US report accuses Israel of causing ‘severe’ human rights crisis in Gaza

Among the sources cited in the report are harsh Israel critics that include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Committee of the Red Cross and others.

By JNS

The Jewish state responded to Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack with “a sustained, wide-scale military operation in Gaza, which had killed more than 21,000 Palestinians and injured more than 56,000 by the end of the year,” according to the 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which the U.S. State Department released on Monday.

Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attack also “displaced the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis,” according to the State Department report, whose section on Israel runs about 23,000 words. “The continuing conflict had a significant negative impact on the human rights situation in the country.”

Among dozens of “significant human rights issues,” which the report said Israel is accused of based on “credible reports,” are “arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings,” “enforced disappearance” and “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by government officials.”

Israel also is guilty of “harsh and life-threatening prison conditions,” “punishment of family members for alleged offenses by a relative” and “serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, including violence or threats against journalists, unjustified arrests or prosecution of journalists and censorship,” per the State Department.

“The government took some credible steps to identify and punish officials who may have committed human rights abuses,” it stated.
Among the sources that Foggy Bottom cites in its criticism of Israel are the harsh Israel critics Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Committee of the Red Cross, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights Israel.

“Arab criminal organizations were involved in many intracommunity killings, with 244 Arab/Palestinian citizens of Israel who were victims of crime and violence within Arab communities, an increase of 134% over the previous year,” per the State Department, citing the nonprofit Abraham Initiatives, “making it the deadliest year ever for crime and violence within the society of Arab/Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

In a section on the “West Bank and Gaza,” which runs about 33,000 words, the State Department accuses Israel of “a sustained, wide-scale military operation in Gaza, which had killed more than 21,000 Palestinians (about 1% of Gaza’s population) and injured more than 56,000 (more than 2% of Gaza’s population) by the end of the year, displaced the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis with estimates of 50%-70% of buildings destroyed or damaged.”

“The continuing conflict had a significant negative impact on the human rights situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” the State Department added. “In the West Bank, the trend of violent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, as well as attacks by Palestinian militants against Israelis, had already increased in the first nine months of the year to record levels, and spiked sharply after Oct. 7.”

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In the “West Bank,” the report alleged that there are “serious problems with the independence of the judiciary,” “violence or threats of violence against journalists, unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists and censorship,” “serious restrictions on internet freedom,” “extensive gender-based violence,” “violence or threats of violence motivated by antisemitism,” “crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex persons” and “existence of the worst forms of child labor.”

In Gaza, the report accuses Hamas of crimes that include “severe physical abuses and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment,” “serious problems with the independence of the judiciary,” “conflict-related sexual violence or punishment,” “unlawful recruitment or use of children in armed conflict,”violence or threats of violence against journalists, unjustified detentions of journalists and censorship,” “serious restrictions on internet freedom,” “inability of citizens to change governance peacefully through free and fair elections,” “crimes involving violence or threats of violence motivated by antisemitism,” “crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex persons” and “existence of the worst forms of child labor.”

“Palestinian Authority authorities took some steps to identify and punish officials accused of committing human rights abuses, but human rights groups criticized Palestinian Authority officials for not taking sufficient action or implementing measures against officials implicated in human rights abuses,” per the State Department. “This lack of response raised concerns about accountability.”

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“There were no legal or independent institutions capable of holding Hamas in Gaza accountable for acts of terror, and impunity was widespread,” it added. “Several militant groups with access to heavy weaponry, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, also operated with impunity in and from Gaza.”

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