After learning that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey had traveled to Israel in May, along with other state attorneys general, on a trip sponsored by the American Israel Friendship League and the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry, MAPA’s Palestine Israel Working Group requested a meeting with the AG to register our view that Israel is not a country from which to learn good security practices.
Unable to meet with Healey herself, we met on August 26 with Chief of Staff Michael Firestone and Policy Assistant Margie Pullo, to whom we presented the following list of Israeli security practices, asking which of these practices the AG would want to apply here in Massachusetts.
If you are inclined to register your concerns with the AG’s trip, you can do so by calling 617-727-2200.
Attorney General Healey:
In view of your recent visit to Israel, presumably to learn about its legal and security methods, here are some results of our research concerning those methods.
“ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION” WITHOUT CHARGE OR TRIAL, and on the basis of secret evidence, for up to six months at a time and renewable indefinitely. According to the August 2016 Statement of the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance and Development Aid in the Occupied Territories, the number of administrative detainees held by Israel is at an 8-year high.
PLACING PALESTINIAN PRISONERS IN ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION ON THE DAY OF THEIR SCHEDULED RELEASE FROM A PRISON SENTENCE, a new practice according to various human rights groups, as happened this summer to Bilal Kayed, who had just completed a sentence in Israeli jail of 15 and a half years.
DESTRUCTION OF THE FAMILY HOUSES OF SUSPECTED OR CONVICTED PALESTINIAN (but not Israeli) TERRORISTS, a form of collective punishment insofar as it also renders homeless the alleged terrorist’s relatives who are themselves innocent of any wrongdoing.
BARRICADING THOUSANDS OF PALESTINIANS IN THEIR VILLAGES FOR PERIODS OF WEEKS OR MONTHS because a person from that village killed an Israeli, a form of collective punishment imposed this July on al Fawwar refugee camp, as reported by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
RACIAL PROFILING OF MUSLIMS (including US citizens), justified by the Israeli Transportation Minister as necessary for security (Haaretz, June 20, 2016, “Israeli Minister Justifies Security ‘Profiling’ Hailed by Trump”).
“EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS” OF PALESTINIANS BY ISRAELI SECURITY FORCES, as documented by a 2015 Amnesty International report.
FIRING LIVE BULLETS AS FIRST RESORT AGAINST PROTESTERS throwing stones or firecrackers (Haaretz, July 5, 2016, “New regulations Allow Israel Police to Respond to Stone-throwing, Firecrackers with Live Fire”).
MAINTAINING A SYSTEM OF OVER 500 PHYSICAL BARRIERS that prevent the free movement of Palestinians among their own villages, schools, medical facilities, agricultural fields and workplaces, as documented by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), including earth walls, earth mounds, gates, checkpoints, roadblocks, and trenches.
CONDUCTING MILITARY-STYLE SEARCH AND ARREST RAIDS ON PALESTINIAN HOMES, villages and refugee camps at an average rate, according to OCHA, of 88 a week (in an area a little over a quarter of the size of Massachusetts). The raids involve the use of stun guns, skunk gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition; the destruction of Palestinian property; and the beating and terrorizing of Palestinian residents, many of whom are carried away to Israel and later released without charges.
ROUTINELY VIOLATING THE RIGHTS OF PALESTINIAN MINORS, as evidenced by a 2015 Human Rights Watch report that Israeli security forces “have choked children, thrown stun grenades at them, beaten them in custody, threatened and interrogated them without the presence of parents or lawyers, and failed to let their parents know their whereabouts.” The situation is so alarming that in June of this year 20 Members of Congress, led by Representative Betty McCollum, urged President Obama to appoint a special envoy to protect Palestinian youth living under Israeli occupation.
TURNING A BLIND EYE TO CRIMES COMMITTED BY ISRAELI CIVILIANS AGAINST PALESTINIANS IN THE WEST BANK, as evidenced by the fact that, according to a 2015 report by the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, a complaint submitted by a Palestinian to Israeli police has less than a 2% chance of leading to investigation, trial, and conviction.
MAINTAINING TWO SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL SYSTEMS OF LAW for the two populations living in the same geographical area –e.g. in the West Bank, Israeli civil law for Jewish settlers and Israeli military law for Palestinians. According to the 2015 U.S. Country Report for Israel and the Occupied Territories, the conviction rate for Palestinians in Israeli military courts is over 99%.
WHICH OF THESE ISRAELI PRACTICES DO YOU – AS THE CHIEF LAW-ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH — BELIEVE WOULD BE APPROPRIATE FOR MASSACHUSETTS?
Cole Harrison, Executive Director
Susan T. Nicholson, Esq.