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UN calls for end to discrimination and violence against Palestinians in Israel and against Negev Bedouins

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News briefing

Translated and Edited by: Committee for Justice 

Geneva: 27 July 2021

A group of United Nations human rights experts have renewed their concerns about recent reports of violence, discrimination and incitement to racial hatred against Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as the lack of bomb shelters and missiles fired in Bedouin villages in the Negev.   

In their UN memorandum sent to the Israeli authorities, on May 27, 2021, which has not yet been responded to, the experts explained that the Palestinians, including the Bedouins, constitute an Arab minority in Israel representing about 1.5 million people, or 20% of the population of Israel, and they face discrimination in many areas, where more than 65 laws allegedly discriminatory against them are applied, and a large number of government decisions and policies in practice discriminate against them.   

The memorandum addressed the events that took place in the areas of East Jerusalem at Damascus Gate, and the restrictions imposed on Palestinian gatherings in East Jerusalem, including the prevention of Ramadan celebrations at Damascus Gate and the suppression of protests against the expulsion of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.   

On May 10, 2021, the occupation forces allegedly stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque, injuring hundreds of worshipers during Ramadan prayers. Police restricted Palestinian access to Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Shortly afterwards, Palestinian minority demonstrations against Israeli policies in East Jerusalem and Gaza spread across Israel. The police allegedly suppressed and dispersed these demonstrations with excessive use of force, resulting in the injury and arrest of dozens of people in cities including Haifa, Nazareth, Jaffa, Acre and Lod.  

On May 11, 2021, alone, the experts added, the police reported 151 arrests of protesters in the northern region of Israel, with at least 66 people being taken to court to extend their detention. Demonstrations intensified, eventually culminating in a number of violent clashes with police forces. In parallel, tensions escalated in the Gaza Strip.  

The experts added that on May 24, thousands of police officers were mobilized as part of a mass campaign to arrest hundreds of Palestinians, including those who participated in the demonstrations.  

Discrimination against Bedouin villages in the Negev:  

The experts also stated that in the Bedouin minority villages in the Negev, there is a lack of any means of safety such as underground shelters and protected spaces, as most of the construction lacks infrastructure, in a way that is disproportionate to Jewish villages. and cities in the region. Furthermore, the Iron Dome air defence system does not provide coverage for many of the Bedouin areas there.    

Fears of discrimination and police involvement in the repression of Palestinians:  

The experts expressed grave concern about recent reports of violence, incitement to racial hatred and discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, saying: “We are gravely concerned about the alleged excessive use of force and discrimination by the police against Palestinian demonstrators, and their reported failure to effectively protect the Palestinian minority from mob violence and even claims that the police on occasion sided with the perpetrators of violence targeting the Palestinian minority.”  

“We are also concerned that the decades-long exclusion and discrimination, including of segregation between Arab and Jewish citizens and lack of equal treatment in terms of rights and privileges, resulted in great human rights violations against the Palestinian minority, including the absence of protection and bomb shelters in the Bedouin villages in the Negev, compromising the security of the Bedouin minority communities,” the experts added.  

The experts urged the Israeli authorities to firmly condemn all acts of violence without any discrimination and called on the Israelis to stop these attacks, with the need to take immediate steps to protect the Palestinian minority in Israel from any further violence and to provide the necessary protection and shelters for all Bedouin villages in the Negev, and a swift end to the systematic subordination of the Palestinian minority.  

UN demands from the Israeli authorities:  

The experts called on the Israeli authorities to provide detailed information on measures taken to investigate and prosecute any acts of violence directed against the Palestinian minority, including allegations of police brutality and attacks by right-wing groups and settlers.  

The experts also urged the Israeli authorities to provide information on measures taken to combat the spread of acts of racism and xenophobia, as well as advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination and violence against the Palestinian minority.   

At the conclusion of their memorandum, the experts asked Israel to provide information on any measures taken to ensure the security of the Bedouin community, including the number and locations of shelters from air missiles in the Bedouin villages. 

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