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Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

    June 05, 2014

    The Israeli government’s refusal to allow whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who leaked details of the country’s nuclear arsenal to the international media in 1986, to leave the country for even three days to attend events in the UK next week is entirely unjustified, said Amnesty International.

    Last month, Israel’s Interior Minister rejected an application by the former nuclear technician to travel to the UK in June. His lawyers have petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn this decision, as well as to revoke a host of other restrictions against him including an ongoing complete travel ban. The Court is expected to rule on his request to travel to the UK next week.

    Mordechai Vanunu is due to attend an event organized by Amnesty International on 17 June to promote the protection of whistleblowers including Edward Snowdon and Chelsea Manning. He has also been invited to address the British parliament on 18 June. 

    May 15, 2014

    Israeli forces have displayed continuing recklessness in their use of force against Palestinian protesters when they killed a young man and a teenager, and injured others, during a crackdown on demonstrations to commemorate the Nakba in the occupied West Bank today, said Amnesty International.

    The killings occurred in a demonstration outside Ofer military camp. As well as commemorating the Nakba (the dispossession of Palestinians in 1948), the demonstrators were expressing solidarity with around 125 Palestinian detainees who are being held by Israel without charge and have been on hunger strike for 22 days to protest their detention conditions.

    The Israeli army and border police used excessive, including lethal, force in response to rock-throwing protesters who could not have posed a threat to the lives of the soldiers and policemen in or near the fortified military camp.

    April 16, 2014

    Ten years after serving a full sentence for his revelations to the press about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, Mordechai Vanunu still faces severe restrictions that arbitrarily infringe on his freedom of movement, expression and association, said Amnesty International.

    The former nuclear technician served an 18-year-prison sentence, the first 11 years of which were in solitary confinement, for disclosing information to journalists about Israel’s nuclear arsenal during the 1980s. 

    Since his release in 2004, renewable military orders, have placed Mordechai Vanunu under police supervision. Among other things, he is banned from leaving the country and participating in internet chats. He must also seek permission to communicate with any foreign nationals, including journalists.

    “The authorities’ continued punishment of Mordechai Vanunu appears to be purely vindictive. The government’s arguments that these severe restrictions are necessary for national security are ludicrous,” said Avner Gidron, Senior Policy Adviser at Amnesty International.  

    February 26, 2014

    Posted at 0001 GMT 27 February 2014

    Israel’s security forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life by killing scores of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank over the past three years with near total impunity, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    The report, Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank, describes mounting bloodshed and human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as a result of the Israeli forces’ use of unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians since January 2011.

    In all cases examined by Amnesty International, Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life. In some, there is evidence that they were victims of wilful killings, which would amount to war crimes.

    January 21, 2014
    Stephen Harper and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Jan 19 (PMO photo)

    Op-ed by Alex Neve (Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada), Béatrice Vaugrante (Directrice Générale, Amnistie internationale Canada francophone) and Yonatan Gher (Executive Director, Amnesty International Israel)

    Many eyes were watching closely during this visit. There would have been no better time to show that Canada is a principled human rights champion. But that was not to be.

    There was considerable fanfare and red carpet during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to Israel this week.

    After nearly eight years in office, the prime minister visited the country with which he has forged closer links than almost any other. The spectacle was breathtaking, with a delegation of over 200 people, including six cabinet ministers and other government MPs. With that sort of political heft, the opportunity to press important issues was considerable. 

    How disappointing, though not surprising, that Israel’s numerous human rights shortcomings did not make that list.

    December 03, 2013

    Israeli lawmakers must reject proposed amendments to the country’s Prevention of Infiltration Law, which would allow thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants to be held indefinitely in a remote desert detention centre, Amnesty International urged ahead of a 4 December vote in the Internal Affairs Committee of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

    The Committee has announced that it will bring the bill before the full Knesset for its final readings in the coming days.

    According to government reports, the amendments will provide for detaining some 3,300 people indefinitely in a fenced-in facility operated by the Israel Prison Service in the Negev desert, which the government is calling an “open centre”. The draft legislation states that the way for them to be released from the “open” centre is by being deported to their countries of origin – mainly Eritrea and Sudan.

    November 30, 2013

    Posted on Sunday December 1, 2013 00:01 GMT

    Israel must immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, including by allowing the delivery of fuel and other essential supplies into the territory without restrictions, said Amnesty International today.

    For the last month, all of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents have been living without power for most of the time and in the shadow of a public health catastrophe, after their sole power plant was forced to shut down, causing the failure of several sewerage and water plants.

    “This latest harsh setback has exacerbated the assault on the dignity of Palestinians in Gaza and the massive denial of rights they have experienced for more than six years because of Israel’s blockade, together with restrictions imposed by Egypt,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    October 29, 2013

    The Israeli authorities must thoroughly engage with and implement the recommendations made during an examination of its human rights performance today, said Amnesty International.

    This afternoon, Israel will undergo its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the United Nations Human Rights Council’s review process. It had previously refused to participate in a session scheduled for 29 January 2013 and threatened to boycott the October session.

    “The fact that Israel’s human rights performance is finally going to be reviewed today is positive news. However, it is not enough for Israel to simply attend the session; it must engage with the process and accept and implement accepted recommendations to improve the situation of human rights on the ground,” said Peter Splinter, the organization’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

    October 24, 2013

    The Israeli authorities must drop all charges against a Palestinian human rights lawyer released on bail last night, Amnesty International said.

    A military judge at Ofer Military Court ordered the release of Anas Bargouthi on bail because confessions from other detainees submitted as evidence failed to prove he is a security threat – particularly since the accusations against him relate to alleged activities from over a year ago.

    “The release of Anas Bargouthi is positive news but he should have never been detained and charged in the first place,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    October 02, 2013

    The Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip must urgently halt the execution today of man who was under 18 at the time of one of his alleged crimes, said Amnesty International.

    “The authorities in Gaza must urgently stop the execution scheduled for today. It is deeply disappointing that the Hamas de facto administration is returning to using the gallows after a brief reprieve in the summer,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director of Amnesty International.

    The organization has received credible information that Hani Muhammad Abu Alian, who was sentenced to death in 2012, is likely to be executed this afternoon.  There are serious concerns regarding his trial, including allegations he was tortured or otherwise ill-treated during his interrogation to extract a confession.

    "It is shocking that Hani Abu Alian is facing execution, particularly as it was a crime committed when he was a under 18, and imposed by a court which according to his lawyer relied upon a forced confession,” said Philip Luther.

    August 27, 2013

    Evidence strongly suggests that three men who were shot dead with live ammunition during an arrest raid on a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Monday were unlawfully killed by Israeli forces, Amnesty International said today. 

    Another 19 people, including six children, were injured by live ammunition fired during the raid on Qalandia refugee camp, the highest number of casualties in a single Israeli operation in the West Bank this year. Five of those wounded, including three children, had injuries to the upper body.

    “The intentional lethal use of firearms – such as firing live ammunition at individuals’ upper bodies – is only permissible if strictly unavoidable to protect life,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “The loss of life and high number of casualties in this incident raise serious questions as to whether heavily armoured Israeli troops acted according to international standards.”

    August 08, 2013

    The Hamas authorities in Gaza must halt several executions they say they plan to carry out after this week’s Muslim religious festival of Eid al-Fitr, Amnesty International has urged.

    Hamas’ Attorney General said last week that several convicted “criminals” are set to be executed in public as a “lesson” to others.

    “This and other recent announcements by Hamas authorities that they will carry out further executions are deeply disturbing,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “We acknowledge the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences, but the death penalty is cruel and inhuman, and there is no evidence that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments.”

    One of those at risk is a 27-year-old man known as “H.M.A.” who, while detained in relation to another case, was apparently tortured to “confess” to the rape and murder of a six-year-old boy allegedly committed when H.M.A. was under18.

    July 31, 2013

    The Israeli authorities must not use excessive force on demonstrators planning to protest against a plan to forcibly evict tens of thousands of Arab Bedouins from their homes in southern Israel, said Amnesty International.

    Citizens across Israel are organizing demonstrations for a “Day of Rage” on Thursday 1 August, to oppose the Prawer-Begin plan. The plan enables the forced eviction of more than 30,000 residents in the Negev desert. Peaceful protests against the proposal on 15 July were met with excessive force by Israeli riot police and border police forces. Amnesty International is calling on the government of Israel to scrap the proposal.

    “The Prawer-Begin plan is a blatant example of Israel’s discriminatory policies towards its Palestinian minority. It must be dropped immediately,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    July 18, 2013

    Israel must immediately halt all demolitions of Arab Bedouin homes in communities in the Negev/Naqab desert which the government has refused to officially recognize, Amnesty International said, following news that the village of al-'Araqib was once again razed by land authorities.

    “The Israeli authorities must halt demolitions in these communities and change course completely to guarantee all citizens’ right to adequate housing,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “The Israeli government’s Prawer-Begin plan would lead to the forced eviction of tens of thousands of Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel. The plan is inherently discriminatory, flies in the face of Israel’s international obligations and cannot be accepted in any circumstances.”

    Bulldozers from the Israel Land Administration, accompanied by a large and heavily-armed police force in more than 60 vehicles, arrived in al-‘Araqib early on Tuesday morning and began to destroy 15 shacks, effectively flattening the village and displacing 22 families.

    July 04, 2013

    Amnesty International has accused the Israeli authorities of bullying and judicial harassment of Nariman Tamimi, a Palestinian rights activist who was placed under partial house arrest today to prevent her taking part in peaceful protests while she awaits trial next week. 

    “This is an unrelenting campaign of harassment, the latest in a litany of human rights violations against Nariman Tamimi, her family, and her fellow villagers. These arbitrary restrictions should be lifted immediately and the charges should be dropped,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. 

    Tamimi was arrested along with another activist Rana Hamadi on Friday 28 June, when villagers of Nabi Saleh walk towards a nearby spring in protest against the loss of their land.  In 2009 Israeli settlers occupied the Al-Qaws spring near Nabi Saleh village where Tamimi lives. The illegal settlement now enjoys the protection of the military.

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