The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), has written today to international missions and embassies in Israel to express extreme concern over the mounting racial tensions targeting Arab Palestinians within Israel, and urging immediate action from the international community.
In its communication, the HRA explained how over the weekend, Palestinians from Arab towns across Israel mobilized in protest of the recent violent events which have taken place over the West Bank and Jerusalem, including the inhumane killing of 16 year old Mohamed Abu Khdeir, and the disproportionate use of police and security powers leveled at Palestinians in the wake of the abduction and killing of three Jewish teenagers. HRA described how protesters exercising their democratic right to expression and protest, were greeted with a surge of violence from security forces, mass arrests and detentions.
Explaining that this comes amid an environment of increasing hatred and incitement towards Arab Palestinians at both an official and a public level within Israel, the letter describes how recent statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu and a number of other politicians have roused religious and ethnic tensions by promoting an ‘us and them’ mentality, and by calling for broad violent reprisals and even genocide against the Palestinians.
“Speaking at the funeral of three Jewish Israelis killed in the West Bank, Netanyahu provoked fear and encouraged a nationalistic response by claiming:
"A broad moral gulf separates us from our enemies...They sanctify death; we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty and we mercy and compassion."
Rather than take practical and meaningful steps to prevent a further escalation of violence, and protect the Arab Palestinian minority from nationalistic hatred, Israel’s political leadership have instead fanned the flames of intolerance and violence.”
Director of HRA Mohammad Zeidan further described how “social media has been awash with anti-Palestinian sentiment and calls to arms. These have not proven to be idle threats as Arab Palestinians were set upon by mobs across Israel in attacks targeting their homes, vehicles and property. They have furthermore been subject to demonstrations calling for “death to Arabs” which the Israeli security forces have not only failed to prevent, but have accompanied as they’ve marched through towns and cities.”
The letter emphasised how this incitement and promotion of hatred, will only lead to further violence and hostility, citing examples of how in cities where Jewish and Arab Palestinian Israelis live close together, motorists have been stopped in their cars by mobs who have unleashed violence on those they have identified as being Arab. Zeidan reiterates that “this activity has been allowed to continue largely unabated with what can only be considered to be de-facto support from politicians and the security services.”
The HRA argue that the response of the media to this spiralling situation has proved unsatisfactory. “The coverage of such revenge attacks has been inadequate, unrepresentative and has served to further incite rather than ease tensions. The situation within Israel is fast moving towards a dangerous and explosive state.”
Zeidan concluded his appeal for a clear stance and effective action from international institutions, country representatives and foreign embassies, with a request to meet with the HRA and representatives of the Palestinian Arab minority within Israel including the High Follow-up Committee, to discuss these issues further. In light of the launching of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ against the Palestinians in Gaza and further escalations in the south, which could pose as a cover to further violent attacks against the Palestinians, the HRA urges the international community to “act without delay, and to promote calm by raising concerns about the escalating situation in all levels of communications with Israel.”