Israel

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Persistent violations
  • Demolition of homes, schools and infrastructure[1]
  • Barriers to family visits for children in detention[2]
  • Differential treatment of children in the justice system in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories[3]
  • Inappropriate detention of children, including with adults and as other than a last resort[4]
  • Ill-treatment of children in the juvenile justice system[5]
  • Violence against, and abuse of, children[6]
  • Children affected by armed conflict[7]
  • Sexual violence and abuse against children, particularly girls[8]
  • Discrimination against bedouin children, particularly girls[9]
  • Barriers facing, or discrimination against, children from Arab backgrounds and children from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly with regards to education[10]
  • Inadequate provision for children with disabilities, particularly children from Israeli Arab backgrounds[11]
  • Restrictions on the freedom of movement of children[12]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedom while countering terrorism
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee against Torture
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee against Torture, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee against Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee against Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Representative to the Secretary-General on human rights of internally displaced persons and the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  12. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Committee against Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief



Introduction

A Mediterranean country bordering Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel's exact borders are a matter of contention. Established in 1948 after violence between Jewish nationalists, local Arab Palestinians and the militaries of the surrounding States, Israel operates as a democracy with both a presidential head of state and a prime minister as head of government. Human rights concerns in Israel include restrictions on NGO and media activities, discrimination against Arab Israeli citizens and the ongoing systematic abuses of human rights by Israeli security forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Geography

Israel is located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and shares borders with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. The territories of the West Bank and the Gaza strip are on the border of Jordan and the Mediterranean respectively. The Israeli government claims Jerusalem as its capital city, though it is not recognised as such by many States.

Population and language

The population of Israel is 7.8 million and has been rising at between two to three per cent per year since 1980. A large majority of those living in Israel are Jewish (76 percent), making Israel the only majority Jewish state in the world. There is a also a sizeable minority of Arabs (20 per cent)[1].

Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian are widely spoken in the country.

History and politics

Modern day Israel was formed in 1948 following the “Proclamation of Independence”. The country has been in a persistent state of conflict since, with notable flash-points during the Suez/Sinai campaign of 1956, the six-day-war of 1967 and two wars with Lebanon in 1982 and 2000. Israel's modern history has also been marked by territorial struggles over the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. For more information on this, see the wiki page for the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The Israeli political system draws on a number of European and Westminster political models, but also bears U.S. influences. The Prime Minister is the head of government which usually takes the form of a coalition. The Knesset (Parliament) is a single chamber legislature elected at least every four years, though it is not uncommon for elections to be held more frequently. The President, elected by the Knesset, is officially the Head of State, though it is a largely ceremonial role.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud party, became Prime Minister in 2009[2] and currently leads a coalition of six parties. Veteran politician, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former leader of the Labour Party, Shimon Peres is the President[3].

Legal system

Israel has an unusual legal system without a Constitution but with a series of eleven “Basic Laws” that deal largely with institutional aspects of the State and human rights. The system also draws, in varying degrees, from the region's experience of common law under the British Mandate and the civil law traditions of Ottoman Empire

Economy

The Israeli economy has experienced substantial growth and development over the past decade, achieving annual GDP growth of around 4.5 per cent. The high-tech sector has been key in this growth, accounting for 10 per cent of the workforce, but 40 per cent of exports[4]. Natural gas discovered off the north coast of the country also presents a source of future economic development, with quantities found that could fulfil the country's energy requirements for decades or provide substantial export revenue[5].

Media and civil society

Reporters Without Borders rated Israel 93 out of 178 countries in its 2010 Press Freedom Index, a situation it considered “satisfactory”, but has raised a number of concerns about media freedom in the country. Particular concerns have surrounded proposed reforms to libel laws[6], bans on foreign journalists in the Gaza strip during periods of military activity, the closure of a radio station in East Jerusalem, and the arrest of Palestinian journalists in Jerusalem and the West Bank[7]. The Israeli government also faced severe criticism for its approach to civil society in November 2011, when a draft law that sought to limit the foreign funding of NGOs was introduced in the Knesset[8].

Human rights and children's rights

Beyond concerns regarding media and civil society freedom, a number of concerns have been raised with regards to human rights more generally with regards to the Israeli state. With regards to the Gaza strip, UN treaty bodies have been particularly critical of the demolition of homes and civilian infrastructure, as well as on the extensive limitations on freedom of movement posed by checkpoints and the wall. These actions have had a particular effect on children with regards to access to education and health facilities as well as in restricting aid agencies' access to the area[9].

  1. Ynetnews.com, "Central Bureau of Statistics Census: 75.6% of Israelis Jews" 24 September 2008
  2. BBC, "Profile: Benjamin Netanyahu" 20 February 2009
  3. BBC, "Israel Profile" 31 August 2011
  4. The Economist, "Beyond the start-up nation" 29 December 2009
  5. The Economist, " Israel and its natural resources: What a gas!" 11 November 2010
  6. Reporters Without Borders, "Draconian measures threaten democracy" 22 November 2011
  7. Reporters Without Borders, " More Israeli arrests of Palestinian journalists in Jerusalem and West Bank" 19 November 2011
  8. CRIN, "Israel: Prime Minister stalls hearing on draft bill that would cap foreign funding of NGOs" 22 November 2011 and The Jewish Daily Forward, "U.S. Ambassador criticises anti-NGO law" 4 December 2011
  9. CRIN, "Israel: Children's Rights in UN Treaty Body Reports"

Sources:


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