The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has made quite a name for itself for its incessant and virulent attacks on Israel. Here’s a sample of its many denunciations of the Jewish state:
Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.
The Country Page of Israel/Palestine at the website of HRW repeats the same charge of “crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution” here.
Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against millions of Palestinians. For over 54 years, Israel has occupied Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, relying routinely on forcible displacement and excessive force. In the West Bank, authorities have facilitated the transfer of over 700,000 Israeli settlers, a war crime, confiscated vast swaths of Palestinian land, and made it nearly impossible for Palestinians to build in much of the territory without risking demolition. Israel severely restricts the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, with devastating humanitarian impact.
“Apartheid and persecution” – that’s how HRW sums up the sins of the “colonial-settler state” of Israel. But at the same time, HRW has always minimized the misdeeds of the Palestinians. It has said nothing about the PA’s Pay-For-Slay program that rewards past, and minimizes future, acts of terrorism. It has said nothing about the Palestinian practice of honoring terrorists by naming schools, streets, squares, and sports competitions after them. It has said nothing about the Palestinian schoolbooks that inculcate violent antisemitism. It has said nothing about the Holocaust minimization and outright denial from PA leaders, beginning with Mahmoud Abbas. It has said nothing about Hamas’ practice in Gaza of hiding weapons inside and near civilian buildings such as schools, hospitals, apartment buildings. It has said nothing about Hamas’ holding two mentally defective Israeli citizens as prisoners.
HRW has repeated every charge, no matter how ludicrous, against Israel. It has accused the Jewish state of deliberately trying to expel Arabs from the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem, in what the Palestinians insist is part of a sinister effort to “Judaize” the city, instead of recognizing that these Sheikh Jarrah squabbles are only property disputes between Jewish owners and Arab squatters on their land, who for years have refused to pay rent. HRW has failed to challenge the explosive, and false, Palestinian charge that the Israelis are plotting to take over the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in order to raze it and build a Third Temple on its site. HRW continues to repeat its charge of Israelis torturing Palestinian prisoners, without producing any evidence to support that charge.
Given how grotesquely one-sided Human Rights Watch has been, it was a welcome surprise to find it in late June condemning both Hamas and the PA for their mistreatment of Palestinians. A report on HRW’s accusations against the PA in the West Bank and against Hamas in Gaza,) can be found here: “Rights group: Palestinian Authority and Hamas systematically torture critics in jail,” Times of Israel, July 1, 2022:
Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip systematically torture critics in detention, a practice that could amount to crimes against humanity, an international rights group said Friday.
In its report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for donor countries to cut off funding to Palestinian security forces that commit such crimes and urged the International Criminal Court to investigate.
The report alleged that Palestinian security forces “use solitary confinement and beatings, including whipping feet and forcing detainees into painful stress positions for prolonged periods, hoisting their arms behind their backs with cables or rope, to punish and intimidate critics and opponents, and elicit confessions.”…
There is plenty of evidence – the testimony of the Palestinian victims themselves, and their families – of their savage mistreatment in Palestinian prisons. They are beaten, whipped, forced to assume and maintain painful positions for hours; some are placed in solitary confinement. These are not terrorists, but political dissidents, sworn enemies of Mahmoud Abbas’ rule, his corruption and mismanagement.
HRW’s report comes a year after the death of Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority, whose family says he died after PA security forces stormed his residence in the middle of the night and beat him with metal batons. His death sparked weeks of protests against the PA, which governs parts of the West Bank. Palestinian security forces violently dispersed some of those protests.
Amnesty International said last week that the Palestinian Authority has failed to hold its security forces accountable for the death. Palestinian authorities arrested 14 officers last summer and are trying them in a military court, but have taken no action against top commanders.
Of course the PA isn’t going to hold its “top commanders” responsible for the death of Nizar Banat. It’s the person at the very top – Mahmoud Abbas himself – who is ultimately responsible, and no one is going to bring him to justice. In fact we can be sure the fix is in: of the 14 security men charged in Nizar Banat’s death, one will be selected to take the fall for all the rest. They will concoct a story of how he meant only to scare Banat by swinging a steel baton close to his head; Banat fell forward and the baton collided with it, dealing a mortal blow. An accident! And then, also by prearrangement, he alone will be sentenced to a short sentence, no more than one to three years. For his sacrifice, Abbas will arrange lifetime support for him and his family. Not a bad deal.
“More than a year after beating to death Nizar Banat, the Palestinian Authority continues to arrest and torture critics and opponents,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.
“Systematic abuse by the PA and Hamas forms a critical part of the repression of the Palestinian people,” he said, referring to the terror group that rules Gaza.…
All these accusations against the PA, for the “arrest and torture” of critics and opponents, and against both the PA and Hamas for “systematic abuse” of the people they rule over, are true, but so unexpected since the HRW has always obsessively fixated on the sins of Israel. Omar Shakir, HRW’s most ferocious in-house critic of Israel, decided it was time to ostentatiously display HRW’s “evenhandedness” by accusing the PA of the same kind of things HRW routinely accuses the Israelis of doing. And in the case of the PA, and Hamas, these accusations are distinguished from the attacks on Israel in one important way — they happen to be true.
Of course HRW couldn’t allow Israel to ‘scape whipping even in a report that was supposed to be all about the misdeeds of the PA and Hamas. The report ends with the usual tu-quoque canard of decrying Israel’s “mistreatment and torture” of Palestinian detainees. Israel has patiently, exhaustively, replied to those charges in the past; the Israelis categorically deny ever torturing detainees, and HRW has failed to adduce any evidence to support such a wild charge. As for “mistreatment,” that is so vague a charge, but apparently in the case of Israel it is meant to refer to such things as security prisoners – those convicted of terrorism — being restricted to family visits only once a month, or even more infrequently, instead of biweekly, and the supposedly enormous bureaucratic hardship imposed on the family members of those prisoners, who have to wait long hours to be approved for such a visit. Long hours! Some mistreatment! Not exactly the rack-and-screw.
Apparently too many Palestinians were in a rage over their own mistreatment – and especially over the beating death of Nizar Banat, for HRW to any longer ignore the problem of the savage treatment meted out by both the PA and Hamas to their own political detainees. Having made its now “fair and balanced” condemnation of the PA and Hamas, HRW can now go back to what it loves to do best: denounce the Jewish state on every possible occasion, for every possible crime.