Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2013

The authorities failed to independently investigate allegations of torture of detainees by the ISA, fuelling a climate of impunity. Investigations were the responsibility of the Interrogee Complaints Comptroller, an ISA employee, despite a November 2010 decision by the Attorney General to place the Comptroller under the Ministry of Justice. A law exempting the Israeli police and ISA from recording interrogations of “security” detainees, almost all of whom are Palestinian, was extended, helping to perpetuate impunity for torture and other ill-treatment. Despite the filing of more than 700 complaints relating to 2001-2012, only one criminal investigation had been opened by the end of 2012.

  • Samer al-Barq went on hunger strike three times from April 2012, in protest against his administrative detention since July 2010 and harsh conditions at a prison medical centre in Ramleh. He was denied specialized medical care and ill-treated by prison guards, who beat and verbally abused him.
  • Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, who was forcibly transferred from Ukraine to Israel in February 2011, entered his second year in solitary confinement without family visits at Shikma Prison, near Ashkelon. He was reportedly in ill health and had been denied adequate medical treatment. His lawyer and family alleged that he had been coerced, under torture, into “confessing” that he had designed rockets for use by the military wing of Hamas.

Freedoms of expression and assembly

Israeli soldiers opened fire with live ammunition on Palestinian protesters on numerous occasions in areas inside Gaza's perimeter and routinely used excessive force against demonstrators in the West Bank, killing at least four. As local human rights groups documented, Israeli soldiers also fired tear gas canisters directly at peaceful protesters, causing serious injuries. The authorities also used excessive force against demonstrations inside Israel.

  • Mahmoud Zaqout was killed and scores of protesters were injured on 30 March when Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition at “Land Day” demonstrators near the Erez Crossing in Gaza and used excessive force against several demonstrations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
  • Security forces arrested over 100 people and used excessive force to disperse hundreds of Israeli protesters who gathered in Tel Aviv on 22 and 23 June to call for lower housing costs and better health and education.
  • In October, activist Bassem Tamimi was imprisoned for the second time during 2012 for his involvement in non-violent protests against Israeli settlements. In an unfair trial in November he received a four-month sentence.

Conscientious objectors

At least six Israeli citizens were sent to jail for refusing to serve in the army on grounds of conscience. One, Natan Blanc, continued to be held at the end of the year.

  • Noam Gur was arrested on 17 April for refusing to carry out military service. She served two 10-day prison sentences in April and May.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

People seeking international protection continued to be denied access to fair refugee-determination procedures and faced arrest and detention. Thousands of asylum-seekers were imprisoned under the Anti-Infiltration Law, which was passed in January and implemented from June. In violation of international refugee law, the law empowered the authorities to automatically detain asylum-seekers alongside others crossing irregularly into Israel, for a minimum of three years and allowed indefinite detention in some cases. At the end of the year, the authorities were expanding detention capacity in the Negev desert to hold more than 11,000 people, and at least 2,400 asylum-seekers were detained, many in tents.