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Israel Lashes out at Rights Group over ‘politically Motivated’ Report

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Israel lashed back at Amnesty International on Tuesday, charging that the London-based organization which monitors human rights violations around the world relied on “politically motivated and tainted sources” for the accusations against Israel published in its 1990 annual report just released here.

The 298-page report details Amnesty’s concerns over the treatment of political prisoners, minorities and dissidents in 138 countries.

The 1990 report covers events in 1989, but it also refers to occurrences since the Palestinian uprising, known as the intifada, began in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Dec. 9, 1987.

“About 25,000 Palestinians, including prisoners of conscience, were arrested in connection with the intifada in the occupied territories,” Amnesty stated in its report. “Over 4,000 served periods of administrative detention without charge or trial.”

The report added that “by the end of the year, over 13,000 people were still in prisons or in detention camps.”

The Israeli Ministry of Justice, in a statement issued Tuesday concurrent with publication of the report, accused Amnesty of “taking advantage of Israel’s uniqueness in the region as an open democracy to document what it considers to be governmental abuses.”

STRONG HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD

The report “fails to recognize Israel’s strong human rights record, given the government’s concurrent obligation to maintain security,” the Justice Ministry asserted.

It observed that while the human rights organization quoted many figures of Arab casualties, “it omits that during 1989, there were 41,161 public disturbances, 359 cases of arson, 734 attacks using Molotov cocktails, 12 grenade attacks and 80 shootings in the administered areas.”

The Israeli statement added that “these violent acts by participants in the intifada caused 385 Israeli civilians and 909 members of the Israel Defense Force to secure hospital treatment.

“In response, the government has had no option but to use force to prevent anarchy and to promote the safety of both Arabs and Jews,” the Justice Ministry statement said.

It concluded that as a result of omitting vital figures, Amnesty’s portrayal of the intifada was “incomplete and misleading.”

The Israeli statement accused Amnesty of repeating earlier accusations that the Israeli government was “effectively encouraging extrajudicial killings” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and that among the “hundreds of Palestinians” killed by Israeli forces were victims who have died from torture or extrajudicial execution.

The report does state that “thousands of Palestinians were beaten while in the hands of Israeli forces or were tortured or ill-treated in detention centers.

“At least eight were reported to have died as a result. Over 260 unarmed Palestinian civilians, including children, were shot dead by Israeli forces, often in circumstances suggesting excessive use of force or deliberate killings.

The Justice Ministry’s statement conceded that there were “delays and irregularities” in the administration of justice in the early days of the intifada, but that they have since been “largely overcome.”

The Justice Ministry took strong exception to suggestions that Israel condoned deliberate killings, which “flies in the face of not only the facts and Israel’s legal and humanitarian tradition but also the conclusions of the American State Department’s human rights report, which found that political killings in Israel ‘were neither practiced nor sanctioned by the authorities.”

Israel claimed that “many individual members of Amnesty International have expressed in writing their dissent from Amnesty’s criticism of Israel’s human rights record.”

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