Human Rights in War
These are truly gut-wrenching times. Hearts are heavy, grief is deep, and fear is all-encompassing. Just like all of you, we, ACRI's staff and board, find ourselves deeply troubled and profoundly affected by the horrific events that unfolded on last somber Saturday. We are shaken by the cruel attack on innocent residents in the southern border by Hamas, by the innocent civilians suffering in Gaza, and by the haunting uncertainty regarding the hostages. There are no adequate words to express our shock and horror. We want to thank you once more for reaching out to us, for your emails and phone calls, they provide us with the strength to keep going.
During these dark days, we are not losing sight of the fact that ACRI's role in times of war becomes even more crucial, and we are steadfast in our commitment to advocate for comprehensive human rights protection.
Since the breakout of the war, we've remained actively engaged in the protection of human rights during emergencies. Earlier this week we conducted a Zoom briefing to discuss the situation in Israel and Gaza, shedding light on our ongoing efforts. We would also like to encourage you to keep updated on our work via our website, across our social media channels, and to support ACRI's work.
In a joint statement by ACRI and other human rights organizations, we stated:
"Even now – especially now – we must maintain our moral and humane position and refuse to give in to despair or the urge for vengeance. Keeping our faith in the human spirit and its inherent goodness is more vital than ever. One thing is clear: We will never surrender our belief in humanity - even now, when doing so is more challenging than ever.
Having always opposed the harming of innocent civilians, it remains our duty in these terrible times - as we count our dead on the Israeli side and worry about wounded, missing, and abducted loved ones, and as bombs are being dropped on residential neighborhoods in Gaza, wiping out entire families with no possibility of burying the dead – to raise our voices loud and clear against the harming of all innocent civilians, both in Israel and Gaza.
As individuals working to promote human rights and who believe in the sanctity of life, we urgently call for an end to all indiscriminate harming of civilian lives and infrastructure. We call for negotiations and all possible action to be taken to bring about the release of the hostages - while prioritizing the civilians held by Hamas. It is the only humane and rational thing to do, and it must be done now."
We issued an explicit and unequivocal plea to peer global human rights organization and the diplomatic community to support, in any way possible, the prompt release of the hostages held in Gaza.We requested cellular companies support the families of the victims of the recent Hamas attack in the Gaza border area by enabling the tracing of mobile phones of the casualties without requiring a court order or charging any fees.
We've directed our attention to contacting authorities to advocate for the well-being and security of residents in vulnerable areas such as southern border area communities, Bedouin villages in the Negev, and East Jerusalem, shedding light to the insufficiency of existing defense measures or, in some cases, the complete absence of shelters for communities.
In response to numerous cases of severe and unprecedented violence by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank, we appealed the government, military, and police. Our request was twofold: to secure protection for the victims and to facilitate the return of displaced communities to their homes.
We contacted military and law enforcement authorities concerning Palestinians who are in Israel under family reunification permits and those whose safety is threatened in the Palestinian territories, but are presently in Israel under welfare permits. This includes civilians from the LGBTQ community and women in risk of gender-based violence. We urged the authorities to avoid deporting these individuals to the Palestinian territories during this time and our request received a positive response. Additionally, we requested an extension of the expiring welfare permits and the issuance of temporary permits for those with pending applications.
Together with peer human rights organizations, we called for an immediate halt to actions impacting civilians and human rights in both Israel and Gaza. We called for the swift release of the hostages, an abrupt termination of attacks against civilians in both Israel and Gaza, ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches the civilian population, refraining from any damage to medical facilities and shelters, and preserving essential resources crucial for survival, such as water and electricity.
We've urged the Attorney General to advise the government against broad and non-mandatory usage of undemocratic provisions within the emergency regulations. Instead, these should only be applied for direct wartime necessities or for the immediate supply of civilian necessities.We contacted the police regarding limitations imposed on protestors. We stressed the importance of safeguarding freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate, even in these difficult times, while respecting the Home Front Command's restrictions.
In response to the closure of checkpoints surrounding Jerusalem, which resulted in the isolation of residents from neighborhoods beyond the separation barrier, we contacted the Minister of Defense and other relevant authorities. We requested a reopening of these checkpoints to allow the entry of residents who hold legal status in Israel or valid entry permits. This is especially crucial for those with family unification permits and individuals facing urgent medical and humanitarian needs.
In collaboration with partnered organizations, we demanded prison authorities remove the stringent limitations on the rights of detainees and stop the arbitrary and non-essential denial of privileges unrelated to the state of war. Additionally, we voiced our objections to the proposed legal amendment aiming to further reduce the living space for inmates and detainees, a move intended to accommodate hundreds of Palestinians from Gaza who have been detained since the conflict's onset.
We contacted the Knesset's Finance Committee with a plea to guarantee that the compensation scheme being developed will adequately support workers who must be absent from their jobs due to the circumstances, including the closure of educational institutions.
We joined the request of partnered organizations regarding Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip who had permits to work in Israel. These permits were revoked at the start of the war, and some of these workers were detained. We called for their release and the facilitation of their return to Gaza.
We opposed the intention to enact emergency regulations that would grant the Minister of Communications the authority to deactivate communication devices under the pretext that their broadcasts could disturb public order or be exploited by the enemy for propaganda purposes. In subsequent amendments, this text was limited to pertain exclusively to foreign communication devices, but our efforts to address this matter continue.
Following our appeal, a barrier on the sole entry road to the village of Walaja in the West Bank has been dismantled. This barrier had cut off the village's inhabitants from and hindered the passage of crucial supplies. Extensive roadblocks had been established by the military across the entire West Bank and certain villages became entirely isolated.