For English, please see below. 

Mens der ikke findes nogen artikel, der udelukkende omhandler retten til at protestere, betragtes det alligevel som en grundlæggende menneskerettighed som følge af en række andre menneskerettigheder, navnlig Artikel 19 om ytringsfrihed og Artikel 20 om forsamlings- og -foreningsfrihed. I kraft af disse forskellige rettigheder, der er indbyrdes forbundne og afhængige, betragtes retten til at protestere som et grundprincip i ethvert demokratisk samfund.

Ifølge en militærlov, der blev underskrevet i 1967, er det imidlertid forbudt for palæstinensere at protestere på Vestbredden. Sarit Michaeli fra B’Tselem, en israelsk menneskerettigheds- organisation kommenterer: “Når man ser på de israelske sikkerhedsstyrkers reaktion på demonstrationer og protester på Vestbredden, ser man, at der er en overdreven brug af kontrolvåben til at håndtere masser, hvilket ofte er yderst farligt og i nogle tilfælde forårsager personskader og endda dødsfald.”

Siden 30. marts 2018 har man i Gaza oplevet en betydelig stigning i palæstinensiske tab i forbindelse med demonstrationer, der finder sted langs Israels grænsedragning omkring Gaza. Demonstrationerne er opstået som led i den såkaldte ‘Great March of Return‘. Ifølge FN’s kontor for humanitære anliggender har hundreder ud af tusindvis af demonstranter i Gaza nærmet sig og forsøgt at nedbryde grænsehegnet, afbrændt dæk, kastet med sten og brændende drager og i mindre grad brandbomber mod israelske styrker, som har øget sin tilstedeværelse betydeligt i området ved installering af tanks og snigskytter.

Den 19. september 2018 kunne Amnesty International rapportere, at mere end 180 palæstinensere, herunder mindst 29 børn, er blevet dræbt og over 17.000 andre er blevet såret. Menneskerettighedsorganisationen havde ikke dokumenteret tilfælde, hvor demonstranterne udgjorde en overhængende trussel mod israelske soldaters og snigskytters liv, som alle befinder sig bag grænsehegnet, beskyttet af militært udstyr, sandbanker, droner og militære køretøjer.

Sari Bashi fra Human Rights Watch har ligeledes været ude i forbindelse med Israel’s håndtering af “the Great March of Return” og understrege, at “under protester kan dødelig magt kun anvendes, når det er absolut nødvendigt at beskytte mod en overhængende trussel mod livet.” Det store antal dødsfald blandt ubevæbnede demonstranter i Gaza, herunder den høje procentdel af demonstranter, der er blevet ramt af levende ammunition har rejst reel bekymring over israelske styrkers overdrevne brug af magt.

Læger, sygeplejersker og lign. er ligeledes blevet skudt – og nogle dræbt på stedet – af israelske snigskytter. Ifølge den humanitære folkeret, må militært såvel som civilt sundhedspersonale, hospitaler og ambulancer ikke angribes. Tværtimod skal de beskyttes og gives al form for hjælp for at kunne udføre deres funktioner bedst muligt. Når Israels militær beskyder lægefagligt personale, som ikke udgør en trussel, men alene udfører deres arbejde, er der ikke kun tale om en krigsforbrydelse – det tilføjer desuden en yderligere belastning af et sundheds- og hospitalssystem, der allerede er i knæ.

Regeringer, der ønsker at skjule menneskerettighedskrænkelser fra omverdenen, har ofte forbudt Amnesty International og andre menneskerettighedsorganisationer i at få adgang til de steder, hvor overtrædelser er blevet begået. Siden juni 2012 er Amnesty International blevet nægtet indrejse til Gazastriben af den israelske regering. Ifølge FN’s Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, der blev oprettet af FN’s Menneskerettighedsråd i 2009, vil “[t]ilstedeværelsen af internationale menneskerettighedsobservatører sandsynligvis have en afskrækkende effekt, der afholder parterne i en konflikt fra at begå overtrædelser af folkeretten.”

I marts i år godkendte Israels parlament ny lovgivning, der nægter indrejsevisum til udenlandske statsborgere, der offentligt støtter eller opfordrer til nogen form for boykot – økonomisk, kulturel eller akademisk – af Israel eller landets ulovlige bosættelser på Vestbredden.

Tilbage i 2005 opfordrede en sammenslutning af palæstinensiske civilsamfundsorganisationer til boykot, frasalg og sanktioner (BDS) som en form for ikke-voldeligt pres på Israel. Inspireret af den sydafrikanske anti-apartheid-bevægelse og bestående af ca. 170 palæstinensiske fagforeninger, politiske partier, flygtningenetværk, kvindeorganisationer, faglige sammenslutninger, populære modstandskomitéer og andre civilsamfundsorganer, opfordrer den palæstinensiske BDS-bevægelse til at lægge et ikke-voldeligt pres på Israel, indtil landet overholder den internationale folkeret ved at opfylde følgende tre krav:

1. Besættelsen og koloniseringen af alle arabiske lande skal stoppe og muren skal nedrives;

2. De arabiske palæstinensiske israelske borgeres grundlæggende rettigheder skal anerkendes, så de opnår fuld ligestilling (en femtedel af Israels borgere er palæstinensiske arabere);

3. Palæstinensiske flygtninges ret til at vende tilbage til deres hjem og ejendomme skal respekteres, beskyttes og fremmes, som nedfældet i FN’s resolution 194.

I dag repræsenterer BDS-bevægelsen en global bevægelse, der sigter mod at presse Israel til at overholde folkeretten ved at modvirke køb af israelske varer; ved at presse internationale virksomheder til ikke at drive forretning i Israel og ved at opfordre berømtheder til ikke at besøge eller optræde i landet. Der findes også en BDS-bevægelse i Danmark.

Jewish Voice for Peace repræsenterer én ud af de tyve grupper, der vil blive nægtet indrejse til Israel. På Twitter reagerede organisationen på, at “Israels beslutning om specifikt at forbyde [Jewish Voice for Peace] er foruroligende men ikke overraskende i betragtning af den yderligere erosion af demokratiske normer og stigende angst over BDS’s magt som et redskab til at kræve frihed.”

På trods af at Israel til tider omtales som “det eneste demokrati i Mellemøsten“, er mange grundlæggende friheder under pres. Som tidligere påpeget, giver svag og tvetydig lovgivning den israelske stat mulighed for begrænse individers evne til at organisere sig, forsamles og ytre sig. Mens CIVICUS’ Monitor der beskriver civilsamfundets råderum Israel som “hindret”, er situationen i de palæstinensiske områder en tand værre, da civilsamfundets råderum klassificeres som “undertrykt”.

Ifølge Adalah, et juridisk center for arabiske- og mindretalsrettigheder i Israel, er der over 50 love i Israel, der diskriminerer ikke-jøder. Institutioner, der f.eks. omtaler “Nakba” og dermed  fordrivelsen af palæstinenserne, der fandt sted i 1948 med oprettelsen af Israels stat, får frataget støtte fra staten. Derudover er der også en lov, der sikrer særlige rettigheder for statsborgerskab til jøder, der bor rundt om i verden, men som effektivt udelukker palæstinensere fra at vende tilbage til deres hjem.

Desuden var det umiskendeligt et afgørende øjeblik, da det israelske parlament i år vedtog den såkaldte “Grundlov: Israel – det jødiske folks nationalstat.” I første artikel beskrives Israel som en jødisk nationalstat og begrænser selvbestemmelsesretten til jøder alene; Israels arabiske og muslimske borgere, som tæller ca. 1,5 millioner og dermed udgør omkring 20 procent af Israels befolkning, er end ikke nævnt.

Tredje artikel i loven erklærer desuden Jerusalem “fuldstændig og forenet” som Israels hovedstad – og tilsidesætter dermed talrige internationale konventioner. Allerede i 1967 udtrykte FN’s Generalforsamling bekymring i resolution 2253 i forbindelse med Israels forsøg på at ændre Jerusalems status og opfordrede til, at “alle de foranstaltninger, der allerede var truffet”, blev ophævet. I 1980 fordømte FN’s Sikkerhedsråd “i stærkeste termer” vedtagelsen af ny israelsk lovgivning, der forkyndte en ændring i Jerusalems status. I resolution 478 opfordrede Sikkerhedsrådet således alle stater, der havde etableret diplomatiske missioner i Jerusalem, til at trække dem tilbage.

Amerikanske præsident Donald Trumps ensidige beslutning i december 2017 om at anerkende Jerusalem som Israels hovedstad er ikke kun i direkte strid med folkeretten, men bryder desuden med årtiers konsensus blandt forskellige amerikanske administrationer gennem tiderne – republikanske som demokratiske. FN’s særlige koordinator for fredsprocessen i Mellemøsten, meddelte kun to dage senere, at FN’s holdning til Jerusalems status forbliver uændret. Samtidig gentog han, at begge parters legitime nationale ambitioner kun kunne opnås gennem en forhandlet tostatsløsning.

Opfattelsen af Israel som et sandt demokrati må og kan således udfordres.

Kilder:

  1. Resistance in the West Bank”, VICE, (quote with Sarit Michaeli from B’Tselem can be found 26 minutes in), tilgængelig her.
  2. “Humanitarian Coordinator calls for protection of Palestinians during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank”, UNOCHA, 13 May 2018, tilgængelig her.
  3. “Israel/OPT: Six Palestinians killed within 24 hours, some deaths may involve war crimes”, Amnesty International, 19 September 2018,  tilgængelig her.
  4. Gaza: Over 100 Palestinians Fatally Shot by Israeli Forces”, Human Rights Watch, 16 May 2018, tilgængelig her.
  5. “Medical Workers Shot in Gaza Demonstrations”, Human Rights Watch, 11 June 2018, tilgængelig her.
  6. “Må man skyde på hospitaler og sundhedspersonale?”, Røde Kors’ officielle hjemmeside, tilgængelig her. Se også “Frequently asked questions on the rules of war”, International Committee of the Red Cross, available here.
  7. “Families under the rubble – Israeli attacks on inhabited homes“, Amnesty International UK, November 2014, tilgængelig her.
  8. “5 Myths and Facts About “The Israeli/Palestine Conflict”, Jewish Voice for Peace official website, tilgængelig her.
  9. “Palestinian Citizens of Israel: A Primer”, Adalah, tilgængelig her.
  10. “Israel no longer the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’”, Daily Sabah, 26 July 2018, tilgængelig her. Se evt. “Israel er kommet på demokratiske afveje”, Politiken, 12 August 2018, tilgængelig her.
  11. “Israel – overview”, Monitor Tracking Civic Space, CIVICUS, tilgængelig her.
  12. “What is BDS?”, BDS movement official website, tilgængelig her.
  13. “20 groups that advocate boycotting Israel will now be denied entry”, The Washington Post, 7 January 2018, tilgængelig her.
  14. “Final text of Jewish nation-state law, approved by the Knesset early on July 19”, The Times of Israel, 18 November 2018, tilgængelig her.
  15. “UN resolutions on occupied East Jerusalem”, Al Jazeera, 6 December 2017, tilgængelig her.
  16. “Trump vs. International Law”, Visualizing Palestine, infograf tilgængelig her.
  17. “United Nations Position on Jerusalem Unchanged, Special Coordinator Stresses, as Security Council Debates United States Recognition of City”, United Nations official website, 8 December 2017, tilgængelig her.

Even as they respond violently to peaceful protesters

 

Whilst there is no article solely dealing with the right to protest, it is nevertheless perceived as a basic human right arising out of a number of other recognized human rights, notably Art. 19, freedom of opinion and Art. 20, freedom of assembly and association. By virtue of these various rights, which are interlinked and interdependent, the right of peaceful protest is regarded as a fundamental principle in any democratic society.

Palestinians are however prohibited from protesting in the West Bank by an Israeli military order, that was signed in 1967. Due to this military order, the Israeli security forces are provided with quite a wide ability to disperse protesters even when there is no violence.

According to Sarit Michaeli, working for B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization; “When you look at the response of the Israeli security forces to demonstrations and protests in the West Bank, you see that there is an exaggerated use of crowd control weapons, very often in ways that are extremely dangerous, and in some cases cause injuries and death of protesters.”

Since 30 March 2018, the Gaza Strip has witnessed a significant increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of demonstrations taking place along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza. The demonstrations have occurred as part of the so-called ‘Great March of Return’.

According to UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNOCHA, out of thousands of demonstrators in Gaza, hundreds have approached and attempted to breach the border fence, burnt tires, thrown rocks and burning kites and, to a lesser extent, fired bombs at Israeli forces, who have significantly increased its presence in the area, deploying tanks and snipers.

On 19 September 2018, Amnesty International reported that more than 180 Palestinians, including at least 29 children, have been killed and over 17,000 others injured. The human rights organization had not documented any instances where protesters posed an imminent threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers and snipers, who have been located behind the fence, protected by military equipment, sand hills, drones, and military vehicles.

Sari Bashi, the Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch, stressed that “during protests, lethal force can only be used when strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life.” The large number of casualties among unarmed demonstrators in Gaza, including a high percentage of demonstrators hit by live ammunition, has raised real concerns about excessive use of force by Israeli forces.

A number of medical workers, who have been clearly identifiable, had likewise been shot – and some killed on the spot – by Israeli snipers. According to international humanitarian law, military and civilian healthcare professionals, hospitals and ambulances must not be attacked. Quite the contrary, they must be protected and given all sorts of help in order to perform their duties as well as possible. When Israel’s military shoot medical workers, who are clearly identifiable and are simply attending to sick and wounded, we are not only dealing with war crimes but witnessing a further deterioration of a health and hospital system already struggling to cope.

Governments who wish to hide their violations of human rights from the outside world have frequently banned Amnesty International and other human rights organizations from accessing the places in which violations have been committed. Amnesty International has been denied entry to the Gaza Strip by the Israeli government since June 2012. Yet, as commented by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, set up by the UN Human Rights Council in 2009, “[t]he presence of international human rights monitors is likely to have a deterrent effect, dissuading parties to a conflict from engaging in violations of international law.”

In March this year, the Israeli parliament approved legislation that denies entry visas to foreign nationals who publicly back or call for any kind of boycott – economic, cultural or academic – of Israel or its illegal settlements on the West Bank.

Back in 2005, Palestinian civil society organizations called for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as a form of non-violent pressure on Israel. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and comprising approximately 170 Palestinian unions, political parties, refugee networks, women’s organizations, professional associations, popular resistance committees and other Palestinian civil society bodies, the Palestinian BDS call urges nonviolent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law by meeting the following three demands:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality (one-fifth of Israel’s citizens are Palestinian Arabs);

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Today, the BDS movement represents a global movement aiming to pressure Israel into complying with international law by discouraging the purchase of Israeli goods; by pressuring international companies not to conduct business in Israel and by urging celebrities not to visit or perform in the country. Jewish Voice for Peace represents one out of the twenty groups that will be denied entry to Israel. On Twitter, the organization responded to by stating that “Israel’s decision to specifically ban [Jewish Voice for Peace] is disconcerting but not surprising, given the further erosion of democratic norms and rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom.”

Despite the fact that Israel is sometimes referred to as “the sole democracy in the Middle East”, many fundamental freedoms, such as the right to protest, are indeed under pressure. As previously highlighted, weak and ambiguous legislation allows the Israeli state to impose its authority on individuals and restrict their ability to organize, assemble and speak out. Whereas CIVICUS’ Monitor tracking civic space has labeled the situation inside Israel as “obstructed”, whereas the situation in the Palestinian territories is “repressed”.

According to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab and Minority Rights in Israel, over 50 laws discriminate against non-Jews, including barring state funding from institutions that talk about “the Nakba”, i.e. the violence against and displacement of Palestinians that began in 1948 with the creation of the state of Israel, and the law of return which grants special privileges of citizenship to Jews living around the world and excludes Palestinians from returning to their homes.

Moreover, it was unmistakably a defining moment when the Israeli parliament this year passed the so-called “Basic Law: Israel – The Nation-State of the Jewish People”. In its first article, the Basic Law describes Israel as a nation-state of the Jewish people and limits the right of self-determination to Jews alone; the law fails to even mention Israel’s Arab and Muslim citizens – which with approximately 1,5 million make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population.

Third article of the Basic Law also declares Jerusalem “complete and united” as the capital of Israel – in complete disregard of numerous international conventions. Already in 1967, the United Nations General Assembly expressed concern in Resolution 2253 of 4 July, at Israel’s attempts to change the status of Jerusalem and called for “all measures already taken” to be rescinded and no further such action. In 1980, the United Nations Security Council condemned in “the strongest terms” the enactment of Israeli law proclaiming a change in status of Jerusalem. In Resolution 478, the Council called on all states “that have established diplomatic missions” in Jerusalem to withdraw them from the city.

Hence, apart from breaking with decades of consensus among different US administrations, Republican and Democratic, US President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision in December 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is in direct contravention with international law. The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, announced only two days later that the UN position to the status of Jerusalem remains unchanged. Simultaneously, he reiterated that the legitimate national aspirations of both sides could only be achieved through a negotiated two‑State solution.

All things considered, the perception of Israel as a true democracy must and can indeed be challenged.

Sources:

  1. Resistance in the West Bank”, VICE, (quote with Sarit Michaeli from B’Tselem can be found 26 minutes in), available here.
  2. “Humanitarian Coordinator calls for protection of Palestinians during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank”, UNOCHA, 13 May 2018, available here.
  3. “Israel/OPT: Six Palestinians killed within 24 hours, some deaths may involve war crimes”, Amnesty International, 19 September 2018, available here.  
  4. Gaza: Over 100 Palestinians Fatally Shot by Israeli Forces”, Human Rights Watch, 16 May 2018, available here.
  5. “Medical Workers Shot in Gaza Demonstrations”, Human Rights Watch, 11 June 2018, available here.
  6. “Frequently asked questions on the rules of war”, International Committee of the Red Cross, available here.
  7. “Families under the rubble – Israeli attacks on inhabited homes“, Amnesty International UK, November 2014, available here.
  8. “5 Myths and Facts About “The Israeli/Palestine Conflict”, Jewish Voice for Peace official website, available here. “Palestinian Citizens of Israel: A Primer”, Adalah, available here.
  9. “Israel no longer the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’”, Daily Sabah, 26 July 2018, available here.
  10. “Israel – overview”, Monitor Tracking Civic Space, CIVICUS, available here.
  11. “What is BDS?”, BDS movement official website, available here.
  12. “20 groups that advocate boycotting Israel will now be denied entry”, The Washington Post, 7 January 2018, available here.
  13. “Final text of Jewish nation-state law, approved by the Knesset early on July 19”, The Times of Israel, 18 November 2018, available here.
  14. “UN resolutions on occupied East Jerusalem”, Al Jazeera, 6 December 2017, available here.
  15. “Trump vs. International Law”, Visualizing Palestine, infographic available here.
  16. “United Nations Position on Jerusalem Unchanged, Special Coordinator Stresses, as Security Council Debates United States Recognition of City”, United Nations official website, 8 December 2017, available here.