Posts Tagged ‘Israeli-occupied territories’

Human rights lawyer Felicia Langer died on 21 June 2018

June 24, 2018

Felicia Langer (born 9 December 1930 ) died on 21 June 2018. She was a German-Israeli attorney and human rights defender known for her defence of Palestinian political prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She authored several books alleging human rights violations on the part of Israeli authorities. She lived in Germany from 1990 and acquired German citizenship in 2008.In her writings, lectures and interviews she criticized the Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, which she considered equivalent to an annexation. Langer furthermore considered the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as undermining the possibility of a two-state solution and demands the complete and unconditional retreat of Israel from the territories conquered in 1967 and a right to return for any descendant of the Palestinian refugees. In 1990, Langer received the Right Livelihood Award ” for the exemplary courage of her struggle for the basic rights of the Palestinian people.” In 1991, she was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Award. In July 2009, President of Germany awarded her the Federal Cross of Merit. The bestowal triggered a public controversy because of her attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For more on human rights awards see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/

 on 23 June wrote in an Op ED in EurAsia Review Felicia Langer is highly respected and revered by the Palestinians like no other Israeli-German citizen. Only Yasser Arafat is more adored. Both the Palestinian Authority and the city of Tübingen, where she lived in exile, should set up a memorial place for this great German-Israeli woman…Felicia Langer is one of the few outstanding Israeli-German personalities who have sacrificed themselves to the legitimate concerns of the Palestinian people to the last breath, and whose memory should remember by all three peoples. Their tireless commitment to Palestinian justice and human rights should always be considered an inspiration and a societal obligation to their political actions.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felicia_Langer

https://www.eurasiareview.com/23062018-german-israeli-human-rights-lawyer-felicia-langer-passes-away-oped/

“Breaking the Silence” received Danish Poul Lauritzen award

March 2, 2017

The banquet hall at the National Museum in Copenhagen played host to the presentation of the PL Foundation Freedom Award on 12 December 2016, an annual prize given in honour of a Danish resistance fighter that recognises the exercise of human rights in an extraordinary manner. The winner was Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organisation that collects and shares testimonies (some anonymous) from soldiers who have served in the West Bank and Gaza – over a thousand at the last count. “Breaking the Silence shows great personal courage to talk about their own experience in the West Bank” commented the PL Foundation, named after the Danish resistance fighter Poul Lauritzen. Previous winners include Turkish publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and Turkish playwright Ali Tuygan. One of Breaking the Silence’s co founders, Yehuda Shaul, 33, along with spokesperson Achiya Schatz, appeared in person to receive the award, which included a prize of 100,000 kroner, from Poul Søgaard, a leading judge at the Supreme Court.

Founded in 2004, Breaking the Silence initially published the testimonies of the soldiers in an art gallery in Tel Aviv. Today, it publishes them in booklets and articles and shares them in lectures and guided tours of cities like Hebron in the West Bank.

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Achiya Schatz in front of the testimonies at the Breaking the Silence office in Tel Aviv. (all photos: Cornelia Mikaelsson)

Banned by the Israeli authorities from speaking to soldiers or schoolchildren, Breaking the Silence has been accused of spreading mistruths and of betraying the Israeli military. Threats are an occupational hazard. “To remain silent is no longer an option,” explains Achiya Schatz, 31, who did his national service in the Israeli army from 2005-08. Schatz recalls that many of his missions to search Palestinian residences were pointless – commanding officers would throw away the gathered intelligence without reading it. “After completing my service I got time to think. One question led to another and all of a sudden I asked myself: how can you ever occupy morally?”
Over half of Breaking the Silence’s funding comes from abroad (7 million kroner in 2014 alone) and one of its biggest supporters is Danish – Dan Church Aid, the humanitarian NGO. And this has led to extra suspicion in Israel. Earlier this year, the Israeli government passed a transparency bill forcing NGOs that receive more than half of their funding from foreign sources to declare them openly. Those who voted for the bill claimed that it served a democratic purpose. Critics, however, argued that it only was an attempt to target NGOs critical of Israel’s governmental policies. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu wrote a statement on his Facebook page, claiming that the bill aims to “prevent an absurd situation, in which foreign states meddle in Israel’s internal affairs by funding NGOs, without the Israeli public being aware of it”. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/05/michael-sfardjan-israels-human-rights-activists-arent-traitors/]

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Ido Even-Paz, one of the guides on the Breaking the Silence tour of Hebron

Source: Former Israeli soldiers pick up Danish freedom award in Copenhagen – The Post

Palestinian human rights defenders continue to be persecuted

December 21, 2016

Sources:

Amnesty slams Israel’s detention of Palestinian human rights defender – Middle East Monitor

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-threatens-expel-reporter-who-asked-apartheid-question

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-palumboliu/israel-puts-celebrated-_b_13590812.html

http://ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21041&LangID=E

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16906&LangID=E

Shackled Freedoms : what space for human rights defenders in the EuroMed?

September 7, 2016

 

cover-en-shackled-freedomThe recent report SHACKLED FREEDOMS : WHAT SPACE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE EUROMED? depicts the obstacles and repression against civil society in the region and showcases first-hand accounts from Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories among others. The report also features recommendations by CSOs for joint action and seeks to influence EU policies to that effect. The report also focuses on the impact of security and anti-terrorist policies and lists the growing arsenal of repressive measures – both in law and practice – that civil society organizations (CSOs) face on a daily basis: judicial harassment, surveillance, arbitrary arrests, torture and assassination.

Despite legal safeguards and the human rights “shared values” rhetoric in the EU, EuroMed Rights argues that European civil society is under increasing pressure. Austerity measures and anti-terrorism laws are increasingly used to legitimise practices that go against individual freedoms and rights of assembly, association and expression, such as in France, Spain or the UK, for instance. The report – published on 7 September 2016 – is the result of a seminar organised in April 2016 as an open dialogue between EU representatives, South Mediterranean activists and Brussels-based CSOs.

 DOWNLOAD THE REPORT


 

Source: Shackled Freedoms : What Space for Civil Society in the EuroMed? – EuroMed Rights – Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

Violence in the occupied territories keeps HRDs busy

February 13, 2016

Israel has used excessive force against Palestinians, Makarim Wibisono, the outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Gaza and the West Bank said, calling for an investigation. He demanded that all Palestinian prisoners, including children, be charged or released. “The upsurge in violence is a grim reminder of the unsustainable human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the volatile environment it engenders”.  Makarim Wibisono has announced he is resigning in protest at the Israeli government’s response to his concerns (his term would have expired on 31 March). The special investigator quoted statistics by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which say that about 5,680 Palestinians, including children, were detained by Israel as of the end of October 2015. Detaining these people “often under secret evidence, and for up to six-month terms that can be renewed indefinitely, is not consistent with international human rights standards,” Wibisono said, adding that the Israeli government “should promptly charge or release all administrative detainees.” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon branded Wibisono’s report as biased. “The report reflects the one-sidedness of the mandate and its flagrant anti-Israel bias. It is this one-sidedness which has made the rapporteur’s mission impossible to fulfill, hence his resignation,” he said.

Front Line reports that on 3 February 2016, human rights defender Mr Awni Abu Shamsiyya, son of human rights defender Mr Emad Abu Shamsiyya, was arrested alongside youth activist Mr Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi. The arrest took place after a raid on the Shamsiyya family home in Tel-Rumeida, Hebron. Awni Abu Shamsiyya and Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi were accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at Israeli soldiers and of posting inflammatory statements on Facebook. [Awni Abu Shamsiyya is a 16 year old, known for his participation in the Palestinian non-violent popular resistance movement in Hebron. He is also an active member of the Human Rights Defenders Group, a non-partisan group that aims to document and expose violations of international law and injustice against families in areas of conflict under Israeli occupation. His father, Emad Abu Shamsiyya, is a long-standing activist in Palestine and volunteer at B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, where he is involved in documenting the occupation of Tel-Rumeida. He is also a deputy coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders Group.In May 2015, Emad Abu Shamsiyya’s family home was subjected to an attempted arson attack by settlers in the middle of the night. In March 2015, a group of soldiers invaded  his family home, searched the house and confiscated the family’s computer hard disk and a memory card containing footage filmed by  B’Tselem volunteers. Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - croppedhttp://www.btselem.org/hebron/20150402_night_search_and_confiscation]

On 4 February 2016, Awni Abu Shamsiyya and Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi were interrogated by Israeli police and intelligence services before being brought before the military court of Ofer, where the accusations against the young activists of throwing a Molotov cocktail at Israeli soldiers and posting inflammatory statements on social media were presented, and a fine of appr €460 was requested by the military prosecutor. The court ordered Awni Abu Shamsiyya’s release after holding that the accusations against him had not been proven, however, the trial of Nizar Silhab Al-tamimi was postponed to 7 February 2016 after it was claimed by the military prosecutor that his confession had been obtained.

 

As an illustration of the context in which the violence and arrests occur see the report of Tuesday, 9 February 2016, by the International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team (Hebron), which published graphic pictures of Israeli forces patrolling the Palestinian market in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), harassing and intimidating residents.

Israeli forces ontheir patrol through the Palestinian market

Israeli forces on their patrol through the Palestinian market

Any male adult or youth was stopped on their way to work and forced by the Israeli soldiers to lift up their shirts and trouser-pants, as well as throw their IDs on the ground. After throwing their IDs on the ground Israeli soldiers ordered the men to move back, so they could pick up the IDs from a ‘safe distance’. Most Palestinians were dismissed after this humiliating procedure, whereas some of them were detained for minutes or violently body-searched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also interesting to note here the protest by Palestinian human rights defenders who are condemning the killing by Hamas of one of the resistance organization’s own members in Gaza. On Sunday, the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, announced it had executed Mahmoud Rushdi Ishteiwi. Qassam said that the slaying of Ishteiwi implemented a death sentence issued by “the military and Sharia judiciaries of Qassam Brigades for behavioral and moral excesses that he confessed.”

Killing Ishteiwi in such a way constitutes an assault on the rule of law and might institutionalize a serious case of extrajudicial execution,” said the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). “Prosecuting collaborators with the Israeli forces is necessary, and the Palestinian armed groups play an important role in such prosecution,” PCHR stated. “However, only official authorities should open investigations and hold the perpetrators to account.” Following news of Mahmoud Ishteiwi’s execution, Buthaina Ishteiwi told the Wattan news outlet that she believed her brother had been killed due to a dispute with his superiors.

[Under the laws of the Palestinian Authority, death sentences issued by courts can only be carried out after ratification by the PA president. The West Bank-based PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has not ratified any death sentences in a decade. Hamas has however continued the use of the death penalty in Gaza. According to PCHR, a total of 172 death sentences have been issued since the PA was established in 1994, of which 30 were in the West Bank and 142 in Gaza. Eighty-four death sentences were issued since Hamas took over in Gaza in 2007. But however serious the threat from informants, Palestinian human rights defenders have been adamant that even wartime collaboration must be dealt with according to the rule of law. Both PCHR and Al Mezan have moreover long advocated the total abolition of the death penalty in all cases. In a short film entitled “Against the Death Penalty” and released in December, PCHR highlights its campaign to end the practice once and for all.]

https://www.rt.com/news/332245-israel-excessive-force-palestine/

Source: Palestinian human rights defenders condemn execution by Hamas | The Electronic Intifada

http://palsolidarity.org/2016/02/intimidating-military-patrol-of-palestinian-market/

UN Rapporteurs urge end to harassment of human rights defenders in Occupied Palestinian Territory

December 19, 2015

 

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst. Photo: MINUSTAH

Gravely concerned at continued reports that human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in Hebron, are being subjected to physical attacks and death threats, United Nations independent experts denounced on 18 December 2015 such harassment as “unacceptable” and called for it to end immediately. Human rights defenders have been subjected to physical attacks, harassment, arrest and detention, and death threats, in an apparent bid by Israeli authorities and settler elements to stop their peaceful and important work.

Amidst a charged and violent atmosphere over past months in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Palestinian and international defenders are providing a ‘protective presence’ for Palestinians at risk of violence, and documenting human rights violations,” said UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst.

Earlier this month, a group of UN human rights experts urged the Israeli Government to ensure a protective environment where human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory can work without unlawful restriction and without fear of retaliatory acts.

We recently addressed concerns to the Israeli Government regarding retaliatory acts by Israeli authorities against members of one organisation based in Hebron, Youth Against Settlements, after its Centre was subjected to raids and settlers allegedly called for it to be closed,” noted the UN Special Rapporteur the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Makarim Wibisono. He noted that the Centre has now effectively been shut down as a result of the Israeli military declaring the surrounding area a military zone. “We urge Israeli authorities to lift this military order”.


Source: United Nations News Centre – UN experts urge end to harassment of human rights defenders in Occupied Palestinian Territory

Alkarama award ceremony for Palestinian human rights defender Shireen Issawi on 11 December

December 1, 2014

Palestinian Lawyer Shireen Issawi to Receive 2014 Alkarama Award for Human Rights Defenders

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the Geneva-based NGO Alkarama will present the 2014 Alkarama Award for Human Rights Defenders to Shireen Issawi, prominent lawyer and human rights defender from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The event will be held on 11 December 2014 at 18:30 at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva (Switzerland).

B’Tselem awarded the 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award

September 14, 2014

The Israeli group of human rights defenders, B’Tselem, has been awarded the 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award by the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the Swedish Bar Association and the International Bar Association [for more information on the Stockholm Human Rights Award see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/stockholm-human-rights-award].

The press release of 14 September states: “Promoting human rights standards from inside one’s country requires an unwavering willingness to endure criticism from within, regardless of potential repercussions. Maintaining integrity and dignity is at the core of human rights defense. B’Tselem has shown international light on human rights violations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, providing a voice to victims and calling for accountability. It is commendable that B’Tselem has so tirelessly fought to uphold human rights in an environment where its criticism has not always been welcome.” 

via BTselem awarded the 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award | BTselem.

UN Watch and Human Rights Watch – two very different animals but how clear does one make it?

January 9, 2013

Phyllis Bennis, a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, wrote in her blog through Al-Jazeera, on 9 January 2013, a very informative piece under the title: “Human Rights Watch: Time to stand with human rights defenders” with the provocative byline: It is disappointing to see HRW’s unwillingness to stand with those who are working to promote and defend human rights.

The full article one should certainly read at: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/01/20131781532514238.html but what matters here is the policy question to what extent a (decent) NGO (i.c. HRW) should take to task another (very biased) NGO (i.c. UN Watch).

In short, the pro-Israeli, UN-bashing UN Watch discovered that the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, US lawyer Richard Falk, was still ‘on the Board’ of HRW. HRW quickly replied that he was only a member of HRW’s local support committee in Santa Barbara, California, where he lives and that it was an oversight that he still held this honorary position and that it was rectified (“longstanding policy, applied many times, that no official from any government or UN agency can serve on any Human Rights Watch committee or its Board. It was an oversight on our part that we did not apply that policy in Richard Falk’s case several years ago when he assumed his UN position”).  UN Watch of course cried victory implying that Falk was expelled an enemy of human rights or because he is anti-Semitic.

The author of the blog finds fault with HRW’s meek response that did indeed not amount to a strong defense of Richard Falk’s credentials, impartiality and expertise. Should HRW not have made clear that substantively it stands with Richard Falk, that he was removed for technical reasons only and would be welcomed back as soon as he ceases to be UN Rapporteur? These are policy question that each NGO should answer for itself but in the context of UN Watch’s obsession to undermine the work of the UN in general and Richard Falk in particular a more robust stance would have been useful. I think that the similarity – even confusion –  in name should also have led HRW to take a tougher public stand.

Phyllis Bennis concludes with: “Given his Middle East staff’s consistent work, there is no question that Ken Roth and the HRW board understand that human rights criticism of Israeli occupation is well-grounded in fact, and that such criticism remains a crucial element in changing the public, media and policymaking discourse in the United States. If we are ever to have any hope of changing US government policy in Palestine-Israel towards one grounded in human rights and international law, consistent human rights criticism and a willingness to stand with human rights defenders like Richard Falk when they face attack, remain crucial tools – for all human rights activists, including the leadership of Human Rights Watch.


Palestinian HRD Nariman Tamimi speaks out on repression of peaceful protest in AI video

November 5, 2012

In Greece there is a frequently heard ‘complaint’ that international human rights groups – in particular AI – have the same agenda as the USA. At a recent meeting with friends in Chania, AI’s position on Pussy Riot was quoted as evidence.

I countered by pointing out that AI on many occasions has taken a stand that seems to go against US policy, from the death penalty to Guantanamo Bay and the Israeli occupied territories. A recent video referred to here makes that clear again in the case of Israel. Perhaps even more shocking are some of the comments that seems to confirm the existence of an orchestrated response [by whom?] to equal any criticism of Israel to anti-Semitism.

Every Friday since December 2009 residents of al-Nabi Saleh and solidarity activists gather around noon in the village centre and march peacefully towards the spring. They have been met repeatedly with unnecessary and excessive force by the Israeli army including the use of stun grenades, pepper spray, batons and guns. Demonstrations are dispersed as soon as they begin and are usually not allowed to reach the spring. The Israeli army raids the village regularly, usually during the night, and conducts house searches and arrests, including the arrest of children under the age of 15.

Israeli military laws in place in the West Bank impose sweeping and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, requiring people to obtain advance permission from the Israeli military for any proposed gathering of 10 or more persons “for a political purpose of for a matter that could be interpreted as political”.  Nariman Tamimi told Amnesty International that in al-Nabi Saleh and all areas where there is popular resistance, police use extreme violence, noting that “there is nothing [to the protests] except that you chant and express your opinion.” As one of the organizers of the al-Nabi Salneh protests and a coordinator of the village’s popular committee, Bassem Tamimi and his family have been the target of harsh treatment by the Israeli army.  For more see the excellent film:

AI video on Palestinian protest