The article by Ben White is followed by excerpts from the country report on the oPt.
A demolished house in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb where all the houses of the village were demolished – again – by Israeli forces Photo by Eman from Wikipedia.
Excessive use of force, demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property are among the human rights abuses detailed by the US State Department country report.
By Ben White, Electronic Intifada
April 22, 2013
Israel practices “institutional and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens: this is the conclusion of the US State Department in its newly-published Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012.
The annual country report on Israel contains uncomfortable reading for pro-Israel advocacy groups, particularly given who is publishing it. With regards to problems faced by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, the State Department notes the following:
“Resources devoted to Arabic education were inferior to those devoted to Hebrew education in the public education system.”
“Approximately 93 percent of land was in the public domain, including approximately 12.5 percent owned by the NGO Jewish National Fund (JNF), whose statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews.”
“Approximately 60,000 Bedouin lived in at least 46 unrecognized tent or shack villages that did not have water and electricity and lacked educational, health, and welfare services.”
“The law bars family reunification when a citizen’s spouse is a non-Jewish citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon. Citizens may apply for temporary visit permits for Palestinian male spouses 35 years old or older or Palestinian female spouses 25 years old or older, but may not receive residency based on their marriage and have no path to citizenship.”
In addition, the report also records human rights abuses perpetrated by the Israeli authorities against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, such as:
“excessive use of force against civilians, including killings; abuse of Palestinian detainees, particularly during arrest and interrogation; austere and overcrowded detention facilities; improper use of security detention procedures; demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property; limitations on freedom of expression, assembly, and association; and severe restrictions on Palestinians’ internal and external freedom of movement.”
The State Department’s observations on Israel’s institutionalized racism and systematic violations of Palestinian rights are far from comprehensive or flawless. But it is a marked contrast to the kind of tokenism popular with Israel’s propagandists – like the Jewish Agency’s Avi Mayer’s tweeting of the appointment of a Palestinian citizen to the position of director of the emergency department at Hadassah University Medical Center, a story he shared nine times over one hour.
Avi Mayer @avimayer
As #Israel’s foes fire libelous lies at the country, stories such as this one shine even brighter: http://bit.ly/ZHnvLs . Share it.
9:21 AM – 22 Apr 2013
It’s the hasbara version of that familiar refrain: I’m not racist, some of my best friends are black.
By Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, State Department
April 19, 2013
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has a democratically elected president and legislative council. The PA exercised varying degrees of authority over the West Bank due to the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) continuing presence, and none over Arab residents of East Jerusalem due to Israel’s extension of Israeli law and authority to East Jerusalem in 1967. Although PA laws apply in the Gaza Strip, the PA had little authority in the Gaza Strip and none over Israeli residents of the West Bank. In the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections, candidates backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization, won 74 of 132 seats in elections that generally met democratic standards. In 2007 Hamas staged a violent takeover of PA government installations in the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad continued to govern the West Bank during the year. Both PA and Israeli security forces reported to civilian authorities. Hamas maintained control of security forces in the Gaza Strip.
The three most significant human rights abuses across the occupied territories were arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, often with impunity, by multiple actors in the region; restrictions on civil liberties; and the inability of residents of the Gaza Strip under Hamas to choose their own government or hold it accountable.
Other human rights problems under the PA in the West Bank included abuse and mistreatment of detainees, poor and overcrowded detention facilities, prolonged detention, and infringements on privacy rights. Restrictions on freedom of speech, press, and assembly continued. There were some limits on freedom of association and movement. Corruption was a problem. Violence against women and societal discrimination were serious problems. At times the PA allowed anti-Semitic expression. Abuse of children and discrimination against persons with disabilities also were serious problems. Discrimination based on sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS status persisted. There were some limits on worker rights and forced labor, including by children. Child labor also remained a serious problem.
Human rights abuses under Hamas included security forces killing, torturing, arbitrarily detaining, and harassing opponents, Fatah members, and other Palestinians with impunity. Hamas and various other terrorist organizations and militant factions in the Gaza Strip launched rockets and mortars against civilian targets in Israel, killing and injuring civilians. Gaza-based civil rights organizations reported prisoners were held in poor conditions in detention facilities in the Gaza Strip. Authorities reportedly failed to provide fair trials to a number of accused prisoners. Hamas also infringed on privacy rights. Hamas restricted the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement of Gaza Strip residents. Discrimination against women and domestic violence were problems. Abuse of children and discrimination against persons with disabilities were problems. Hamas frequently promoted anti-Semitism. Discrimination based on sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS status persisted. Restrictions on worker rights continued. Forced labor, including by children, occurred. There were reports of children trained as soldiers. Child labor remained a problem.
Human rights problems related to Israeli authorities included reports of excessive use of force against civilians, including killings; abuse of Palestinian detainees, particularly during arrest and interrogation; austere and overcrowded detention facilities; improper use of security detention procedures; demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property; limitations on freedom of expression, assembly, and association; and severe restrictions on Palestinians’ internal and external freedom of movement. The IDF maintained restrictions on movement into and out of the Gaza Strip and largely limited the travel of Palestinians out of Gaza to humanitarian cases, in addition to some business travelers.
The PA, Hamas, and Israeli authorities took minimal steps to address impunity or reduce abuses. There were reports the PA, Hamas, and IDF did not adequately pursue investigations and disciplinary actions related to violations.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports the PA security services committed arbitrary or unlawful killings; however, there was a death in custody. In July while being detained by PA security forces, a PA official facing possible treason charges for allegedly selling land to Israelis died after he reportedly jumped from the third story of a PA security forces building. Some of his family members alleged he was pushed from the window.
Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, committed unlawful killings in Israel and the Gaza Strip. According to Israeli government statistics, Palestinian terrorist acts emanating from the West Bank injured approximately 30 Israelis, although according to Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency (ISA), for the first time since 1973 no Israelis were killed in the West Bank or Jerusalem during the year.
Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including the armed wings of the Popular Resistance Committees, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, launched indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel. During the year, Hamas fired approximately 2,327 rockets and mortars at Israel from the Gaza Strip, according to data compiled by the ISA.
According to local media and the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), Hamas unlawfully executed at least seven persons in the Gaza Strip during the year. By law the PA president must ratify each death penalty case, but Hamas did not contact the PA regarding any of these executions. For example, on April 7, Hamas hanged three men. Hamas released only the initials of the first two, “W.J.” and “M.A.”; the third was named Mohammad Baraka. W.J. reportedly was convicted of collaborating with Israel, while M.A. and Baraka were convicted of murder. Through November the Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas, claimed responsibility for seven extrajudicial killings of persons accused of collaborating with Israel. According to press reports, on November 20, the Hamas military wing shot and killed six suspected collaborators with Israel and dragged one of the bodies behind a motorcycle through the streets of Gaza City. According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, Hamas torture in 2011 reportedly resulted in five deaths in detention (see section 1.c.).
There were new developments in the April 2011 case in which Salafist militants reportedly killed Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian pro-Palestinian activist living in the Gaza Strip. In September a Hamas-run military court sentenced four Palestinians for their involvement in the abduction and murder of Arrigoni. Two were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor, one to 10 years’ imprisonment, and one to one year’s imprisonment. In late September 2011, at the first hearing in a military court in Gaza City, the four suspects claimed their videotaped confessions had been extracted under torture.
The Israeli government killed Palestinian civilians as well as militants. As of the end of October, Israeli security forces killed at least 68 Palestinians in Gaza and seven in the West Bank. Some of these killings were unlawful. Five of those killed in the Gaza Strip and two of those killed in the West Bank were minors.
In the West Bank, the IDF killed three Palestinians during demonstrations or clashes during the year.
On March 27, IDF soldiers in civilian clothes involved in a training exercise outside of Ramallah in the West Bank shot Rashad Shawakha. Shawakha and his brothers, who thought their house was being robbed, met the soldiers with a knife and a club. Shawakha stabbed one of the soldiers after they did not identify themselves when asked and one drew a gun. The soldiers fired on Shawakha and his two brothers. He died six days later and his two brothers suffered moderate injuries. The IDF reported that a preliminary examination of the incident indicated it was clearly a combat situation, which does not require an immediate investigation. An operative inquiry was held and the findings were submitted to the office of the Military Advocate General.
On March 30, on the Gaza border, an IDF soldier in a guard tower at the Erez crossing killed Mahmoud Muhammad Yihya Zaqut in response to stones being thrown at the tower during “Land Day” protests.
There were also continued reports of Israeli forces killing Palestinians in restricted areas in the Gaza Strip. Israel warns Palestinians they are at risk of being shot if they come within 300 meters (328 yards) of the “buffer zone” separating Gaza from Israeli territory; however, in practice Israel regularly enforced the buffer zone by firing toward Palestinians approaching at distances well beyond 328 yards.
On April 3, the IDF killed Hashem Musbah Salem Sa’ed, and on November 23, the IDF killed Anwar Qdeih, after each came within 300 meters of the fence.
The Israeli government launched missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and fighter aircraft strikes into the Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem), prior to a November operation against Hamas these attacks killed 41 Palestinians participating in hostilities, at least nine Palestinians not participating in hostilities, and 10 Palestinians who were the objects of targeted killing. The IDF used tanks and remote-controlled weapon stations to fire on Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip. IDF personnel maintained secure stations every several hundred yards along the border fence; each station contained machine guns with a nearly one-mile firing range. The IDF’s tanks also sometimes fired ammunition with flechette projectiles that explode in midair, releasing thousands of 1.5-inch metal darts that disperse in an arc 328 yards wide.
In response to repeated rocket fire, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense targeting Hamas in the Gaza Strip between November 14 and November 21, which ended in a cease-fire agreement. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli aerial and artillery attacks killed 158 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. OCHA reported 103 were civilians, including 30 children, and 13 women. The operation killed Hamas’ military leader, Ahmed Jabari, in a targeted attack on November 14. A Hamas photographer also was killed in that attack. HRW reported a two-year-old boy was a casualty of a targeted attack that struck across the street from his residence.
In December 2011, in the village of a-Nabi Saleh, a soldier in an armored jeep fired a tear gas canister directly at Mustafa Tamimi, who was throwing stones at the IDF vehicle. The gas canister struck Tamimi in the head and he died several hours later. While IDF and police orders specifically prohibit tear gas from being fired directly at demonstrators, B’Tselem reported in April the Border Police frequently fired tear gas canisters directly and carelessly at demonstrators, without ensuring demonstrators were out of the line of fire. The organization also reported authorities did not prosecute any member of the security forces for causing injury by firing a tear gas grenade directly at a person.
In May two Israeli police officers were convicted of negligent homicide in 2008 for abandoning Omar Abu Jarban, a Palestinian who was in an accident driving a stolen car, by the side of the road.
According to B’Tselem, in April 2011 Israel began investigating every case in which the IDF killed civilians not taking part in hostilities. Since April 2011 soldiers killed Palestinians in nine incidents. Investigations were conducted in eight of these incidents. Israeli law restricts the ability of Palestinians harmed by the illegal acts of Israeli security forces to seek compensation in Israeli courts.
In the West Bank, there were no reports of politically motivated disappearances in connection with internal Palestinian conflict.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas security operatives carried out extrajudicial detentions based on political affiliation during the year. Information concerning the whereabouts and welfare of those detained was not consistently or reliably available, and many of those detained were denied due process or access to family and legal counsel.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The PA Basic Law, the collection of laws governing the area under PA control, prohibits torture or use of force against detainees; however, international human rights groups reported that torture and abuse remained a problem across the occupied territories.
Palestinian detainees held by PA security forces registered more than 296 complaints of abuse and torture with the ICHR during the year. Reported abuse by PA authorities in the West Bank included forcing prisoners to sit in a painful position for long periods, beating, punching, flogging, intimidation, and psychological pressure. Independent observers noted abuse was not systematic or routinely practiced in PA prisons, although some prisoners experienced abuse during arrest or interrogation. The PA Corrections and Rehabilitation Centers Department (CRCD) reported no cases of inmate abuse by its staff. The PA General Administration for Reform and Rehabilitation Centers, under the authority of the PA Ministry of Interior, operated a mechanism for reviewing complaints of prisoner abuse in civil prisons.
Palestinian press reported in January the Preventive Security Services opened an investigation into reports one of its officers beat Yazan Sawafta, an attorney for the ICHR, during a January 9 protest.
On May 13, police arrested Zakaria Zubeidi, the cofounder of Jenin’s Freedom Theater, during an attack by an unidentified group on the home of the Jenin governor. In September he was released on bail, after being held without charges for four months. He stated he was held in solitary confinement for 50 days and that his PA interrogators tortured and abused him.
HRW reported Palestinian police forces beat peaceful protesters in Ramallah in the West Bank during protests on June 30 and July 1. Six protesters were severely beaten and required hospitalization. Although numerous reports implicated specific individual police, there was no evidence authorities held anyone accountable for the beatings.
Detainees held by Hamas filed at least 142 claims of torture and abuse with the ICHR through October 31, as opposed to 112 complaints for all of 2011. HRW reported the Hamas Internal Security Services, the drugs unit of the civil police force, and police detectives tortured detainees. In the Gaza Strip, security elements under the Hamas de facto “ministry of interior” tortured and abused security detainees, persons associated with the PA or the Fatah political party, those held on suspicion of collaboration with Israel, civil society activists, journalists, and those who reportedly had engaged in “immoral” activity. Hamas also reportedly deployed undercover officers to assault such persons. HRW reported that complaints of abuse included being forced to stand in uncomfortable stress positions, flogging, hand binding, suspension, blindfolding, punching, and beatings with clubs, electric cables, or hoses. On October 16, a 27-year-old man died in police custody in Gaza; his family claimed his death was a result of torture.
Hamas reportedly took little or no action to investigate reports of torture, and reports and documentation of abuses was limited, due to victims’ fear of retribution and to lack of access to Gaza Strip prisoners by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) or PA officials.
Human rights organizations reported that “physical interrogation methods” permitted by Israeli law and used by Israeli security personnel could amount in practice to torture; these included beatings, forcing an individual to hold a stress position for long periods, and painful pressure from shackles or restraints applied to the forearms. Israeli and Palestinian NGOs continued to criticize these and other Israeli detention practices they termed abusive, including isolation, sleep deprivation, and psychological abuse, such as threats to interrogate spouses, siblings, or elderly parents, or demolish family homes.
Israeli authorities reportedly used similar tactics on Palestinian minors. Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) and Breaking the Silence claimed Israeli security services continued to abuse, and in some cases torture, minors who frequently were arrested on suspicion of stone throwing, to coerce confessions. Tactics included beatings, long-term handcuffing, threats, intimidation, and solitary confinement. Since 2008 DCI-Palestine has documented 59 cases of minors held in solitary confinement. For example, according to the group, on October 14, Israeli soldiers arrested 16-year-old Adham D. and transferred him to the al Jalame facility, where he was held in solitary confinement for 12 days while the IDF used harsh interrogation techniques on him.
On December 17, Israeli naval forces fired in the direction of a Palestinian fishing vessel that allegedly passed beyond the six-nautical-mile limit imposed on Gaza Strip residents, injuring one fisherman.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
The PA Ministry of Health reported prisoners in PA facilities, including in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, suffered from extremely bad detention conditions.
Prison conditions in the Gaza Strip were reportedly poor, although little information was available.
IDF detention centers for security detainees were less likely than Israeli civilian prisons to meet international standards.
Physical Conditions: Despite one new and one expanded facility, the PA prison system remained seriously inadequate and overcrowded for the prison population it served. In the West Bank some facilities did not have enough beds for all inmates, forcing some to sleep on mattresses on the floor. Most prisons continued to lack ventilation, heating, cooling, and lighting that conformed to international standards. Inmates had sufficient access to potable water. Space and capacity issues reduced the availability of medical care and vocational or other programs for inmates in civil police prisons. There were no deaths reported in PA prisons from adverse conditions. PA civil police prisons held 934 prisoners at year’s end, approximately 12 percent more than the rated capacity of 831. Male juveniles at times were housed with adult male prisoners. Security services used separate detention facilities. Conditions for women were virtually identical to those for men; however, some detention centers for women had limited outdoor recreation space.
Detention facilities in the Gaza Strip were reportedly below international legal or humanitarian standards. HRW reported prisoners in Gaza were deprived of potable water, food, and other basic necessities.
Some Israeli government facilities, such as the Ofer detention center, provided living space as small as 15 square feet per detainee. NGOs stated poor conditions appeared to be used as an interrogation or intimidation method. Prisoners also continued to claim inadequate medical care. Detainees under Israeli control had access to potable water.
According to NGO sources, approximately 4,743 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons at the end of November. DCI-Palestine reported that at the end of November 135 minors were held in Israeli detention.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), DCI-Palestine, and Breaking The Silence reported that most reports of abuse or poor conditions occurred during arrest and interrogation, generally within the first 48 hours following arrest.
In May Israeli media reported Israel agreed to pay 1.2 million NIS ($320,000) to the family of a Palestinian prisoner killed during a 2007 prison riot. Israel did not find any of the prison guards at fault for the killing.
Administration: Record keeping in the West Bank was adequate, with the CRCD storing information on computers, but records were not publicly available. According to the law any person sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not more than three months may petition the public prosecutor to put him to work outside the correctional and rehabilitation center [the prison] instead of executing the sentence of imprisonment against him, unless the judgment deprives him of that option. Although the law allows for this, the legal system did not have the capacity to implement such a process. All PA civil police prisons allowed visitors on a weekly basis, permitted religious observance, provided a procedure for submitting complaints through a prison officer or directly to the warden, and had an investigation process for complaints. The PA investigated allegations of mistreatment. Although ombudsmen cannot serve on behalf of prisoners, the ICHR played an ombudsman role.
Little information was available about prison administration in the Gaza Strip. In October HRW reported it had documented cases in which hospital officials allegedly refused to provide medical records that could be used as evidence of custodial abuse.
Every Monday morning families of Palestinians detained by Israel gather in the courtyard of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Gaza Strip headquarters. Photo by Joe Catron.
Record keeping by Israeli authorities in the West Bank was often only in Hebrew, inaccessible to the Palestinian public, and there were no reports of improvements in recordkeeping. There was an ombudsman. Detainees under Israeli control were allowed visitors. Human rights groups reported families of imprisoned Palestinians, particularly Gazans, had limited ability to visit prisoners. After an extended hunger strike initiated by nearly 2,000 Palestinian detainees incarcerated in Israeli prisons, in May Israel eased restrictions instituted in response to the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. This included an end to solitary confinement of some prisoners, a resumption of family visits for prisoners from Gaza, and a limitation of administrative detention to six months. In July Israel began allowing visits from families in Gaza, a policy that had been in place since 1968 but suspended since 2007. Detainees were allowed religious observance. NGOs claimed there was a systematic failure to investigate abuse claims. The PCATI reported that despite more than 600 complaints it filed since 1999, not one torture complaint resulted in a criminal investigation, let alone a prosecution or conviction. This remained a pattern during the year. The PCATI reported the government regularly dismissed complaints of abuse following a primary examination by an ISA employee. NGOs reported investigations into IDF and police abuse were slow and ineffective but at times did lead to prosecution. ISA facilities were exempt from regular independent inspections.
Monitoring: The PA generally permitted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to detainees and allowed regular inspections of prison conditions in accordance with the ICRC’s standard modalities. Preliminary unpublished accounts by human rights groups, humanitarian organizations, and lawyers indicated that, as in previous years, there were some difficulties in gaining access to specific detainees, depending on which security organization managed the facility.
The ICRC conducted monitoring visits to some prisoners in the Gaza Strip, but Hamas authorities denied its representatives permission to visit high-profile detainees and prisoners.
The Israeli government permitted visits by independent human rights observers. The government permitted the ICRC to monitor prison conditions in accordance with its standard modalities. NGOs sent representatives to meet with prisoners and inspect conditions in prisons, detention centers, and IDF facilities, except ISA detention and interrogation facilities, since security prisoners and facilities remained inaccessible to independent monitors. Human rights groups reported delays and difficulties in gaining access to specific detainees and frequent transfers of detainees without notice.
Improvements: The PA undertook prison improvement efforts at various facilities. In the West Bank a new 152-bed prison was built in Jericho, and the renovated section of a 212-bed correction and rehabilitation center in Ramallah became operational in May. At the Dhahiriya Prison in Hebron District, authorities took steps to address overcrowding, such as moving some prisoners who slept in the recreation yard to more appropriate facilities. The PA Ministry of Interior also approved land for future prison construction in Jenin and Nuba. Redesign and construction of the new 312-bed facility in Nablus continued in an effort to bring it in line with international standards.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
Palestinian law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, in practice the PA failed to charge detainees promptly. Hamas also stated the PA repeatedly detained individuals during the year solely based on their Hamas affiliation, especially following several high-profile security sweeps.
Hamas reportedly practiced widespread arbitrary detention in the Gaza Strip, particularly against Fatah members, civil society activists, and others accused of publicly criticizing Hamas. International media reported Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal vowed to kidnap Israeli soldiers as a means of pressuring Israel to release Palestinian prisoners.
Israeli law provides safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention, but key safeguards do not apply to security detainees. Palestinian security detainees are subject to the jurisdiction of Israeli military law, which permits eight days’ detention before appearing before a military court. There is no requirement that a detainee have access to a lawyer until after interrogation, a process that may last weeks. The maximum period for such a detention order, according to military law, is 90 days; however, detention can be renewed if deemed necessary. Denial of visits by family, outside medical professionals, or others outside of the ISA, the IDF, or the prison service occurred. NGOs reported persons undergoing interrogations often were held incommunicado for several weeks.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The PA Basic Law provides every person the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and expression, orally, in writing, or through any other form. The PA does not have laws specifically providing for freedom of press; however, PA institutions applied aspects of a proposed 1995 press law as de facto law. In practice PA security forces in the West Bank and members of the Hamas security apparatus in the Gaza Strip continued to restrict freedom of speech and press. According to reports, the PA began to charge its critics with libel and slander reportedly based on a Jordanian law from the 1960s still in effect in the West Bank.
According to the Palestinian Center for Rights and Media Freedoms, Hamas security forces prevented Egyptian television correspondent Majed Shiblaq and his wife, journalist Hanan Abu Dgeem, from participating in a media conference in Cairo due to supposed lack of coordination with the journalists’ union in Gaza and a lack of Hamas representation in the delegation.
Israeli authorities placed limits on certain forms of expression in the occupied territories.
Freedom of Speech: Although there is no PA law prohibiting criticism of the government, there were news reports PA authorities arrested some journalists and bloggers who were critical of the PA and PA officials. In October there were reports authorities charged Jihad Harb, a Palestinian writer and political analyst, with libel and slander after he wrote an article that criticized PA President Abbas’ policy of promoting public employees. HRW reported in April that the PA arrested Palestinian journalists for comments they deemed defamatory.
In the Gaza Strip individuals publicly criticizing authorities risked reprisal by Hamas, including arrest, interrogation, seizure of property, and harassment. Civil society and youth activists, social media advocates, and individuals associated with political factions accused of criticizing Hamas in public fora such as the Internet faced punitive measures, including raids on their facilities and residences, arbitrary detention, and denial of permission to travel outside of Gaza. The ICHR reported the detention of numerous protesters in the Gaza Strip. There were reports authorities harassed activists working to raise awareness on sensitive social matters, such as the role of women and domestic violence.
In East Jerusalem, under Israeli authority, displays of Palestinian political symbols were punishable by fines or imprisonment, as were public expressions of anti-Israeli sentiment and support for terrorist groups. Israeli security officials regularly shut down meetings or conferences held in East Jerusalem affiliated with the PA or with PA officials in attendance.
In February Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli Ministry of Communications officials raided two Palestinian television stations, Wattan and al-Quds Educational, which the IDF claimed used unauthorized frequencies, confiscating computers, editing units, transmitters, servers, cameras, project documents, and financial records. At year’s end, the GOI continued to withhold much of the equipment despite a December statement by the Attorney General’s office that most of the equipment would be returned. NGO sources stated that most of the documents and equipment the IDF seized were not involved in the transmission of broadcasts, indicating the raids likely were used to intimidate and silence critics.
Freedom of Press: Across the occupied territories, independent media operated with some restrictions.
In the West Bank, the PA placed some restrictions on independent media as well as official media. The PA maintained a distribution ban in the West Bank on the twice-weekly pro-Hamas al-Risala and the Filistin daily newspapers, both Gaza-based publications. Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV reportedly enjoyed some degree of access to work in the West Bank without harassment.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas restricted independent media, especially for non-Hamas-affiliated press and media outlets. HRW reported Hamas continued to ban in Gaza three newspapers printed in the West Bank. Israel restricted the mainstream pro-PA dailies, independent al-Quds (based in Jerusalem), independent pro-Fatah al-Ayyam, and PA official daily al-Hayat al-Jadida (the latter two based in the West Bank), from importation into the Gaza Strip. Hamas authorities tolerated the broadcast of reporting and interviews featuring officials from the PA locally. Hamas allowed, with some restrictions, the operation of non-Hamas-affiliated broadcast media in the Gaza Strip. The PA-supported Palestine TV reportedly enjoyed access to operate in the Gaza Strip.
In East Jerusalem independent media were able to operate. As a general rule, Israeli media were able to cover the occupied territories, except for combat zones where the IDF temporarily restricted access. However, closures, curfews, and checkpoints limited the ability of Palestinian and foreign journalists to do their jobs (see section 2.d.). Israel revoked the press credentials of the majority of Palestinian journalists during the Second Intifada in 2000. As a result most Palestinian journalists were unable to cover stories outside Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank.
Violence and Harassment: PA security forces reportedly harassed, detained (occasionally with violence), prosecuted, and fined journalists several times during the year.
In March the PA’s Intelligence Service detained and questioned Useid Amarneh, a cameraman for the Gaza-based Al-Aqsa TV (affiliated with Hamas) in Bethlehem.
On September 18, the PA Preventive Security Service arrested Walid Khalid, a senior correspondent for Felesteen newspaper (a Gaza-based, Hamas-affiliated daily) in the West Bank. The PA Preventive Security Services arrested Khalid two weeks after release from his 17-year imprisonment in an Israeli prison. Initially, he was not interrogated or charged while detained. He eventually was charged with possession of a weapon and being a member of a militia. He was released with a conditional fine and ordered to appear in court for a decision on his case. There were no further developments in his case by year’s end.
On September 23, the PA Preventive Security Service arrested Mohammed Mona, a reporter for Quds Press (a pro-Hamas news agency based in London with offices in Gaza). He was still in detention at year’s end.
In the Gaza Strip, journalists faced arrest, harassment, and other pressure from Hamas due to their reporting. There were reports Hamas also summoned journalists for questioning in an attempt to intimidate them. Hamas also constrained journalists’ freedom of movement during the year, attempting to ban access to some official buildings, as well as several prodemocracy protests.
On September 25, members of Hamas Internal Security severely beat cameraman Ismail Alibdh, who was filming a burning house. Although he stopped filming when asked, they detained and beat him, releasing him after an hour. Threats were received by radio stations covering the burning house, in which a child perished.
Palestinian journalists claimed Israeli authorities routinely harassed them when trying to report in Israeli-controlled areas. There were also reports of Israeli authorities detaining, assaulting, or intimidating journalists. In various incidents Israeli forces subsequently raided those journalists’ homes.
Soldiers raid the house of Baha Khayri Ata Musain, Mirka village, and ‘confiscate’ the station’s broadcasting equipment.
Soldiers confiscated the TV station’s broadcasting equipment from Musa’s home, preventing the channel from being able to continue its coverage, Qassem said.
For example, Israeli forces arrested Bahaa Khairi Moussa, director general of the Palestinian Al-Asir (Prisoner) Channel, in Jenin on May 17. Israeli forces thoroughly searched his house and confiscated the station’s transmission equipment. Mousa later was released, and the station resumed partial transmission using less powerful backup equipment.
In July Israeli security agents singled out four Palestinian journalists trying to cover a visiting foreign diplomat’s press conference in Jerusalem and made them undergo strip searches. Israeli and international journalists were not subjected to such searches. A subsequent group of invited Palestinian journalists opted not to cover the event when Israeli security forces informed them they also would have to undergo a strip search.
HRW reported that during the November Operation Pillar of Defense, Israeli forces unlawfully targeted journalists and media facilities. Those targeted were not directly involved in the hostilities. Israeli forces killed two cameramen, injured 10 media workers, and damaged multiple facilities.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: The PA prohibits calls for violence, displays of arms, and racist slogans in PA-funded and controlled official media. Media throughout the occupied territories practiced self-censorship. There were no confirmed reports of any legal action against, or prosecution of, any person publishing items counter to these PA guidelines.
Civil society organizations reported Hamas censored television programs and written content, such as newspapers and books.
There were no reports the Israeli government monitored the media in the occupied territories. Israeli authorities retain the right to review and approve in advance the printing of all Jerusalem-based Arabic publications for material perceived as a security threat. Anecdotal evidence suggested Israeli authorities did not actively review the Jerusalem-based al-Quds newspaper or other Jerusalem-based Arabic publications. Jerusalem-based publications reported that, based on previous experiences with Israeli censorship, over time they came to know what was acceptable and self-censored publications accordingly.
Libel Laws/National Security: There were instances in which slander and libel laws were used to suppress criticism. According to HRW, in April PA security forces arrested Yusuf al-Shayeb and investigated him for libel after he wrote an article in AlGhad, a Jordanian newspaper, reporting on alleged corruption within the Palestinian foreign ministry mission to France and claiming the mission was spying on other Muslim nations.
There were no known reports Hamas used security justifications or slander or libel laws to censure public criticism.
There were no known reports Israeli authorities used security justifications or slander or libel laws to censure public criticism.
There were no PA restrictions on access to the Internet; however, there were reports that the PA, Hamas, and Israel monitored e-mail and Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could generally engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that, between February and April, the PA blocked access to eight news Web sites. The blocked Web sites were critical of President Abbas. The report stated the order to block the outlets came from Ahmad al-Mughni, the Palestinian attorney general. These sites were soon unblocked after domestic and international criticism.
In January the Palestinian Security Services arrested Rami Samara, news editor with WAFA news agency and Ajyal Radio in Ramallah. He was released after being questioned for three hours about writings on his personal Facebook page. Sameeh Shayeb subsequently was questioned after posting comments in support of Samara on his Facebook page. Both men were released without charge.
In April the PA’s Preventive Security Service arrested Palestinian blogger Jamal Abu Rihan and accused him of “slander of a public figure.” The arrest took place after Abu Rihan started a Facebook page entitled, “People Want to End Corruption.”
Based on anecdotal reports from Palestinian civil society organizations and social media practitioners, Hamas authorities monitored Internet activities and postings of Gaza Strip residents. Individuals posting negative reports or commentary about Hamas, its policies, or affiliated organizations faced questioning, and authorities at times required them to remove or modify online postings. No information was available regarding punishment for not complying with such demands.
On March 26, Hamas Intelligence Services summoned the editor in chief of the Jozour news Web site in Gaza and forced him to sign an affidavit stating he would abide by all instructions and guidelines issued by Hamas related to his work as a journalist. They told him if he refused to sign he would be subject to up to six months in jail.
On August 23, Hamas Internal Security agents arrested Saher Al-Aqraa, editor in chief of Al-Shola news Web site, a Gaza-based anti-Hamas electronic newspaper. Al-Aqraa was released on August 30 after reportedly being subjected to various forms of torture in an attempt to force him to close down his Web site.
In early September Hamas passed a law outlawing pornographic Web sites. All Internet providers must block access to pornographic Web sites or face a shutdown. Restrictions also applied to sites calling for equal roles for men and women.
Israeli authorities did not restrict access to the Internet; however, they monitored some Internet activity.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
In the West Bank the PA did not place restrictions on academic freedom, and there were no known reports of PA censorship of school curricula or plays, films, or exhibits in the West Bank. During the year, the PA did not interfere with education; however, restrictions on movement adversely affected academic institutions and access to education in the West Bank, as Israeli checkpoints, although they decreased in number, created difficulties for students and faculty commuting to university campuses (see section 2.d.). While there was no overt threat to academic freedom, faculty members were aware of security elements’ presence on university campuses among the student body and faculty, which may have led to self-censorship.
Everyday life for Palestinians: queuing at another militaray checkpoint. Photo by alliance/landov
Public and UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East schools in Gaza followed the same curriculum as West Bank schools, and there was limited interference by Hamas at the primary and secondary level. At the university level there were no known reports of significant interference in teaching or studying.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas authorities sought to disrupt some educational, cultural, and international exchange programs. Hamas prevented high school students from the Gaza Strip from participating in certain cultural and educational exchange programs, including programs sponsored by foreign governments and international organizations. Several students on one foreign exchange program faced difficulty when traveling out of Gaza to obtain visas for onward travel abroad. In some instances, families of the students petitioned Hamas’ ministry of education so that their children could travel. There were reports women and girls faced pressure from the authorities for participating in international academic events.
News outlets reported Hamas positioned its rocket launch sites adjacent to schools, playgrounds, and hospitals, leading Israel to target those launch sites and thereby put nearby innocents at risk.
Hamas authorities interfered in local cultural programs. For example, there were continued reports the de facto government continued to crack down on cultural expression that might offend local religious and cultural values, including significant pressure on women’s participation in events.
Palestinians in Gaza must obtain express permission from the Hamas ministry of culture in order to organize events that might be deemed cultural. The Hamas-controlled Palestine Times reported in September the minister of culture signed a memorandum of cultural cooperation with Iran to build a new museum to commemorate the “resistance” against Israel and collaborate on a number of cultural activities.
In May Hamas shut down the Palestinian Festival of Literature because some of the dialogue was viewed as anti-Hamas.
The Israeli Supreme Court upheld the 2000 Israeli ban on students from the Gaza Strip attending West Bank universities; only three students, who began their studies in 2010 under foreign government scholarships, continued to receive permission during the year. The three students all faced delays in processing their permits, which they were required to do every three months. In general students in the Gaza Strip did not apply to West Bank universities because they understood that Israel would deny permit requests.
On October 8, there were reports Israeli police shut down a Palestinian school with more than 1,200 students between the ages of 12 and 18 in East Jerusalem for a period of one week. The police claimed the closure came as a result of suspicions children from the school threw stones in the nearby At-Tur neighborhood, injuring an Israeli settler. However, school authorities asserted no stones were thrown from school grounds and that the school bans such activities; they characterized the school closure as a form of collective punishment.
During the November Operation Pillar of Defense, Israeli bombs rendered a school in the Gaza Strip unusable.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of Assembly
Palestinian law permits public meetings, processions, and assemblies within legal limits. It requires permits for rallies, demonstrations, and large cultural events, and the PA rarely denied them. However, both the PA and Hamas forces attempted to break up selected protests and demonstrations during the year. Following two Hamas rallies in the West Bank in December that disbanded without incident, the PA and Hamas agreed to ease the five-year ban on rallies. Hamas agreed to allow Fatah to hold a rally in the Gaza Strip.
On June 30, Palestinian youth protested planned negotiations with Shaul Mofaz, an Israeli politician. On July 1, Palestinian demonstrators protested police violence that occurred on the previous day. On June 30 and July 1, according to HRW, PA police officers beat protesters, resulting in at least six hospitalizations. HRW reported the PA did not take action to prosecute police officials responsible for the beatings.
According to a Hamas decree, any public assembly or celebration in the Gaza Strip requires prior permission, in contradiction of the PA Basic Law. Generally, Hamas did not permit Fatah members to hold rallies. Activists reported Hamas officials harassed women in public and impeded their ability to assemble peacefully.
Hamas officials also attempted to impede potential criticism of Hamas policies by imposing arbitrary demands for the approval of meetings on political or social topics.
The IDF continued its use of a 1967 military order that effectively prohibited Palestinian demonstrations and limited freedom of speech in the West Bank. The order stipulates that a “political” gathering of 10 or more persons requires a permit from the regional commander of military forces. The penalty for a breach of the order is 10 years’ imprisonment or a heavy fine.
Various NGOs noted the IDF demonstrated a lack of respect for freedom of assembly and often met demonstrators with an aggressive response. Israeli security forces used force against Palestinians and others involved in demonstrations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, killing three protesters during the year (see section 1.a.). The IDF used force particularly against weekly protests against the construction of the separation barrier. The IDF responded to protests with military crowd-control techniques or force, using weapons such as tear gas and stun grenades to push back protesters.
The IDF Central Command maintained its designation of areas adjacent to the separation barrier in the villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin as “closed military areas” every Friday during the hours in which Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists regularly demonstrated. There were frequent skirmishes between the antiseparation barrier protesters and IDF personnel. IDF and Israeli police personnel stationed on the far side of the barrier during weekly protests in those villages responded to rock throwing with tear gas, stun grenades, sound bombs, and rubber-coated bullets. Some citizen journalists claimed the IDF’s launching of tear gas canisters into crowds at high speeds in effect made the canister a weapon. There were reports of at least two persons hit in the neck and face by tear gas canisters during the year.
Three protesters were killed during the year. For example, on February 24, a Palestinian protester, Talat Ramia, died after being shot during protests at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank. Ramia fired a firecracker toward the checkpoint; IDF soldiers, who reportedly did not know it was a firecracker, responded with live fire. In another incident, during a March 30 protest near Erez Crossing, IDF personnel shot and killed a protester after he ignored calls to stop approaching the checkpoint.
On April 14, IDF Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner hit a Danish pro-Palestinian activist in the face with his gun. Eisner later was dismissed from his position and made ineligible to serve in a command position for two years.
In May Haaretz reported that the commander of the IPS Masada unit testified during the trial for assault of Mohammed Barakeh that undercover Israeli soldiers hurled rocks at IDF soldiers to justify arrests and more severe crowd dispersal techniques.
The ACRI continued to report arbitrary restrictions on the freedom of assembly in East Jerusalem, including the use of unlawful arrests to intimidate demonstrators. In one example, municipal authorities required antisettlement demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah to apply for permits to hold demonstrations.
Freedom of Association
In the West Bank the PA law allowed for freedom of association, but it was sometimes limited in practice.
Palestinian media reported in May that a special committee created to look into the legal status of the Union of Public Employees determined the union was illegal because it was not properly registered.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas attempted to prevent various organizations from operating, including some it accused of being Fatah-affiliated, as well as private businesses and NGOs it deemed to be in violation of its interpretation of Islamic social norms. In April Hamas de facto authorities gave the Hamas ministry of interior supervisory powers over all NGOs, allowing the ministry to request documents, and giving it the authority to shut down NGOs that did not comply. Activists reported women’s rights groups faced significant pressure from Hamas.
Israel maintained prohibitions on some prominent East Jerusalem-based Palestinian institutions, such as the Orient House and the de facto PLO office in Jerusalem, claiming the groups violated the Oslo Accords by operating on behalf of the PA in Jerusalem.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The PA Basic Law provides for freedom of movement, and the PA generally did not restrict freedom of movement. The Basic Law does not specify regulations regarding foreign travel, emigration, or repatriation.
Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip restricted some foreign travel. Hamas also prevented the exit of some Palestinians from Gaza as a means to protest the purpose of their travel or coerce a behavior change, such as the payment of taxes and fines. There were some reports unmarried women faced restrictions on their travel.
The IDF restricted Palestinians’ movement within the occupied territories and for foreign travel, and, citing military necessity, it increased these restrictions at times. Barriers to movement included checkpoints, a separation barrier between the West Bank and Israel, internal road closures, and restrictions on the entry of persons and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip. Restrictions on movement affected virtually all aspects of life, including access to places of worship, employment, agricultural lands, schools, and hospitals, as well as the conduct of journalistic, humanitarian, and NGO activities. For example, during the November clashes and for the following week, Israel prevented agricultural exports from the Gaza Strip. During the week of fighting, a crossing was open to importation of goods only on two of the scheduled five days.
In November Israel eased the naval blockade off the coast of the Gaza Strip, moving it from three miles to six nautical miles, the pre-2009 distance from shore. Fishermen who moved beyond the six-mile mark were towed to Israeli ports and detained.
The PA, Hamas, and Israeli governments generally cooperated with the UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees; however, both Hamas and Israeli officials constrained the UNRWA’s ability to operate freely in Gaza.
In-Country Movement: PA authorities did not interfere with movement within the West Bank.
Hamas authorities did not appear to enforce routine restrictions on internal movement within the Gaza Strip, although there were some “no go” areas to which Hamas prohibited access. Increasing pressure to conform to Hamas’ interpretation of Islamic norms led to significant restrictions on movement by women.
According to OCHA, as of August the Israeli government maintained more than 521 obstacles to movement inside the West Bank. For example, three roadblocks south of Hebron impeded movement for tens of thousands of residents of Palestinian villages, cutting direct access for businesses to the city’s commercial center. While there was some lifting of permanent checkpoints in recent years, Israeli authorities frequently prohibited travel between some or all West Bank towns and deployed “flying” (temporary) checkpoints. Palestinians who lived in affected villages stated such “internal closures” continued to have negative economic effects. During periods of potential unrest and some major Israeli, Jewish, and Muslim holidays, Israeli authorities enacted “comprehensive external closures,” which precluded Palestinians from leaving the West Bank. The IDF also imposed temporary curfews confining Palestinians to their homes during arrest operations.
The Israeli government continued construction of the separation barrier, which ran along parts of the Green Line (the 1949 Armistice line) and inside the West Bank. By use of special permits, Israel continued to restrict movement and development within this area, including access by some international organizations. NGOs reported many Palestinians separated from their land were allowed access to their property only a few days each year. Private security companies employed by the Israeli government controlled points of access through the barrier, and international organizations and local human rights groups claimed these companies did not respond to requests to move goods and officials through the barrier. The barrier affected the commute of children to school in Jerusalem and some farmers’ access to land and water resources. Palestinian farmers continued to report difficulty accessing their lands in Israeli-controlled Area C and in the seam zone, the closed area between the separation barrier and the Green Line.
Israel eased restrictions on access to farmland in the Gaza Strip near the boundary with Israel and to fishing areas along the coast. After Israeli Operation Pillar of Defense, there were reports farmers could farm some lands within the declared “buffer zone” 300 meters (328 yards) from the separation fence, which were previously inaccessible. Despite this easing, reports indicated Israel continued to enforce “buffer zone” restrictions on nonfarmers. The “buffer zone” encompassed approximately 24 square miles, representing 17 percent of the Gaza Strip’s total territory. OCHA estimated nearly 35 percent of the Gaza Strip’s cultivable land was located within the restricted area.
Gaza’s fishing waters were partially inaccessible to Palestinians due to Israeli restrictions, but beginning in November Israel eased restrictions on fishing along the coast by allowing fishermen to venture out to six nautical miles, instead of the previous limit of three nautical miles. Israeli naval patrol boats strictly enforced this fishing limit, which was still a reduction from 20 nautical miles, as designated under the 1994 Agreement on the Gaza Strip and Jericho Area (later incorporated into the 1995 Interim Agreement). Israeli naval forces regularly fired warning shots at Palestinian fishermen entering the restricted sea areas, in some cases directly targeting the fishermen, according to OCHA. The Israeli military often confiscated fishing boats intercepted in these areas and detained the fishermen, while Palestinian fishermen reported confusion over the exact limits of the new fishing boundaries.
There were reports Israeli authorities attempted to reduce the number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and limit their movement in areas under Israeli control. Military authorities severely restricted Palestinian vehicular and foot traffic in the commercial center of Hebron, citing a need to protect several hundred Israeli settler residents. Palestinians were prohibited from driving on most roads in downtown Hebron and from walking on Shuhada Street and other roads in the Old City; however, Israeli settlers were permitted free access to these roads. The prohibition, which began in 2000, had resulted in the closure of 1,829 businesses and 1,014 Palestinian housing units, according to B’Tselem; the IDF closed most shops on the street and sealed entrances to Palestinian houses. Demolition orders in and around Hebron also threatened single buildings, family homes, and other civilian structures; in some cases entire villages such as Dkaika, southeast of Hebron, were subject to ongoing demolition orders.
Foreign Travel: PA authorities did not limit residents’ foreign travel.
Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip enforced movement restrictions on Palestinians attempting to exit Gaza to Israel via the Erez Crossing and to Egypt via the Rafah Crossing. They occasionally prevented Fatah members and youth activists from exiting through either crossing.
During the year, Israel partially eased the severe restrictions on movement and access for the Gaza Strip imposed following Hamas’ rise to power in 2007, first by updating the list of banned items in November and then by allowing gravel to enter Gaza in December. Categories of individuals permitted to enter or exit the Gaza Strip at the Erez Crossing with Israel were largely limited to humanitarian cases; however, the Israeli government also continued to permit businesspersons to cross during the year. According to the World Health Organization, the approval rate for exit requests based on medical need during the year was 85.1 percent from January through November, which was comparable to 2010 and 2011, when approval rates were 77.1 percent and 89.3 percent, respectively. The total numbers of medical patients crossing at Erez averaged 671 per month during the year, in comparison with 757 and 938 per month in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Israel allowed for increased movement through Erez for business purposes by increasing the number of business travelers granted permits from 500 in 2011 to 1,000 by August, while also allowing 120 business travelers to cross each day, up from100 in 2011.
Restricted access to East Jerusalem had a negative impact on patients and medical staff trying to reach the six Palestinian hospitals there that offered specialized care unavailable in the West Bank. IDF soldiers at checkpoints subjected Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulances from the West Bank to harassment and delays, or refused entry into Jerusalem even in emergency cases. When ambulances lacked access, medics moved patients across checkpoints from an ambulance on one side to a second ambulance (usually one of five East Jerusalem-based ambulances) or a private vehicle on the other side. The PRCS reported hundreds of violations against its teams and humanitarian services during the year. Most incidents included blocking access to those in need, preventing their transport to specialized medical centers, or maintaining delays on checkpoints for periods sometimes lasting up to two hours. Most incidents took place at the Qalandiyah and Az-’Za’ayyem checkpoints leading to East Jerusalem, while the remainder took place at other checkpoints circling the West Bank.
The IDF restricted students in the Gaza Strip from studying in the West Bank or Israel and limited West Bank Palestinians from university study in East Jerusalem and Israel (see section 2.a.). Palestinians possessing Jerusalem identity cards issued by the Israeli government needed special documents to travel abroad. Upon individual requests by Palestinians, the Jordanian government issued them passports.
Residency restrictions affected family reunification, which did not qualify as a reason to enter the West Bank. For a child in the Gaza Strip, for example, access to a parent in the West Bank was permitted only if no other relative was resident in the Gaza Strip. Israeli authorities did not permit Palestinians who were abroad during the 1967 War, or whose residence permits the Israeli government subsequently withdrew, to reside permanently in the occupied territories. It was difficult for foreign-born spouses and children of Palestinians to obtain residency. Palestinian spouses of Jerusalem residents were required to obtain a residency permit and reported delays of several years in obtaining them.
Exile: Neither the PA nor Hamas used forced exile.
Continued Israeli revocations of Jerusalem identity cards amounted to forced exile to the occupied territories or abroad. According to HaMoked, an Israeli human rights organization , the Israeli Ministry of Interior renewed “temporary” orders authorizing the revocation of Jerusalem residency rights from legal residents. According to the ACRI, authorities revoked 7,268 identity cards between 2008 and 2011, which NGOs reported was a large increase from previous periods. According to data from the Ministry of Interior, in 2011 Israel revoked the residency permits of 101 East Jerusalem Palestinians, including 51 women and 20 minors, and reinstated the residency of 31 East Jerusalem Palestinians. The Ministry of Interior reportedly cited computerization and greater efficiency in checking residents’ status as the reason for the increase. Reasons for revocation included having acquired residency or citizenship in another country, living “abroad” (including in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip) for more than seven years, or most commonly being unable to prove a “center of life,” interpreted as full-time residency, in Jerusalem. Some Palestinians born in Jerusalem but who studied abroad reported losing their Jerusalem residency status.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
Although IDPs were not centrally or systematically registered, the Unified Shelter Sector Database estimated there were 8,056 IDPs in the Gaza Strip who remained displaced as a result of Operation Cast Lead, launched late in 2008, and that more than 2,000 persons remained displaced from earlier operations. OCHA estimated house demolitions during the year displaced 886 individuals in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. NGOs and UN agencies reported at least 382 residential buildings were destroyed or sustained major damage during the November Operation Pillar of Defense, resulting in the displacement of 2,439 persons. According to the UNRWA, at least 12,000 were displaced temporarily during the operation.
Although there is no specific legislation to protect IDPs in accordance with UN principles and guidelines, the PA provided some assistance to those displaced through rental subsidies and financial assistance to reconstruct demolished houses. The UNRWA and humanitarian organizations provided services to aid IDPs in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with some limitations due to Israeli restrictions on movement and border access. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas authorities pressed international and local aid organizations providing emergency assistance to coordinate relief efforts with the Hamas ministry of social affairs. Several Gaza-based NGOs reported Hamas prevented aid groups from distributing assistance after they refused to comply with Hamas regulations. Israel did not provide any assistance to those displaced.