Occupied Palestine, ALRAY - Israeli forces used excessive force to disperse peaceful protests by Palestinians in Lod during civil unrest in the city in May 2021, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
HRW noted in a reported published on Tuesday that Israeli police appeared to act half-heartedly and unevenly to violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel committed by Jewish ultra-nationalists.
Public statements by senior Israeli officials appeared to encourage discriminatory responses by authorities and the judiciary.
“Israeli authorities responded to the May events in Lod by forcibly dispersing Palestinians protesting peacefully, while using inflammatory rhetoric and failing to act even-handedly as Jewish ultra-nationalists attacked Palestinians,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.
He added The Commission of Inquiry on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in May should investigate these apparently discriminatory practices and whether the inflammatory comments by senior Israeli officials incited violence.
The report pointed out that Israeli authorities used excessive force to disperse peaceful protests by Palestinians in Lod between May 10 and 14 .
On the evening of May 10, Palestinians began peacefully protesting outside Lod’s al-Omari mosque against the threatened takeover of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. While the police had authorized the demonstration, witnesses said security forces fired teargas and threw stun grenades at the crowd after a young man replaced an Israeli flag with a Palestinian flag on public property. Palestinian demonstrators later set garbage bins, cars, and tires on fire, and confrontations with Jewish residents broke out elsewhere in the city.
Human Rights Watch documented some instances when Israeli law enforcement deployed to secure Lod stood by or failed to act in a timely manner to protect Palestinian residents of Lod from violence by Jewish ultra-nationalists located near them or in their line of sight. Witnesses said they included members of ultra-nationalist Jewish groups who came from outside Lod. In one case, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that municipal authorities provided overnight accommodations to members of these groups.
Following the May unrest, over about two weeks, security forces detained 2,142 people across Israel and East Jerusalem in a “deterrence” operation that authorities named “Law and Order.” According to Amnesty International, approximately 90 percent of those detained were Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of East Jerusalem. In a September report, AFP wrote that the Israeli police had confirmed the arrest of 154 people in connection to “disturbances” in Lod. Out of those, 120 were Palestinians.
Palestinians in Israel face systematic discrimination in many other facets of life, including with regard to legal status, land policies, and access to resources and services, as Human Rights Watch has documented. This systematic discrimination reflects the Israeli government’s overarching policy to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.
Human Rights Watch has found that Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, based on an Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians wherever they live, and grave abuses against Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The crime of apartheid is committed when these elements come together.
International human rights law requires authorities to provide everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law. The authorities have a duty to protect everyone’s right to life, without discrimination, which requires taking reasonable measure to prevent attacks that threaten life, and to investigate and prosecute those responsible.
International human rights law also requires security forces to protect the right to peaceful assembly, regardless of the demonstrators’ political views or identity, without using excessive force. At the same time, law enforcement needs to respond to violent acts in a proportionate manner that minimizes the use of force and protects people and property, without discrimination.