Daily Israel Report

Another B'Tselem Claim: IDF Denies Arabs Right to Protest

Yet another anti-IDF report by the radical B'Tselem group claims that security forces deny PA Arabs the right to protest.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/12/2011, 6:00 AM

Rioters throw stones
Rioters throw stones
Israel News photo: Flash 90

The extreme leftist group B'Tselem has released yet another anti-IDF report.

The latest report, the contents of which were made public Monday morning, accuses Israeli security forces of denying the right of Palestinian Authority Arabs to "demonstrate" in favor of the upcoming vote in the UN Security Council for a Palestinian state.

The report, which is based on an analysis by B'Tselem members of the way security forces are handling the weekly volent demonstrations held by Arab residents of the village of Nabi Saleh, argues that “Israel does not recognize the right of residents to demonstrate, and the military refers to any demonstration in the village as a disturbance, even when participants do not throw stones and do not resort to violence."

The report goes on to claim that "Soldiers and Border Police disperse the protests, sometimes even before it leaves the village, and in most cases without the protesters having used violence."

It is unclear whether the organization expects soldiers  to suffer rock injuries before deciding to act.

Nabi Saleh, a village located in Southern Samaria, is a regular hotspot where Arabs, radical leftists and anarchists, engage the IDF and Border Police in clashes every Friday, for the purpose of disseminating propaganda footage to the world. Much violence occurs there regularly and is initiated by the demostrators. injuring soldiers who attempt to use non-violent means such as water and tear gas to disperse them.

The B'Tselem report also says that the army has declared the whole village a "closed military zone" and has blocked the access roads to it. Dispersal of the demonstrations is done using "excessive means", claims the report, which says security forces fire tear gas grenades, often directly at demonstrators, which they claim is in contravention of the army's code of practice.

The report argues that the manner in which security forces are dealing with the weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh causes serious damage to all the village’s residents who are subject to a curfew every Friday and are exposed to the gas in their homes. It goes on to claim that the blockage of the surrounding roads affects all the residents in the area because they are forced to take detours. It does not say what measures they expect to be used against violence.

B'Tselem admits that the Arab demonstrations in Nabi Saleh throw stones at security forces, a regular occurrence at thse protests, but claims that "this activity has been reduced."

The report claims that B'Tselem has referred questions to Brigadier General Nitzan Alon, Commander of the IDF's Judea and Samaria division, but that these queries have gone unanswered.

"The right to protest is enshrined in a long line of international conventions that Israel has committed to keep," says the report. "However, it appears that the army has not recognized the right to demonstrate in the West Bank."

"B'Tselem urges security forces to respect the right of Palestinians to protest and to allow them to realize that right while making do with the restrictions which may be imposed on demonstrations within the framework of a democratic government, if necessary," says the report. "When it is imperative to disperse demonstrations, it should be done using proportionate measures that do not endanger the protesters and the people around them."

The radical leftist group, which does not deal with the right to protest in  Arab countries, aims its reports only at Israel and often publishes one-sided reports aimed at damaging the IDF's and Israel's standing.

In July the group released an unsubstatiated report which claimed that the IDF abused the legal rights of Arab minors who were suspected of throwing stones at Jews in Judea and Samaria.

previous report claimed that Israel has instituted a policy in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea that exploits the resources of the area more intensively than in the rest of Judea and Samaria.

That report claimed the reason for this policy is that Israel intends to annex the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea, areas returned to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War but not annexed officially.

Last year, the group issued a report which declared, without supporting data, that 21 percent of the built-up areas within the Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria are private Arab property. Legal advisors to the Judea and Samaria Councils said the claims are fabrications.