Secretary Pompeo released today the 2018 Human Rights Reports. Following are highlights from the report on Israel, the Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza:
Israel’s democratic institutions remain strong, including a free press, independent judiciary, free and fair elections, and rule of law.
Beginning on March 30, Israeli forces engaged in conflict with Palestinians at the Gaza fence, including armed terrorists, militants who launched incendiary devices into Israel, and unarmed protesters, reportedly leading to 190 Palestinian deaths by the end of the year.
Other human rights issues included reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, including rocket attacks from Gaza-based militants and terrorist attacks targeting Israelis that killed 16 people in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza; arbitrary detention of irregular migrants from January to April; unresolved issues of land and housing for Arab citizens, especially Bedouin Israelis; punitive demolitions of the homes of Palestinians following terrorist attacks by a family member on Israelis; excessive force by police in response to protests by certain groups; use of administrative (pre-crime or pre-indictment) detention against Palestinians whom the government deemed security risks; and restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinians.
On June 19, the Knesset passed the Nation State Law, which changed Arabic from an official language to a language with a “special status.” The law also recognized only the Jewish People as having a national right of self-determination and called for promotion of “Jewish settlement” within Israel.
A law requiring employers to deduct 20 percent of irregular migrants’ salaries for deposit in a special fund, which the employee can only access upon departure from the country, reportedly increased migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking and prostitution.
In areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, there were allegations of torture of political prisoners, restrictions on freedom of expression, including for members of the press, forced labor, and child labor.
Human rights abuses under Hamas’ rule in Gaza reportedly included rocket and mortar attacks against civilian targets in Israel, unlawful and arbitrary killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary and unlawful detention, including of political prisoners; restrictions on freedoms of expression, including for members of press, such as violence against journalists; and arbitrary interference with NGO operations and opposition political parties.