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*This written statement is issued, unedited, in the language(s) received from the submitting non-governmental organization(s).
Universal Periodic Review of Israel
In the first round of human rights universal periodic review of Israel, some suggestions had been made for this country. It was issued according to the situation of human rights in Israel and based on international reports of various human rights organizations between 2012 and 2014. By studying the recommendations made in 2008, we are going to briefly review the most important ones.
According to UPR recommendations, Israel was asked to respect the basic rights of human and humanity (pursued by Burkina Faso, Ireland, France, Philippine, Brazil, Sweden). One of the basic rights of human beings is the right of living. According to HRW report in 21st January 2014, Israeli forces have killed at least 15 Palestinians in the west bank, three of them were children. Among the dead, we can refer to a 16-year-old teenager called Samir Ahmad and the 34-year-old Robin Zayed. According to this UN report, Israeli forces killed three Palestinians citizens in Gaza strip in September 2013. In an Amnesty International report published in 17th April 2013, the Israeli army’s neglection of the misbehavior of 65 Israeli forces during Operation Pillar of Defense in the previous year, during the 8-days-war in Gaza strip, could be a serious violation of human rights and a war crime. According to the reports of 2nd of September 2013, Israeli forces have brutally killed 3 people and injured 19 others in a wild gunfire in Qalandia refugee camp. Based on the same report, 5 of the injured were under 18 years old. According to the United States reports regarding human rights violation in occupied Palestine in 2013, Israeli forces have killed 75 Palestinians in the west bank and the Gaza Strip up until October 2012. Rashed Shawkha, Yahia Zakoot and Hashem Mesbah are only a few examples.
Amongst other recommendations which was made to Israel was to stop displacing and demolishing the houses of Palestinians (pursued by Jordan). According to a 21st January 2012 report made by HRW, Israeli authorities have destroyed houses of Palestinian citizens in a series of racial actions. According to this report, thousands of Palestinians were forced to be displaced. It was also stated in the report of January 3rd, 2014 that Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya'alon must stop mandatory displacement of 23 Palestinian people. It was also stated in the same report that in the first half of 2013 more than 1708 houses were built in the towns which was 70% more than the same time the year before. As the peace negotiations began, Israel planned to add another 3000 units to its settlement expansions. According to the United States foreign ministry report regarding human rights violation in the occupied lands, Israeli security forces still continue the destruction of Palestinian homes in the west bank and some areas in Jerusalem. For instance, 250 Bedouin families were told to relocate in Khan Al-Ahmar and the citizens of a village in the south of Hebron Hills were threatened as well.
According to the January 3rd, 2014 report, the freedom of traffic in the west bank has faced some serious limitations such as check-points, separate borders and some other complications as well (pursued by Mexico, Netherlands, Belgium). Later in the same report it was mentioned that Israeli forces keep building separation walls around west Jerusalem. More than 85 percent of these separation walls are located in the west bank rather than the Green Line and 11000 Palestinian people living in the Israeli division of these borders are not allowed to go to Israel while they need to cross the borders and go to the west bank for their daily affairs. According to the United States foreign ministry report regarding human rights violation in the occupied lands, Israel has limited the traffic of Palestinians in the occupied lands territory and limitations such as travelling abroad is getting more day by day. These limitations are directly affecting different aspects of people’s lives such as employment, inaccessibility to religious sites, hospitals, schools, farms and also impossibility of journalism and humanitarian actions.
Respecting the rights of religious minorities is another recommendation that was made to Israel based on UPR report (pursued by England, Canada, Ireland, and Greece). However, we see violations of this right in international reports. According to the HRW report of 13th February 2013, Israeli government has destroyed the houses of some religious minorities called Bedouins. Violation of their rights was also mentioned in the HRW report of 21st January 2014. Immigration and refugee board of Canada has reported in February 28th, 2013: according to the report of freedom of religion in 2011, Evangelical Christians are being abused and mistreated by some Jewish group acts; Media resources show that acts of vandalism have caused the destruction of Christian religious sites in 2012, such as the house of Saint Baptist, Narkis Street, a cemetery in Latron city, Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem and Franciscan monastery at Mount Zion. Sources have reported that in October 2011 “death to Arabs” was written on the gravestone of Muslims and Christians. They have also reported that the mayor of Nazaret-Illit stated: “I will never allow Christian citizens to up a Christmas tree in public places”. Many reports were received concerning harassment of Jewish-Christians as well. Reports are saying that the people who commit these crimes against Jewish-Christians are rarely arrested by the police.
The UPR requested Israel to stop the Gaza Strip Blockage (pursued by Italy, France, Switzerland, Qatar, Pakistan, Cuba and Yemen). According to a HRW report on 21st January 2014, in result of the Gaza Strip blockage, especially the ban of exports, many life casualties have been reported. It was stated in the report that Israeli forces have reduced the fishing area in Gaza Strip and in the second half of 2013 killed 5 fishermen. According to a HRW report on 13th February 2013, export ban in Gaza Strip is still continuing.
Respecting the right of freedom of expression was another issue recommended to Israel (pursued by Norway). According to the report in January 21st, 2014 submitted by HRW, Israeli forces have arrested Palestinians who attended peaceful demonstrations condemning the settlements and separation walls. According to a HRW report on February 13th, 2013 Israeli forces continue to suppress Palestinians’ peaceful demonstrations. The same report issued that Israeli forces have raided many civil society offices in Ramallah arresting many people in 2012. Based on a HRW report on July 18th, 2013, five witnesses stated that extreme violence was put up against the protestors of a law-draft that facilitates the relocation of thousands of Bedouins living in Negev by police forces. The same story happened in Sakhnin in north Israel. The two cases were stated in an Amnesty International report on July 31st, 2013. According to the United States foreign ministry human rights violation report on 2013, illustrating political symbols for the Palestinians living in the western area of Jerusalem is prohibited and results in fines or jail. Showing anti-Israeli feelings, expressing similar matters or holding meetings supported by Palestinian authorities is banned as well.
In the 2008 UPR it was asked from Israel to take a different judicial process for arrested children (pursued by Slovenia). It seems that this report was neglected just like the other ones. It was stated in the HRW report on January 21st, 2014 that Israeli forces are still arresting children. They are kept in the same place with the adults and they are getting interrogated without presence of any attorneys or members of their families. They are forced to sign a confession written in Hebrew which they don’t understand. Amnesty International has also submitted reports concerning the violation of children rights in Israeli prisons on September 2013.
Israel is also obliged to respect the basic rights of the prisoners and detainees. According to HRW report in February 13th, 2013, there has been many cases of torture, arbitrary and precautionary arrests by Israeli forces. According to the United States foreign ministry report in 2013, abusing Palestinian detainees (especially at the time of arrest and interrogation), difficult situation of arrest, torturing prisoners to get confessions and keeping them in solitary for a long time were known as examples of human rights violations in the occupied lands. Among these cases it can be referred to 16-year-old Adham D., who was kept in solitary confinement for 12 days under brutal interrogation. The unsuitable and inhumane conditions of prisoners (15 square feet for each prisoner) and inappropriate medical care were mentioned in the report as well.
It was recommended to Israel in the UPR to ensure the activity of human rights defenders (pursed by Austria). An October 27, 2013 HRW report states that Israeli forces are irritating the Aldamir group which provides legal services for the Palestinian detainees. Israeli security forces have set a lot of limitations and heavy fines for the employees of this group while they are not involved in any hostile action.
The study shows that despite accepting some first round UPR recommendations by Israel, some cases of violations can still be seen. Based on the reported facts, IREC recommends that the addressed country must take the mentioned recommendations by other countries and international organizations more seriously and show more respect to the international organizations at least by taking their accepted recommendations.