Excerpts from State Department’s Report on Human Rights in Israel
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Excerpts from State Department’s Report on Human Rights in Israel

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Following are excerpts from the State Department report on human rights practices in Israel and the occupied territories:

Israel is a full-fledged parliamentary democracy with extremely high standards of justice and human rights. These standards are applied fully inside Israel proper.

Under the military regime that governs the occupied territories, however, certain of the normal human-rights guarantees that are taken for granted in Israel proper have been suspended on security grounds. This dichotomy poses a dilemma that will probably be resolved only in the context of a final peace settlement with its neighbors.

Torture is prohibited by law in Israel, and is virtually unheard of.

Although there may have been rare exceptions in the past, the Department of State knows of no instances in the last year of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Such treatment is not sanctioned in Israel, and law enforcement is carried out without the excessive use of force.

Sami Esmail, an American citizen (a student at Michigan State University in Lansing, Mich.) has alleged that he was mistreated while under interrogation soon after he was arrested on security charges in December 1977. We asked the Israelis to investigate these charges, looked into them ourselves, and could find no corroborating evidence to substantiate them.

In Israel proper, arbitrary arrest or imprisonment is not practiced and there are strong guarantees against its. Writs of habeus corpus and other guarantees of due process of law are employed and defendants are considered innocent until proved guilty. Preventive detention is legal but is virtually never practiced.

The right to a fair hearing by an impartial tribunal with representation by counsel is observed. With the exception of security cases, all trials are open. There are effective legal safeguards against arbitrary invasion of the home.

Israelis of all faiths and ethnic groups continue to enjoy freedom of religion, expression and assembly. An anti-proselytizing measure adopted by the Knesset in late 1977, which outlaws the offering of bribes or material benefits as on inducement to religious conversions, continues to cause unease among some Christian groups in Israel because of its vague wording, but thus far no legal action has been taken under the law.

There is full freedom of speech in Israel. Both the Hebrew and Arabic press are free and express a wide variety of political opinions, although all newspapers are subject to censorship on security and military matters.

Israel agreed in 1977 to allow representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) resident in Israel and the occupied territories to inter alia, visit detainees without witnesses during the period of their interrogation no later than the 14th day after arrest to determine identity, state of health and condition of detention.

In addition, ICRC delegates visit convicted Arab security prisoners in prisons in Israel and the occupied territories. Whenever the ICRC feels it necessary, an ICRC physician may conduct medical examinations without witnesses; inquiries about specific cases may be submitted to the Israeli authorities.

There have been instances in which Israeli troops and border police used excessive force in quelling demonstrations and restoring order. These actions clearly did not reflect the policy of the government. In at least one case, individuals found guilty of such excesses have been sent to jail.

In mid-1978 the West Bank Military Governor was dismissed from his position and two high-ranking officers in the Bethlehem Regional Command were disciplined following the use of excessive force in a Beit Jalo school and an attempt to cover up the indicent.

Freedom of religion in the occupied territories is unqualified, although there have been conflicts over the use of holy places venerated by both Moslems and Jews, as in Hebron. Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are restricted by Israeli definitions of security requirements.

Freedom of movement is generally unrestricted in the occupied territories and thousands of Arabs travel daily to Israel for work.

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