Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Countering
Item 7

THE UNHRC'S STANDING AGENDA ITEM
TARGETING ISRAEL

Claims

Claim 17: Israel suppresses Palestinian freedoms

examples

Russia, 43rd Session

“We are particularly troubled by…restrictions on the right to free expression of opinion, and peaceful assembly…”

Algeria, 45th Session

“The occupying power has used this fragmentation and the climate of intimidation as tools to instill institutionalized racial oppression and restrict the basic freedoms of the Palestinian people.”

Egypt, 45th Session

“The challenges that the Palestinian people are going through as a result of the Israeli occupation are still escalating in light of human rights violations, the suppression of freedoms…”

Our Response

UN Watch

While freedom of Palestinian movement is undeniably affected by Israeli security measures concerning the West Bank and Gaza, this issue—which is addressed in greater detail in Claim 14—only tells part of the story.

According to Freedom House, the Palestinian Authority “governs in an authoritarian manner,” and engages in “acts of repression against journalists and human rights activists.” Abuses of basic freedom include:

  • The PA has not held a presidential election since 2005 and Palestinians in the West Bank do not have a functioning legislative body.
  • The PA deals harshly with political opposition and rivals of President Abbas within Fatah.
  • Official corruption remains a major problem and government transparency is lacking.
  • The news media are generally not free in the West Bank. Under PA law, journalists can be fined and jailed, and newspapers closed, for publishing information that might harm national unity, contradict national responsibility, or incite violence.
  • Human rights organizations have accused the PA of monitoring social media posts and detaining individuals for harsh questioning related to their comments.
  • Human rights groups regularly document allegations of arbitrary detention by PA security forces.[1]

Likewise, the Gaza Strip functions as a de facto one-party state under Hamas rule, which severely curtails civil liberties:

  • The media are not free and Gazan journalists and bloggers continue to face Hamas repression. Intimidation by Hamas and other armed groups curbs personal expression and private discussion in Gaza, and the authorities monitor social media for critical content.
  • Hamas significantly restricts freedom of assembly, with security forces violently dispersing unapproved public gatherings.
  • Hamas has restricted the activities of non-governmental and civil society organizations that do not submit to its regulations.
  • Hamas security forces and militants regularly carry out arbitrary arrests and detentions.[2]

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have strongly criticized PA and Hamas violations of Palestinians’ basic rights and freedoms.[3]

Ultimately, it is not Israel that is responsible for much of the lack of freedom experienced by Palestinians but their dual leadership, the PA and Hamas, which systematically deny political and civil rights to those under their control.

[1] See, e.g., Freedom in the World 2020: West Bank, Freedom House (2020), https://freedomhouse.org/country/west-bank/freedom-world/2020.

[2] See, e.g., Freedom in the World 2020: Gaza Strip, Freedom House (2020), https://freedomhouse.org/country/gaza-strip/freedom-world/2020.

[3] See, e.g., Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent, Arbitrary Arrest & Torture Under the Palestinian Authority & Hamas, Human Rights Watch (2018), https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/palestine1018_web4.pdf; Another Brutal Crackdown by Hamas in Gaza, Human Rights Watch (March 20, 2019), https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/03/20/another-brutal-crackdown-hamas-gaza; Palestine: No Letup in Arbitrary Arrests, Torture, Human Rights Watch (May 29, 2019), https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/05/29/palestine-no-letup-arbitrary-arrests-torture; State of Palestine: Stop Excessive Use of Force, Arbitrary Detention and Torture Against Peaceful Demonstrators, Amnesty International (June 22, 2018), https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde21/8656/2018/en/; Palestine: End arbitrary detention of critics in West Bank and Gaza, Amnesty International (May 7, 2020), https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/05/palestine-end-arbitrary-detention-of-critics-in-west-bank-and-gaza/.

UN Watch

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