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Israel: UN Human Rights Commissioner's 'concerns' over attacks on Palestinian citizens

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet gestures at a press conference on 9 December 2020 in Geneva. [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet gestures at a press conference on 9 December 2020 in Geneva. [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed her "particular" concern that the Israeli police "have failed to intervene when the Palestinian citizens of Israel were subjected to violent assaults." Michelle Bachelet added that she is concerned that, "The social media accounts of the extreme right-wing groups have mobilised people to bring weapons, knives and other items" to use against Palestinian citizens.

"There are reports of excessive and racist use of force against Palestinian citizens of Israel, hundreds of whom have been arrested in this context," she explained in a speech about current events in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. "I remind the Israeli government of its duty to protect all its residents and citizens without discrimination according to their national or religious affiliation, and ensure that they are treated equally before the law."

Commenting on Bachelet's statement, Dr Yusef Jabareen, the Human Rights Forum Coordinator of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel (HFC), described it as "an important development in terms of internationalising our cause, especially her clear criticism of the racist practices of the Israeli police and extremist right-wing gangs."

The HFC has asked many international bodies to intervene to protect Palestinian citizens of the occupation state in light of the racist attacks and the suppression of their legitimate right to protest. While the Israeli authorities have detained more than 1,100 Palestinians within the state itself, with 200 indictments, not a single member of the right-wing groups and settlers who attack the Palestinians has been indicted. Furthermore, Israel's Minister of Internal Security, Amir Ohana, has criticised Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai for saying that there are "terrorists" on both sides.

READ: Israel can't impose its own laws to evict Palestinians, UN rights group says 

Meanwhile, the President of the HFC, Muhammad Baraka, has praised the Palestinian citizens of Israel for standing up in the face of "repression, incitement and threats." He also wished those who have been wounded a speedy recovery, and offered thanks to the Jewish organisations which "swam against the tide of mainstream racism within Israel" to stand with the Palestinians against the occupation.

Baraka sent a very clear message to the Israeli authorities: "Take your hands, your aggression and your blockade off Gaza. Take your hands off Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah. Stop the killing, destruction, displacement, abuse, prosecutions and arrests, and curb the fascist settlement gangs that wreak havoc under the protection of the Israeli police."

He condemned the local Hebrew-language media for the coverage of the general strike on Wednesday. "Most such outlets set professionalism and objectivity aside and acted as a chorus for the intelligence apparatus, the army and the government; as a media arm for the regime. They should be more professional and work objectively and impartially."

Calling on the international community and human rights organisations to play a part in curbing the violent excesses of the occupation state, he pointed out that the strike across all of occupied Palestine was peaceful and comprehensive. "Our people have proven today that, with the unity of their stance and struggle, they are able to challenge racist criminal schemes and thwart the plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause. This strike is a milestone for what comes next, and our struggle will continue. The follow-up committee will announce the next steps in accordance with developments."

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