This page summarizes cases raised with Israel by the Special Rapporteur between May 1, 2011, (when the Special Rapporteur took up his functions) and February 28, 2017 (the date of the last public release of communications). Communications are released to the public once per year. This page also contains observations on these communications and on responses received from Israel.
Communications and observations are divided into sections based upon which observation report they originally appeared.
Each communication is referenced as urgent appeal (UA), allegation letter (AL), joint urgent appeal (JUA) and joint allegation letter (JAL) – the hyperlinks lead to these documents. This is followed by the date the communication was issued, as well as the case number and the State reply (also hyperlinked if available).
Summaries and communications are published only in the language of submission (in the case of Israel, English).
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Israel for its response to his communication dated 29 August 2011.
The Special Rapporteur read with interest that the Law for the prevention of Harm to the State of Israel through Boycotts was judicially reviewed by the Israel’s High Court of Justice and the Special Rapporteur was further informed that this case was still pending. He urges the authorities to refrain from adopting or implementing legislations that can hamper the legitimate work of civil society. He would recommend the Government to revise the aforementioned law to ensure its revised version complies with international human rights law standards.
The Special Rapporteur regrets no reply has been received from the Government of Israel to any of the communications he sent during the reporting period. He considers responses to his communications as an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate, and urges the authorities to provide as soon as possible detailed responses to all the concerns raised in his communications.
The Special Rapporteur is concerned about increased restrictions on the rights of individuals to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly. He reminds that one of the key principles of freedom of association is the presumption that the activities of the associations are lawful. He urges authorities to refrain from unduly interfering in the internal affairs of associations and to take positive measures to ensure individuals exercising their right to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly are not subject to, or threaten to be subject to, discrimination, threats or use of violence, harassment, persecution, intimidation or reprisals. He requests the authorities to keep him informed about the measures taken to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ayman Nasser.
In light of increased restrictions faced by human rights defenders who are members of associations, the Special Rapporteur refers to Human Rights Council resolution 21/16, and in particular operative paragraph 1 which “reminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights”.
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Israel has not responded to his communications. As stated in his previous report on 30 May 2013, he reiterates that he considers the responses to his communications as an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate and urges the authorities to provide detailed responses to all the concerns raised in his communications. The Special Rapporteur trusts the Government will shed light without further delay on the cases brought to his attention during the period under review, which include the reported detention and torture of Mr. Karajah, human rights defender and member of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, in January 2013, and the reports of judicial harassment, torture and defamation against Mr. Issa Amro, prominent human rights defender and founding member of several peaceful human rights organizations in the occupied West Bank, including Youth Against Settlements.
The Special Rapporteur expresses again his concern about increased restrictions on the rights of individuals to freedom of association of peaceful assembly; in particular, he is concerned that security considerations may be used to curtail these rights. The Special Rapporteur reminds the Government of Israel that the limitation measures provided for in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are sufficient to effectively fight against terrorism. He reiterates the content of the articles 21 and 22 of the mentioned Covenant, which Israel ratified on 3 October 1991: “The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” (ICCPR, article 21) “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those which are prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on members of the armed forces and of the police in their exercise of this right” (ICCPR, article 22).
The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of Israel to take immediate steps to facilitate the exercise of peaceful assembly and free association. He reiterates the content of the operative paragraph 2 of the Human Rights Council Resolution 24/5 that “[r]eminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.”
Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur expresses his thanks to the Government of Israel for its reply to two communications sent during the period under consideration. He regrets that two other communications did not receive a reply to date and recalls that responses to his communications are an important part of the cooperation of Governments. He urges the authorities to comply with Human Rights Council resolutions 24/5 (2013), 21/16 (2012) and 15/21 (2010), which call upon States to cooperate fully with him in the undertaking of his mandate and to respond promptly to his communications.
Context in which the rights are exercised
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government for its response dated 10 March 2015, in relation to the alleged arbitrary arrest of Mr. Abdallah Abu Rahma during a peaceful protest on 13 May 2012 and the risk of his arbitrary detention following his conviction on 21 October 2014 (ISR 11/2014). He thanks the Government for providing information about the judicial system and the facts of the case.
The Special Rapporteur notes that protestors seek to express their opinions and frequently challenge norms in the context of their societies. While their right may be restricted, in certain limited circumstances and in accordance with international human rights law, he recalls that there should be a presumption in favour of the right to peaceful assembly and stipulates that since the exercise of the right largely relies on the fundamental use of public space, the right to assemble can, among others, cause challenges such as disruptions in traffic flows. The Special Rapporteur stresses the obligation of the State to facilitate peaceful protests.
In relation to the alleged killing of Mr. Hashem Khader Abu Maria, during a peaceful demonstration, and killings of Mr. Abdelhamid Ahmad Abdelhamid Breighith and Mr. Sultan Yousef Mohammad during clashes that erupted afterwards, the Special Rapporteur thanks the Government for his response dated 12 November 2014 (ISR 8/2014). He takes note of the criminal inquiries opened into the deaths that occurred in the context of the clashes between security forces and demonstrators and requests the authorities to keep him informed about the results of investigations.
The Special Rapporteur reiterates that international human rights law only protects assemblies that are peaceful and where participants have peaceful intentions, which he indicates, should be presumed. He is of the view that the enjoyment of the right to peaceful assembly does not cease as a result of sporadic violence committed by others during the demonstration, if the individual in question remains peaceful in their own intentions or behaviour (A/HRC/20/27, paragraph 25).
He restates his concern at the alleged excessive use of force used against these protestors by Israeli security forces and articulates that wherever possible, law enforcement authorities should not resort to force during peaceful assemblies. He calls on authorities to ensure that no one is subject to excessive or indiscriminate use of force, in the event that such force is absolutely necessary. The Special Rapporteur also stressed the duty of the State to ensure that law enforcement authorities who violate the right to peaceful assembly are held fully accountable for such violations by an independent oversight body and by the courts of law (A/HRC/20/27).
The Special Rapporteur expresses continued worry at the threats, intimidation and targeting of members of the association Youth against Settlement (YAS), including Mr. Issa Amro (ISR 3/2014). He fears that the intimidation against them relates to the legitimate activities of the association, including documenting human rights violations. While the State does not have to agree with the opinions and criticism expressed by persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, it has a positive obligation to ensure the existence of an enabling environment for civil society, including the enjoyment of the right of association, so that it may exist, operate and express itself freely and without fear (A/HRC/20/27, paragraph 63).
In relation to instances of interference by the Israel authorities with the right to peaceful assembly between 31 January and 7 February 2014 and the alleged excessive use of force by law enforcement authorities in the eviction and dismantlement of a peaceful protest camp at Ein Hijleh on 7 February 2014, in the absence of a reply, the Special Rapporteur reiterates his concerns related to both the undue interference and use of force (ISR 2/2014). He urges the police to facilitate the right of protestors to demonstrate peacefully and to refrain from the use of excessive force against individuals exercising their rights. He stresses that it is the obligation of States to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely. (A/HRC/RES/24/5, operational paragraph 2).
Response to communication
The Special Rapporteur regrets that he has not yet received a response to his communication sent on 8 December 2015 (ISR 9/2015) and reminds the Government of Israel that he considers responses to his communications as an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate.
He calls upon States to cooperate fully with and assist him in the performance of his mandate, in compliance with Human Rights Council resolutions 24/5 (2013), 21/16 (2012) and 15/21 (2010). In the absence of information to the contrary, the Special Rapporteur concludes that there is substance in the allegations presented in his communications.
In connection with the members of the human rights organization, Youth Against settlements, the Special Rapporteur reiterates his serious concern about their arbitrary detention and acts of intimidation, including death threats, against its members (ISR 9/2015). He reminds the Government of Israel of its negative obligation not to obstruct the exercise of the right to freedom of association and its positive obligation to ensure that civil society, including human rights defenders, can carry out their legitimate work free from undue restrictions.
He calls on the Government of Israel to cooperate with his mandate and all of the other Special Procedures mandates in accordance with its international obligations.
Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur regrets not having received a response to his communications. He considers responses to his communications to be an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate, in line with Human Rights Council resolutions 24/5 (2013), 21/16 (2012) and 15/21 (2010).
Environment in which these rights are exercised
The Special Rapporteur expresses continued worry at the threats, intimidation and targeting of human rights organizations and human rights defenders. Notably, he deplores the statement made by Israeli officials indicating that Israel should employ “targeted civil eliminations” against members of the human rights network, Palestinian Rights, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and that it is considering revoking the citizenship of some of BDS’ members, including Mr. Omar Barghouti (ISR 6/2016). The Special Rapporteur is equally concerned for the physical and psychological safety of Al-Haq, its staff members and Mr. Jabarin, and about about their alleged harassment and intimidation, which appear to be directly related to the exercise of their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, through their legitimate human rights work in the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (ISR 8/2016).
Particularly worrying are the arrests and arbitrary detentions of Mr. Farid Al-Trash and Mr. Issa Amro (ISR 9/2016), as well as Mr. Abdallah Abu Rahma, Ms. Lema Nazeeh, and Mr. Mohammed Khatib (ISR 2/2017) which appear to be directly connected to their participation in peaceful protests and for their human rights work with civil society organizations. The Special Rapporteur would further like to draw attention to the situation of Ms. Lema Nazeeh and Mr. Abdallah Abu Rahma, who may have received treatment amounting to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment while in detention. The Special Rapporteur expresses severe concern about the continued excessive use of force during demonstrations and the regular use of live fire to control protestors. He recalls that the use of force by security forces should be submitted to a proportionality and necessity test and that no one should be submitted to indiscriminate use of force. He invites Israel to implement recommendations contained in his joint report with Mr. Christof Heyns about the proper management of assemblies. He recalls that the State has the duty to convict those responsible for the violation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and urges the authorities to conduct investigations concerning the aforementioned cases.
The Special Rapporteur was informed that the NGO “Transparency Law” passed in July. As raised in communication ISR 1/2016, the law imposes burdensome reporting requirements on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) receiving most of their funding from foreign governmental entities, which would have a highly detrimental effect on anti-occupation political associations and associations of Arab citizens of Israel. The Special Rapporteur calls on the Government of Israel to repeal restrictive provisions established by the law.
The Special Rapporteur reminds the State of its obligation to ensure a conducive environment for the free exercise of the rights of peaceful assembly and association, rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, acceded to by the State on 3 October 1991. He also restates that, according to this same Covenant, only a very limited number of restrictions to these rights may apply, which should be prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society for responding to a pressing social need for the interference.
For the full reports, containing communications, replies and observations for all countries, see the following links: