, in particular mass killings and collective punishments, such as demolition of houses and closure of the Palestinian territories, measures which constitute war crimes, flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity."
Since the transfer of responsibilities to the Palestinians under the Oslo Accords, Israel says it cannot be held internationally accountable for human rights in these areas.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) stated that human rights covenants are applicable  and that Israel had breached its obligations under international law by establishing settlements in the occupied territories. According to the ICJ, Israel cannot rely on the right of self-defense or on a state of necessity, and is guilty of violating basic human rights by impeding liberty of movement and the right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living.
Persecution of alleged human rights activists
Abdallah Abu Rahmah was arrested by the Israeli army in 2009 for participating in demonstrations which take place weekly in the West Bank. On 25 August 2010, the Israeli military court found Abu Rahmah guilty of two anti-free speech articles in military legislation: "incitement, and organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations." European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton condemned the verdict, stating, "The EU considers Abdallah Abu Rahmah to be a human rights defender committed to non-violent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier through his West Bank village of Bil'in."
Article 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination says "States Parties particularly condemn racial segregation and apartheid and undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories under their jurisdiction." A review of Israel's country report by the experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination took issue with the establishment of Jewish-only settlements and stated "The status of the settlements was clearly inconsistent with Article 3 of the Convention which, as noted in the Committee's General Recommendation XIX, prohibited all forms of racial segregation in all countries. There was a consensus among publicists that the prohibition of racial discrimination, irrespective of territories, was an imperative norm of international law.
On 7 April 2005 the United Nations Committee on Human Rights stated it was "deeply concerned at the suffering of the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan due to the violation of their fundamental and human rights since the Israeli military occupation of 1967...[and] in this connection, deploring the Israeli settlement in the occupied Arab territories, including in the occupied Syrian Golan, and regretting Israel's constant refusal to cooperate with and to receive the Special Committee"
Israeli treatment of non-Israelis in territories occupied by Israel for the past forty years, has been compared to South Africa's treatment of non-whites during the apartheid era by various instances and persons such as the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Jimmy Carter, archbishop Desmond Tutu and Michael Ben-Yair, attorney-general of Israel. In 2009, South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council released a 300-page study that concluded that Israel practiced colonialism and apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The term apartheid in the context of the West Bank is used in relation to certain Israeli policies in force in the area. These include segregated roads and settlements as well as restrictions placed on movements of Palestinians but not Israelis, in the form of checkpoints and segmentation of the West Bank. The comparison also extends to access to natural resources such as water as well as access to the judicial system.
Those who criticize the analogy argue that Israeli policies have little or no comparison to apartheid South Africa, and that the motivation and historical context of Israel's policies are different. It is argued that Israel itself is a democratic and pluralist state, while the West Bank and Gaza are not part of sovereign Israel and cannot be compared to the internal policies of apartheid South Africa. According to Gerald Steinberg, the attempt to label Israel an apartheid state is "the embodiment of the new antisemitism that seeks to deny the Jewish people the right of equality and self-determination.". Others say that it is "a foolish and unfair comparison", that Arab citizens of Israel have the same rights as other Israeli citizens and that "full social and political equality of all [Israel's] citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex" is specifically guaranteed by Israeli law. Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh says, "Fortunately, Arab citizens can go to the same beaches, restaurants and shopping malls as Jews in this 'apartheid' state. Moreover, they can run in any election and even have a minister in the government (Ghaleb Majadlah) for the first time". Others state that the comparison to apartheid is defamatory and inflammatory, and reflects a double standard when applied to Israel since it does not comment on the human and civil rights in neighboring Arab countries or within the Palestinian territories.
Israeli West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a physical barrier, consisting mainly of fences and trenches, built by the Israeli Government which has been the center of much controversy. It is located partly within the West Bank, partly along the border between the West Bank and Israel proper. The barrier's stated purpose is "to keep the terrorists out and thereby save the lives of Israel's citizens, Jews and Arabs alike."
In 2003, the barrier was condemned by a UN Resolution "overwhelmingly" passed by UN General Assembly which also called for all construction to halt. The building of the barrier inside the west bank was also condemned by the International Court of Justice which stated: "Israel also has an obligation to put an end to the violation of its international obligations flowing from the construction of the wall in Occupied Palestinian Territories...reparation must, as far as possible, wipe out all the consequences of the illegal act.." During 2003, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled, concerning a stretch of the barrier to the north-west of Jerusalem: "The route [of the West Bank Barrier] disrupts the delicate balance between the obligation of the military commander to preserve security and his obligation to provide for the needs of the local inhabitants."
Echoing this sentiment, Amnesty International issued in a statement in 2005 saying: "Israel built a fence/wall through the West Bank, confining Palestinians in isolated enclaves cut off from their land and essential services in nearby towns and villages."
A UN report released in August 2005 observed that the existence of the barrier "replaced the need for closures: movement within the northern West Bank, for example, is less restrictive where the Barrier has been constructed. Physical obstacles have also been removed in Ramallah and Jerusalem governorates where the Barrier is under construction." The report notes that more freedom of movement in rural areas may ease Palestinian access to hospitals and schools, but also notes that restrictions on movement between urban population centers have not significantly changed.
In 2004, Amnesty International accused the IDF of war crimes, including "unlawful killing," "extension and wanton of destruction of property; obstruction of medical assistance and targeting of medical personnel; torture, and the use of Palestinians as 'human shields' They accuse the Israeli army of "reckless" shooting and "excessive use of force" against militants that endanger the lives civilians. They claim Israeli soldiers are rarely punished for human rights violations, and investigations of crimes are not carried out.  In 2014 Amnesty released a report with similar findings, criticizing Israel for excessive and reckless use of force for which Israeli soldiers are not held accountable. Amnesty said characteristics of the violence suggested it was employed as a matter of policy, and that there was evidence some killings amounted to war crimes.
According to Gal Luft, Palestinian militants utilize a tactic of blending among civilian populations which exacerbates civilian casualties in Israeli attacks. He also says that the absence of independent "Western media" in the Palestinian territories prevents accurate and reliable reporting on conflicts. According to Luft, biased media coverage of Operation Defensive Shield encouraged militants to use civilians and refugees as "human shields" because they were not held accountable for their actions. The Israeli military claims it does not target civilians and that critics do not take into account the "realities" of war faced by the IDF.
According to 2010 US State Department Human Rights Report, in 2010, the Military Investigative Police launched 147 investigations with regard to cases of death, violence, and property damage against residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In these cases the military advocate general filed 10 indictments against 12 soldiers suspected of committing criminal offenses against Palestinians. There were three convictions of four soldiers, no acquittals, closure of three cases by the military advocate general, and seven cases pending as of year's end.
Accusations of using Human Shields
In 2013 a report by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded that Israeli forces had used Palestinian children as human shields in 14 cases between 2010 and 2013. According to the report, almost everyone who had used children as human shields had remained unpunished.
The IDF acknowledged using the "Neighbor Procedure” or the “Early Warning Procedure”, in which the IDF would encourage a Palestinian acquaintance of a wanted man to try and convince them to surrender. This practice was criticized by some as using human shields, an allegation the IDF denied, saying that it never forced people into carrying out the "Neighbor Procedure"; and that Palestinians volunteered to prevent excess loss of life. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among the groups who made the human shield comparison. The Israeli group B'Tselem also made the comparison, saying that "for a long period of time following the outbreak of the second intifada Operation Defensive Shield, in April 2002, the IDF systematically used Palestinian civilians as human shields, forcing them to carry out military actions which threatened their lives". The Neighbor Procedure was outlawed by the Supreme Court of Israel in 2005 but some groups say the IDF continues to use it, although they say the number of instances has dropped sharply.
In April 2004, human rights activists from Rabbis for Human Rights reported that Israeli soldiers used 13-year-old Muhammed Badwan as a human shield during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Biddu, by tying him to the front windscreen of their jeep with the purpose, according to the boy's father, of discouraging Palestinian demonstrators from throwing stones at them. A picture of Badwan tied to the jeep was published in the Daily Mail. On 1 July 2009, Amnesty International stated that Israeli troops forced Palestinians to stay in one room of their home while turning the rest of the house into a base and sniper position, "effectively using the families, both adults and children, as human shields and putting them at risk," the group said. "Intentionally using civilians to shield a military objective, often referred to as using 'human shields' is a war crime," Amnesty said. Such actions are condemned by human rights groups as violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Israel has a policy of targeted killings against those it considers proven to have intentions of performing a specific act of terrorism in the very near future or to be linked with several acts of terrorism. In 2006, the Supreme Court of Israel issued its judgment in a case "The Public Committee against Torture in Israel v. The Government of Israel". The case addressed the issue of whether the state acts illegally in its policy of targeted killings. The court considered that the legal context is a conflict “of an international character (international armed conflict). Therefore, the law that applies to the armed conflict between Israel and the terrorist organizations is the international law of armed conflicts.” The court decided that "members of the terrorist organizations are not combatants", "They do not fulfill the conditions for combatants under international law." and that "they do not comply with the international laws of war." They concluded that "members of terrorist organizations have the status of civilians" but that "the protection accorded by international law to civilians does not apply at the time during which civilians take direct part in hostilities." They ruled that they could not determine whether targeted killings are always legal or always illegal, but the legality must be established on a case by case basis. Their ruling stated “it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is prohibited according to customary international law, just as it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is permissible according to customary international law. The law of targeted killing is determined in the customary international law, and the legality of each individual such act must be determined in light of it.” The judgment included guidelines for permissible and impermissible actions involving targeted killings and provided the conditions for investigating the criminality of some of the actions.
Palestinian militants have planned multiple attacks against Israeli civilians such as suicide bombings while living among non-militant Palestinian civilians, and thwarting such attacks may have saved lives. The Israeli army maintains that it pursues such military operations to prevent imminent attacks when it has no discernible means of making an arrest or foiling such attacks by other methods. Some commentators[who?] claim that this practice is in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention (Part 3, Article 1, Section 28) which reads: “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.” According to some commentators[who?] there may be circumstances when international law gives Israel the right to conduct military operations against civilian targets.
For example, in July 2002 the Israeli Defense Forces carried out an air strike targeting Salah Shahade, the commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in a densely populated residential area of Gaza City. The night time bombing resulted in the deaths of 15 persons, 9 of whom were children and the injury of 150 others. According to the Israeli Government, Shehade was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians, and earlier Israel asked the Palestinian Authority to arrest him, but no action was taken. Israel maintains that Shehade was in the process of preparing another large-scale attack inside Israel and thereby constituted a “ticking bomb”.
On 1 March 2009, The Independent has obtained an account which, for the first time, details service in one of the Israeli military's assassination squads. A former IDF soldier of an assassination squad in an interview with The Independent has told of his role in a botched ambush that killed two Palestinian bystanders and two militants. According to the interviewer "the source cannot be identified by name, not least because by finally deciding to talk about what happened, he could theoretically be charged abroad for his direct role in an assassination of the sort most Western countries regard as a grave breach of international law."
According to Amnesty International: "Military checkpoints and blockades around Palestinian towns and villages hindered or prevented access to work, education and medical facilities and other crucial services. Restrictions on the movement of Palestinians remained the key cause of high rates of unemployment and poverty. More than half of the Palestinian population lived below the poverty line, with increasing numbers suffering from malnutrition and other health problems." 
In August 2009, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay criticised Israel for blockading the Gaza strip in a 34-page report, calling it a violation of the rules of war. In September 2009 the UN found in the Goldstone report that the blockade of Gaza amounted to collective punishment and was thus illegal.
2006 Lebanon war
The human rights watch and other organizations have accused Israel of committing war crimes in the 2006 Lebanon war. Israel has rejected those accusations and accused Hezbollah of deliberately firing from civilian areas during the fighting.
2009 Gaza War
The UN fact finding mission published a 575-page report on 15 September 2009 stating it had found that war crimes were committed by both sides involved in the Gaza War.
The report condemns Israel's actions during the conflict for “the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations". It came "to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza”. The report claims that Israel has made disproportionate or excessive use of white phosphorus. Israel has also come under fire from other fact finding missions over the use of white phosphorus – an incendiary weapon which is deemed illegal to use against civilians (already forbidden by the Geneva Conventions) or in civilian areas by Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons – and depleted uranium during the conflict.
The UN report also condemned the use of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants which targeted known civilian areas within Israel, stating that “[t]here’s no question that the firing of rockets and mortars [by armed groups from Gaza] was deliberate and calculated to cause loss of life and injury to civilians and damage to civilian structures. The mission found that these actions also amount to serious war crimes and also possibly crimes against humanity”.
According to the 2010 US State Department Human Rights Report, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Military Advocate General Mandelblit investigated all allegations relating to the 2008–09 Operation Cast Lead military incursion into the Gaza Strip, examining over 150 incidents, including those contained in the UN Human Rights Council's 2009 Goldstone report. In January and July, Mandelblit released updates on the majority of investigations, which included details of indictments against several soldiers for manslaughter, improper use of civilians in wartime, and misconduct. As of July the military advocate general launched 47 military police criminal investigations into IDF conduct during Operation Cast Lead and completed a significant number of them (see annex). On 1 August, the IDF issued a new order appointing humanitarian affairs officers to each battalion to provide further protections for civilian populations during wartime planning and combat operations.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority began in late 2007 to explore opportunities for joint economic projects and activity, in an effort known as the Peace Valley plan. This would include construction of industrial parks in order to create new local businesses and jobs. Much of this was organized through President Shimon Peres who had been directly involved since before his assumption of the presidency.
At an economic conference in Bethlehem in May 2008, various Palestinian businessmen noted that Israel was one of the biggest markets for Palestinian agriculture and other products, but they also noted that some political and security concessions by Israel would be necessary for Palestinian businesses to grow.
In 2009, efforts continued to build Palestinian local institutions and governments from the ground up. Much of this work was done by Tony Blair and U.S. General Keith Dayton. Some analysts saw this as a more substantial way to lay a groundwork for viable institutions and for local peace.
Joint economic cooperation between Israeli officials in Gilboa and Palestinian officials in Jenin has begun to have major results and benefits. In October 2009, a new project got underway promoting tourism and travel between the two areas. Major new business efforts and tourist attractions have been initiated in Jenin. The two regions are planning a joint industrial zone which would bridge the border. Palestinians would produce locally-made handicrafts and sell them through Gilboa to other regions of the world. Another possible project is a joint language center, where Israelis and Palestinians would teach each other Arabic and Hebrew, as well as aspects of their cultural heritage. 
According to Amnesty International report published on 27 October 2009 Israeli restrictions prevent Palestinians from receiving enough water in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The report says Israel's daily water consumption per capita was four times higher than that in the Palestinian territories.
Attitudes towards Israel by human rights organizations, the media, and academia
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Claims of bias and disproportionate attention on Israel
In December 2006 Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary-General, accused the Human Rights Council of focusing too heavily on the Arab-Israeli conflict, while allowing it to monopolize attention at the expense of other situations where there are no less grave violations, or even worse.
Matti Friedman, former AP correspondent in Israel, has analyzed what he perceives as the disproportionate attention given in the media to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict compared to other conflicts that are no less violent, or even worse.
Tuvia Tenenbom, theater director, playwright, author and journalist, in his book Catch the Jew! argues that many seemingly "human rights" NGOs (especially from the EU but also from the rest of the world), EU representatives and Red Cross representatives, that act in Israel actually come to implant and inflame the hatred of the Palestinians against Israel and the Jews, while promoting one sided view of the conflict in the world. He also claims that the textbook in the schools runs by the UN, UNRWA, and flyers distributed by the Red Cross prompts and encouraging anti-semitism against Jews and teach to lack of recognition in the existence of Israel.
Ben-Dror Yemini writes in his book The Industry of Lies that the Arab-Israeli conflict has become the center of a major deception. According to Yemini, lies about Israel in media and academia have been presented as truths; deeply rooted in the global consciousness, this has caused Israel to be seen as a monster, similar to perceptions of Jews in Nazi Germany.
Freedom House has claimed the United Nations has a history of negative focus on Israel that is disproportional in respect to other members, including the actions and statements of the United Nations Human Rights Council and its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Hillel Neuer of UN Watch has described the actions of the UN Commission on Human Rights as a "campaign to demonize Israel". Neuer has stated that an example of bias is that in 2005 the Commission adopted four resolutions against Israel, equaling the combined total of resolutions against all other states in the world. Belarus, Cuba, Myanmar, and North Korea were the subject of one resolution each. In addition, according to UN Watch, in 2004–2005 alone the UN General Assembly passed nineteen resolutions concerning Israel, while not passing any resolution concerning Sudan, which at the time was facing a genocide in the Darfur region.
In 2006, the UN General Assembly voted to replace UNCHR with the UN Human Rights Council. In 2011, Richard Goldstone publicly regretted appointing the UN Human Rights Council to investigate for the Goldstone Report, saying that their "history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted."
In December 2006 Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary-General, accused the members of the Human Rights Council at that time of “double standard”, and on holding Israel to a standard of behaviour that they are unwilling to apply to other States, to Israel's adversaries, or to themselves. Saing that the repeating resolutions and conferences of the General Assembly that condemn Israel's behaviour just strengthen the belief in Israel, and among many of its supporters, that the UN is too one-sided.
In April 2012 the UN released an official statement on which Israel was listed as a country that is restricting the activities of human rights organisations. Israel, the only democratic country to be named on the list, was included because of a bill approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation that would restrict foreign governmental funding of Israeli non-profit groups. The bill was frozen by the Prime Minister and never reached the Knesset, but the statement said: "In Israel, the recently adopted Foreign Funding Law could have a major impact on human rights organizations".
During his visit in Jerusalem in 2013, Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, confirmed that there was a biased attitude towards the Israeli people and Israeli government, stressing that it was "an unfortunate situation." Added that Israel has been criticized and sometimes discriminated against because of the Mideast conflict.
Richard Falk, who was the UNHRC’s special investigator of “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law”, has been criticised by UN Watch for "pro-Hamas appeasement", anti-Western invective, support for 9/11 conspiracy theorists and demonization of Israel.
William Schabas, a Canadian international law expert, was the head of a UN Committee investigating the Israeli role in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. Schabas often accused of his anti-Israeli positions. In February 2015 Schabas acknowledged that he was paid for previous work for the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2012, and that he had not declared this when he applied for the role. This behavior has been seen by Israelis as "clear and documented bias" against Israel. In 2015 Schabas resigned his post, saying he didn't want the issue to overshadow the work of the inquiry.
Ron Prosor, Israel's representative to the United Nations, claimed in UNGA debate on the Question of Palestine, November 2014, that the UN is illogical and tend to lack of sense of justice when it comes to the case of Israel. In a time when thousands are being murdered and expelled worldwide, especially in the Middle East under the tyrannical Radical Islam powers, the only focus of the UN is solely on Israel, will ignoring all others. He claimed that the conflict never was about the establishment of a Palestinian state but on the existence of the Jewish state. He also claimed that the UN is not for Peace or the Palestinian people but simply against Israel, and to ground his claim he points out that if the UN really cared about the situation of the Palestinians they would have taken at least one decisions regarding the situation of the Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon, where the Palestinians are being persecuted and systematically discriminated against.
Amnesty International (AI) has been accused by the American Jewish Congress and NGO Monitor of having a double standard when it comes to its assessment of Israel. Professor Alan Dershowitz, an American legal scholar and columnist for the Huffington Post, has attacked Amnesty International's perceived bias against Israel, claiming that AI absolves Palestinian men of responsibility for domestic violence and places the blame on Israel instead and that it illegitimately characterises legal acts of Israeli self-defence as war-crimes. Dershowitz has joined NGO Monitor's calls for an independent evaluation of anti-Israeli bias within the organisation.
In 2004 NGO Monitor released a study comparing Amnesty International's response to the twenty years of ethnic, religious and racial violence in Sudan in which (at that time) 2,000,000 people were killed and 4,000,000 people displaced, to their treatment of Israel. When NGO Monitor focused on 2001, they found that Amnesty International issued seven reports on Sudan, as opposed to 39 reports on Israel. Between 2000–2003, they claimed the imbalance in issued reports to be 52 reports on Sudan and 192 reports on Israel which they call “lack of balance and objectivity and apparent political bias is entirely inconsistent with AI's official stated mission." They further called attention to the difference in both scale and intensity: “While ignoring the large-scale and systematic bombing and destruction of Sudanese villages, AI issued numerous condemnations of the razing of Palestinian houses, most of which were used as sniper nests or belonged to terrorists. Although failing to decry the slaughter of thousands of civilians by Sudanese government and allied troops, AI managed to criticize Israel’s ‘assassinations’ of active terrorist leaders.”
- Human Rights Organization of Judea and Samaria
- Human rights in the Palestinian territories
- Human rights in Egypt
- Human rights in Syria
- Human rights in Lebanon
- Human rights in Jordan
- Human rights in Iran
- The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) – State of Human Rights Report 2009
- Amnesty International Report 2009 – Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
- Human Rights Watch – Israel and the Occupied Territories
- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Human Rights: Israel's Human Rights and Rule of Law
- U.S. State Department – 2009 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories
- A rough guide to Hebron: The world's strangest guided tour highlights the abuse of Palestinians The Independent, 26 January 2008
- MATTI FRIEDMAN, 2014, What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel, The Atlantic.
- "The Avalon Project : Declaration of Israel's Independence 1948". Avalon.law.yale.edu. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
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