Human Rights Watch has denounced Israel’s systematic abuses, repression and institutionalized discrimination in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War.
The US-based group cited unlawful killings, forced displacement, abusive detention, unjustified restrictions on movement, and continued settlement expansion, along with accompanying discriminatory policies against Palestinians as among the major Israeli violations.
Tel Aviv, it said, committed many of the abusive practices on the pretext of security.
“Whether it’s a child imprisoned by a military court or shot unjustifiably, or a house demolished for lack of an elusive permit, or checkpoints where only settlers are allowed to pass, few Palestinians have escaped serious rights abuses during this 50-year occupation,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division.
The Six-Day War was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967 by Israel on the one side and of Egypt, Jordan and Syria on the other. Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds, the Gaza Strip and part of the Golan Heights during the offensive.
In November 1967, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242, under which Israel is required to withdraw from all territories seized in the war.
“Israel today maintains an entrenched system of institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied territory – repression that extends far beyond any security rationale,” Whitson added.
The HRW also called for “increasing the protection of the rights of the population of the occupied territory” as the occupation enters its second half-century.
About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds. Palestinians want the West Bank as part of their future independent state.
According to the rights group, the Israeli regime has seized thousands of square kilometers of Palestinian land for settlements and their supporting infrastructure since 1967.
The HRW referred to the unlawful killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the last three Israeli wars on Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
“Many of these attacks amount to violations of international humanitarian law due to a failure to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians. Some amount to war crimes, including the targeting of apparent civilian structures,” the group said.
Israel has also launched several wars on the Palestinian sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The 50-day military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children.
The rights group also reported that Tel Aviv tightened restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip, saying the measures “far exceed any conceivable requirement of Israeli security.”
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.
According to the report, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel since 1967. The HRW noted that most of the detainees were tried before military courts, which have a near-100 percent conviction rate.