According to research from Amnesty International, there has been a “catalogue of violations” committed by Israeli police against Palestinians in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem.
Arab citizens of Israel have been subjected to unlawful force from officers during peaceful demonstrations, sweeping mass arrests, torture and other ill-treatment in detention, and police have failed to protect Palestinians from premeditated attacks by right-wing Jewish extremists.
Palestinians face a culture of increasing repression and violence from the Israeli authorities and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, said Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“There are always periods where the institutionalised structural violence and discrimination against Palestinians becomes severe, but this is the worst it has been in a long time. There is a complete disregard for civilian life,” Hijazi said.
At least 2,150 people – 90% of them Palestinian – have been arrested, most for allegedly insulting or assaulting a police officer or taking part in an illegal gathering rather than for violent offences, while right-wing Jewish extremists have for the most part continued to organise freely. In Haifa and Nazareth police attacked groups of unarmed protesters without provocation, Amnesty reported. Amnesty also documented the torture of detainees who were tied up, beaten and deprived of sleep at a police station in Nazareth and at Kishon detention centre.
Palestinians critical of the PA have reported mounting pressure to silence them in recent weeks. Nizar Banat, a well-known critic of the PA, died during an arrest by Palestinian security forces in the city of Hebron. A large demonstration in Ramallah in response to his death, calling for PA officials to resign, was met with teargas and the use of metal batons from Palestinian security forces. Banat had planned to run in cancelled parliamentary elections this year and called on western countries to cut off aid to the PA because of growing human rights violations and endemic corruption. Last month, gunmen he claimed were loyal to the PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, attacked his house with bullets, stun grenades and teargas while his wife and children were inside. He had also accused Abbas’s supporters of waging an incitement campaign against him on social media.