Serious rights violations in occupied territories, Israel, say HWR

Serious rights violations in occupied territories, Israel, say HWR

Serious violations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories were ongoing in 2011, Human Rights Watch said in its annual report Sunday.

It listed Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, ongoing settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and home demolitions in East Jerusalem, dpa reported.

But it also noted Palestinian rocket and mortar fire from Gaza at southern Israeli population centres.

And it condemned Hamas, the radical Islamist movement ruling Gaza, for carrying out three judicial executions, and for allegedly torturing scores of Palestinian detainees, some of whom died.

The Palestinian Authority, in control of the West Bank, was criticized for its part in arbitrarily detaining hundreds of Hamas supporters.

Israel has eased the entry of goods into Gaza, but continued to block exports, hindering the rebuilding of the coastal enclave's devastated economy. Construction materials are still barred because Israel says they can be used by militants and Gaza still had an estimated shortage of some 250 schools and 100,000 homes.

In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel had demolished (by November 1) some 467 Palestinian homes and other buildings, displacing 869 people, the highest number in five years, the report said.

"Israel usually carries out demolitions on the grounds that the structures were built without permits, but in practice such permits are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain in Israeli-controlled areas," read the report.

The report also sharply criticized Israel for detaining 164 Palestinian minors. It also mentioned settler violence and vandalism and what it said was lack of action by Israeli authorities against it. The United Nations reported 377 attacks by settlers last year that damaged Palestinian property, including almost 10,000 olive trees.

The report also mentioned new legislation passed by the Israeli parliament, including one law making "calls for boycotts of Israeli settlements" as a civil offence, and another which "penalizes cultural, academic, or other institutions or municipalities that commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe)" - the Palestinian term for the dispersal of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as refugees in the 1948-49 war that broke out after Israel was established.

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