JERUSALEM - In a new report published Tuesday, Human Rights Watch sharply criticizes Israel’s use of military orders to repress Palestinians in the West Bank. It says Israel often suspends civil rights, including the right to speak out, report news or be politically active.
In the report, Human Rights Watch says Israel must grant more civil rights to Palestinians living in the West Bank.
The report’s author, Omar Shakir, said Israel imposed these repressive laws in 1967 when it took over the West Bank.
"The wording in the laws is so vague that people have been detained for Facebook posts, peaceful protests and meetings among activists," he said.
Shakir spoke from Jordan since Israel deported him last month for his support of the movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS. The movement calls for boycotting Israel and all products made there.
Shakir said Israel is applying two different legal standards to people living next to each other.
"Now these policies apply only to the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, not the more than 400,000 Israeli settlers living next to them. So in some cases you have people on one side of the road who enjoy civil rights, while people on the other side of the road do not," Shakir said.
One of the cases in the report is that of Farid Al-Atrash, a human rights activist detained by Israel at a protest in 2016.
The activist said it was his right to say "no" to the occupation and to injustice, and to take part in peaceful protests.
Israeli military officials have rejected the report’s conclusion. They say Israel does not stop Palestinians from participating in peaceful protests if the demonstrators have a permit, but added that such events are held with no permit, and can become violent. They also say Israel follows international law, which allows for trials of Palestinians in military courts for security offenses.