In June, a broad range of political parties formed a new Israeli coalition government, with Naftali Bennett as prime minister. This government continued to facilitate the transfer of Israeli citizens into settlements in the occupied West Bank, a war crime. In October, it advanced plans and issued tenders for more than 4, 000 new settlement units. During the first eight months of 2021, Israeli authorities demolished 666 Palestinian homes and other structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, displacing 958 people, a 38 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Most buildings were demolished for lacking building permits, which authorities make nearly impossible for Palestinians in these areas to obtain.
Settlements and Home Demolitions Israeli authorities provide security, infrastructure, and services for more than 667, 000 settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The difficulty in obtaining Israeli building permits in East Jerusalem and the 60 percent of the West Bank under Israel’s exclusive control (Area C) has driven Palestinians to build structures that are at constant risk of demolition or confiscation for being unauthorized. OCHA considers 46 Palestinian communities in the West Bank to be at “high risk of forcible transfer due to a ‘relocation’ plan advanced by the Israeli authorities, ” and more than 100, 000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem at risk of displacement.
Save the Children considered, as of February, more than 50 kindergartens and primary schools, serving more than 5, 000 Palestinian kids in the West Bank, at risk of demolition. International law prohibits an occupying power from destroying property unless “absolutely necessary” for “military operations. ” In the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, Israeli settler organizations advanced efforts to take possession of Palestinian homes and evict their long-term residents. They have done so under a discriminatory law, upheld by Israeli courts, that allow these groups to pursue claims for land they claim Jews owned in East Jerusalem before 1948. Palestinians, including Sheikh Jarrah residents set to be displaced, are barred under Israeli law from reclaiming property they owned in what became Israel, and from which they fled in 1948.
This total includes non-violent demonstrators and bystanders, as well as those alleged to have attacked Israelis. On July 28, Israeli officers shot and killed 11-year-old Mohammad Abu Sarah in the back of his father’s car at the entrance to their village of Beit Ummar near Hebron in a situation where neither posed any apparent threat to Israeli soldiers, as documented in video footage published by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Israeli settlers killed five Palestinians, wounded 137, and caused property damage in 287 incidents, as of October 22, according to OCHA. The number of incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the first half of 2021 was more than double the figure for the first half of 2020 and more than all of 2019, according to government data. As of October 16, Palestinians killed one Israeli settler and wounded 37 Israeli soldiers and 72 settlers in the West Bank.
A final court ruling on many of these cases is pending. Freedom of Movement Israeli authorities continued to require Palestinian ID holders with rare exceptions to hold difficult-to-obtain, time-limited permits to enter Israel and large parts of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. B’Tselem describes this as “an arbitrary, entirely non-transparent bureaucratic system” where “many applications are denied without explanation, with no real avenue for appeal. ” Israeli authorities, as of June 2020, maintained nearly 600 checkpoints and other permanent obstacles within the West Bank, in addition to nearly 1, 500 ad-hoc “flying” checkpoints erected between April 2019 and March 2020, according to OCHA. Israeli forces routinely turn away or delay and humiliate Palestinians at checkpoints without explanation, while permitting largely unfettered movement to Israeli settlers. The separation barrier, which Israel said it built for security reasons but 85 percent of which falls within the West Bank rather than along the Green Line separating Israeli from Palestinian territory, cuts off thousands of Palestinians from their agricultural lands.
World Report 2022: Rights Trends in Israel and PalestineAcross two governments, each in power for roughly half of 2021, Israeli authorities doubled down on policies to repress Palestinians and privilege Jewish Israelis. The government’s policy of maintaining the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), coupled with the particularly severe repression against Palestinians living in the OPT, amounts to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.
PA personal status laws discriminated against women, including in relation to marriage, divorce, custody of children and inheritance. Women’s rights groups have documented an increase in reports of domestic violence since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, with five women killed across the OPT in 2021. Palestine has no comprehensive domestic violence law. The PA is considering a draft family protection law, but women’s rights groups have raised concern that it does not go far enough to prevent abuse and protect survivors.
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It also isolates 11, 000 Palestinians who live on the western side of the barrier but are not allowed to travel to Israel and whose ability to cross the barrier to access their property and basic services is highly restricted. Palestinian Authority Following the death in custody of activist Nizar al-Banat in June, the PA detained activists on manifestly political charges, like insulting “higher authorities” and creating “sectarian strife, ” that in effect criminalized peaceful dissent. Between January and September 2021, the ICHR received 87 complaints of arbitrary arrests, 15 of detention without trial or charge pursuant to orders from a regional governor, and 76 of torture and ill-treatment against the PA.