Amnesty International Thursday stated that Israeli police carried out a “catalogue of violations” against Palestinians across Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, including unlawful force against peaceful protesters, sweeping mass arrests, and subjecting detainees to torture and other ill-treatment.
The human rights organization reported that Israeli police have also failed to protect Palestinian citizens of Israel from premeditated attacks by groups of armed Jewish supremacists, even when plans were publicized in advance and police knew or should have known of them.
“The evidence gathered by Amnesty International paints a damning picture of discrimination and ruthless excessive force by Israeli police against Palestinians in Israel and in occupied East Jerusalem,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“Police have an obligation to protect all people under Israel’s control, whether they are Jewish or Palestinian. Instead, the vast majority arrested in the police crackdown following the outbreak of inter-communal violence were Palestinian. The few Jewish citizens of Israel arrested were dealt with more leniently. Jewish supremacists also continue to organize demonstrations while Palestinians face repression.”
Amnesty researchers documented more than 20 cases, verified through 45 videos and other forms of digital media, of Israeli police violence between May 9 and June 12, 2021, during which protests against the forced expulsions of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah began.
“This discriminatory crackdown was orchestrated as an act of retaliation and intimidation to crush pro-Palestinian demonstrations and silence those who speak out to condemn Israel’s institutionalized discrimination and systemic oppression of Palestinians,” said Saleh Higazi.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured in the police crackdown, and a 17-year-old boy and 25-year-old man were both shot dead. Mostly peaceful demonstrations have taken place in Israeli cities and East Jerusalem over the last several weeks.
More than 2,100 people – 90 percent of them Palestinian – have been arrested, most for allegedly insulting or assaulting a police officer or taking part in an illegal gathering, while Israeli settlers have been largely able to organise freely.
“The few Jewish citizens of Israel arrested were dealt with more leniently. Jewish supremacists also continue to organise demonstrations while Palestinians face repression," said Higazi.
On at least two occasions in Haifa and Nazareth, Amnesty reported there was evidence of police attacking groups of unarmed Palestinian protesters without provocation.
An incident in which an Israeli police officer shot a 15-year-old girl in the back outside her Sheikh Jarrah home was captured on video, as was another incident where a protester was shot in the face while using his phone to film police from a balcony in Jaffa.
The rights group also documented the torture of detainees who were tied up, beaten and deprived of sleep at a police station in Nazareth and at the Kishon detention center.
“The repeated failure of Israeli police to protect Palestinians from organized attacks by groups of armed Jewish supremacists and lack of accountability for such attacks is shameful and shows the authorities’ disregard for Palestinian life,” Molly Malekar, Director of Amnesty Israel.
“The fact that Jewish citizens of Israel, including prominent figures, have been allowed to openly incite violence against Palestinians without being held accountable highlights the extent of institutionalized discrimination faced by Palestinians and the urgent need for protection.