In 2003, the HRA expanded its activities, launching a new project to monitor human rights violations against the Palestinian minority in Israel. The methodology relies on field research – interviews with victims, collection of testimonies – and analysis of domestic and international law concerning human rights. In accordance with the HRA’s organizational culture, the program staff adheres to a best-practice method of double checking all sources for validity and a strictly objective and professional approach in this work.
The idea of establishing a Research and Reporting program in the HRA was first developed in the aftermath of the events of October 2000, when 13 Arab citizens of Israel were shot dead by the Israeli Police. Since that time, a steady trickle of serious and often physical human rights abuses against minority citizens means that the need for human rights documentation and reporting of these abuses is more vital than ever.
To create the R+R program, the HRA built upon its previous reporting experience which included preparing and presenting the first comprehensive report to a United Nations human rights treaty-based body by Palestinian NGOs, “Housing for All? The Implementation of the Right to Adequate Housing for the Arab Palestinian Minority in Israel,” to the 14th Session of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and more recent publications, “Silencing Dissent: A Report on the Violation of Political Rights of the Arab Parties in Israel” and “The Right for Muslims to Take Part in Politics: Israel’s Arrests and Trials of the Northern Islamic Movement,” which the HRA put out in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
In May 2004, the HRA published the first report under the auspices of the new project, entitled “‘Let Them Suffocate’ – Police Brutality during House Demolition in Upper Galilee Village of al-Bea'neh, February 25, 2004.” This is the first in a series of case studies discussing specific instances of human rights violations that the HRA has decided to examine and document. The report focuses on the excessive use of violence by the Israeli security forces against Israeli citizens who belong to the Palestinian minority. House demolition is a core issue of conflicts between the police and the Arab minority inside Israel. The testimonies quoted in the report clearly show that the police continue to treat Palestinian citizens of Israel as an enemy that can only be addressed through the use of excessive force.
In July 2004, the HRA published its second report, entitled “By All Means Possible – Destruction by the State of Crops of Bedouin Citizens in the Naqab (Negev) by Aerial Spraying with Chemicals.” This report focuses on the policy of the State of Israel, as represented by the Israel Lands Administration, of using aerial spraying with chemicals to destroy the crops of Bedouin citizens. Experts state that this policy, which has been implemented over the past two years, endangers the well-being of humans, livestock and the environment. The HRA argues that these spraying operations are unlawful and gravely violate the human rights of the Bedouin citizens; accordingly, the state should desist completely from the use of such methods.
The HRA believes that monitoring and publicizing the human rights violations committed against the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel can help raise public awareness of issues relating to human rights in general, and the rights of the Palestinian minority in Israel in particular.