Following are excertps from the State Department's report on human rights practices in Israel and the occupied territories .

Because of the sharply differing politicosocial environments in Israel and in the Arab territories Israel has occupied since the 1967 war, discussion of this subject must be treated in separate but parallel fashion for the two areas. Therefore, for its first three sections, this report is divided into separate narratives for 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.


1.Respect for the integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Torture

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

b. Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

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, 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.

c. Arbitrary Arrest or Imprisonment

In Israel proper, this is not practiced and there are strong guaratees against it. Writs of habeas 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.

d. Denial of Fair Public Trial

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. In security cases, Israeli law provides that part or all of a trial may be closed, with the burden of justifying in camera proceedings falling on the prosecution. Counsel is always present during closed proceedings.

There are effective legal safeguards against arbitrary invasion of the home.

2. Government Policies Relating to the Fulfillment of such Vital Needs as Food, Shelter, Health Care and Education

Israel is a welfare state whose economy is organized along the general lines of the Western European mixed economies. Income distribution in Israel is relatively egalitarian. All Israelis are guaranteed good health care, and housing for the poor is modestly subsidized. Since 1948, Israel has taken in well over one million largely impoverished Jewish refugees from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and has worked to integrate them fully into its society and economy.Integration of smaller numbers of immigrants continues at the present time. Because of the wide disparity in educational and cultural backgrounds, there remains an economic and social gap between the Ashkenazi (European) and Sephardi (Middle Eastern) Jewish communities, which the government is committed to narrowing. All Israelis are guaranteed free public education through the eighth grade and more than half of all secondary students receive full scholarships. There are parallel educational systems for Jews and Arabs, conducted in Hebrew and Arabic, respectively.

While title to most of the land in Israel is held by the state or quasi-public organizations in trust for the Jewish people, Arabs may purchase privately owned land through ordinary commercial transactions. There have been frequent complaints that expropriations of Arab land, although subject to legal review as to purpose and amount of compensation, have been used for promoting Jewish settlement in densely Arab-populated areas. The government has said it plans no more expropriations in the foreseeable future....

3. Respect for Civil and Political Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Thought, Speech, Press, Religion and Assembly

Israelis of all faiths and ethnic groups continue to enjoy freedom of religion, expression and assembly. An antiproselytizing measure adopted by the Knesset in late 1977, which outlaws the offering of bribes or material benefits as an inducement to religious conversions, continues to cause uneasiness 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 media are subject to censorship on security and military matters.

b. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel and Emigration

All Israeli citizens enjoy freedom of movement within the country and are free to travel abroad or emigrate.

c. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process.

Israel is a parliamentary democracy, and Israelis enjoy the freedom fully to participate in the political process. The country underwent on orderly major transition with the elections of May 1977, when the party in power since the founding of the state was replaced by its traditional opposition...


The territories occupied in 1967 consist of the West Bank of the Jordan River, the Gaza Strip, most of the Siani Peninsula, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. The complex human rights situation in the occupied territories, particularly in the West Bank and Gaza, where virtually all of the settled Arab population is located, is largely a result of the tensions between the occupying authorities and the indigenous population, mostly Palestinian Arabs. The Camp David accords envision a self-governing authority which would give the inhabitants of West Bank and Gaza a regime of full autonomy, and negotiations to determine the final status of these territories.

The occupied territories are under military government, and law enforcement and public security are in military rather than in civilian hands. Although Israel rejects the view of the United Nations (including the United States) that the stipulations of the Fourth Geneva Convention concerning the protection of civilian populations under military occupation apply to its governance of the occupied territories, Israel claims it voluntarily observes most of these stipulations. The major difference of opinion is with the spect to those provisions prohibiting the introduction of civilian settlers from the occupying power into occupied territories. In contravention of the generally accepted interpretation of the convention's Article 49, Israel has established over 95 non-military settlements in the occupied territories, with a total population of about 14,500 people, excluding Jerusalem.

1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Torture

Allegations about the routine use of torture including psychological and physical pressures and instances of brutality by Israeli officials during interrogation of Arab security suspects have been publicized widely. The Sunday Times of London and Time magazine have reported such allegations, stemming from accounts given after their release by Arabs arrested for security offenses. Arabs in the occupied territories, including some who were actually in custody and who have reported that they were subjected to mistreatment, continue to allege, both publicly and privately, that mistreatment of detainees is a systematic practice. The accumulation of reports, some from credible sources, makes it appear that instances of mistreatment have occurred. In repeated discussions with Israeli authorities, we have been assured that such practices are forbidden by Israeli law and that any violators are punished.

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 conditions 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.

b. Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

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 dimissed from his position and two high-ranking officers in the Bethlehem Regional Command were disciplined following the use of excessive force in a Beit Jala school and an attempt to cover up the incident.

There have been reports of instances of degrading treatment of some suspects in connection with interrogations in the first hours following arrests.

In contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention (on protection of civilian persons in time of war), occupation authorities in the past selectively expelled residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip suspected of, or known to have engaged in, terrorism or anti-Israeli political agitation. The Israeli military authorities state that they ceased involuntary deportation in 1976. Also in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, however, individuals believed to have been involved in terrorism have had their homes demolished or sealed up and their families displaced. In the last year at least two homes were demolished and there have been at least six cases of sealing up of homes.

Overcrowding in prisons continues to be a serious problem.There have been several hunger strikes led by security prisoners in recent years though none this past year, but they appear to have been motivated at least in part by a desire to dramatize Palestinian political claims.

c. Arbitrary Arrest or Imprisonment

As of August 1978 there were about 2,149 non-Israeli-citizen Arabs in prison for security offenses in Israel proper or in the territories. Of this number, 20 were under administrative detention; an additional 360 suspected security offenders were awaiting trial.

Administrative detention is authorized under both Israeli law and the Jordanian and British mandatory codes which were in force before 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, and which continue in force there. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, this practice is not permissible beyond one year from the "general close of military operations." Israel maintains that administrative detention is occassionally necessary to prevent terrorist operations when a court proceeding would compromise sensitive security information. Military commanders are authorized to order the administrative detention for up to six months. Such detention can be administratively extended indefinitely, but each case receives judicial review every six months. Administrative detainees have several forms of recourse from detention orders, but the right to appeal is rarely exercised and appeals are not known to have ever resulted in a reversal of the decision of the military authorities.

d. Denial of Fair Public Trial

As required by the Geneva Convention, Jordanian law with a few Israeli modifications is still in force in the West Bank in civil and criminal matters, as is British mandatory law in Gaza. Its adjudication has been left in the hands of the indigenous judiciary, which carries out its duties in an equitable manner. Residents of the occupied territories accused of nonsecurity offenses receive fair public trials by local civilian courts. Alleged security offenders are, with the few exceptions cited in the above section, tried in Israeli military courts by military judges trained in law. Most of these trials are open to the public. Legal procedures at such trials appear generally to meet the standards of a fair trial, although Arab prisoners charge that convictions are frequently based on confessions obtained through coercion. While military regulations require simultaneous translation of trial proceedings into the language of the accused, there are numerous complaints from Arab prisoners that insufficient steps have been taken to enable them to follow the proceedings. We are not in a postion to verify these complaints.

e. Invasion of the Home

Under standing emergency regulations, military authorities may enter private homes and institutions in pursuit of security objectives as they see fit. While pursuit of this has sometimes resulted in damage to property and injury to inhabitants, the military authorities frequently make repairs or restitution on the basis of both formal claims and informal complaints.

2. Governmental Policies Relating to the Fulfillment of Such Vital Needs as Food, Shelter, Health Care and Education.

Residents of the occupied territories have complained that Israel restricts economic development on both political and commercial grounds, thereby keeping the West Bank and Gaza as captive markets. However, unemployment has nearly disappeared and real per capita income has more than doubled under the Israeli occupation, largely because of the thousands of jobs now held by Palestinian Arab workers who commute to Israel proper. The gap between income levels in Israel and the territories has narrowed steadily since 1967. At the same time, investment in economic infrastructure in the territories has been minimal. Many individuals, especially those with higher education, migrate to Arab countries where greater economic opportunities exist. However, efforts made this past year by the Israeli minister of defense and military governor to satisfy requests by West Bank mayors related to the supply of power and water have marked a new positive development in the attitude of the military government.

Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories has adversely affected the livelihood of some Arab residents, particularly through expropriation of lands for individual settlements. Arab residents have found it difficult to challenge land expropriations, partly because most settlements are first established as paramilitary installations. Expropriation for such settlements is thus justified initially on military or security grounds, even though most have been transferred to civilians over time. Groups of Arab landowners have sought court orders preventing settlement activity, and in several still unresolved cases the Israeli High Court has ordered the military government to show cause why it should not prevent civilian settlement activity at military installations.

Many existing settlements continue to grow steadily, both in size -- through further expropriations -- and in population.

Compensation for expropriated land is sometimes offered, but, for political reasons, is rarely accepted by Arab residents. A further problem results from the exploitation of a part of the West Bank's limited water resources for the use of Israeli settlements, which has in some cases caused Arab wells to dry up and has had detrimental effects on Arab agriculture.

There is no known large-scale element of corruption in the Occupied Territories. There have been a few reported cases of the taking of bries by Israeli occupation officials, but offenders have een quickly punished. The relatively low level of organized crime in the Occupied Territories is due in large part to the presence of an occupying military power which makes any illegal activities dangerous.

3. Respect for Civil and Political Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Thought, Speech, Press, Religion, and Assembly

Freedom of religion in the occupied territories is unqualified although there have been conflicts over the use of holy places venerated by both Muslims and Jews, as in Hebron. Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are restricted by Israeli definitions of security requirements. Following the Camp David summit, the military government eased restrications on public meetings somewhat to encourage public discussion of the accords. The West Bank press is subject to censorship but is allowed to operate quite freely and is frequently outspoken in its criticism of Israeli policies. While membership in a proscribed organization, e.g., the Palestine Liberation Organization or one of its constituent elements, is grounds for arrest, it is not the policy of the authorities to arrest individuals because of views privately or even publicly held. For instance, several of the mayors elected in 1977 are known to be Palestine Liberation Organization sympathizers.

b. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel and Emigration

Freedom of movement is generally unrestricted in the occupied territories and thousands of Arabs travel daily to Israel for work. Vehicles owned by inhabitants of the occupied territories are frequently stopped for security inspection. Inhabitants of the territories, like Israelis, are required to carry identity cards. They are generally free to travel abroad and return, and many thousands cross the "open bridges" to Jordan every year. Inhabitants of the territories crossing from Jordan into the West Bank, as well as other Arabs or persons of Arab descent, are subject to searches for weapons and contraband. There have been complaints about crowding and poor facilities at the Allenby Bridge checkpoint, but these should be alleviated shortly when the Government of Israel completes construction of a large new air-conditioned terminal with restaurant facilities. There are also complaints that these searches are more rigorous than necessary on pure security grounds, and constitute harassment. Authorities may on occasion seek informally to discourage the external travel of some individuals for political and security reasons.

c. Fredoom to Participate in the Political Process

Israel has twice permitted election of mayors and city councils on the West Bank. Israel permitted Arab nationalists outspokenly hostile to Israel to run for office in the second West Bank election and honored the results of those elections. No political parties are permitted, and until the signing of the Camp David accords, no political activity other than campaigning for municipal elections was permitted. Following the accords, however, restrictions on meetings were eased somewhat to encourage public discussion of the peace process. However, political rallies and protest assemblies continue to require a permit by military government authorities.


4. Government Attitude and Record Regarding International and Non-Governmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights.

The ICRC regularly inspects prison conditions in the occupied territories and has made recommendations for improvement. In 1970, the Israeli government authorized Amnesty International to conduct an investigation into reports of ill-treatment of prisoners and detainees. Amnesty International issued a report which described accounts of several cases of mistreatment it had received. Its recommendation of a formal inquiry with international participation was rejected by Israel.

In October 1976, Amnesty International renewed its request for an investigation. Since then, it has expressed its concern about the imprisonment or treatment of a number of individual prisoners, Israeli Jews as well as Arabs, in several letters to Israel's attorney general.

For several years, the United Nations Human Rights Commission and other United Nations bodies have adopted resolutions condemning alleged Israeli human rights violations in the occupited territories. The United States voted against most of these resolutions, which we regard as one-sided, politically motivated, and based on unsubstantiated allegations. Israel has been generally unresponsive to efforts by United Nations bodies to conduct investigations in territories under its jurisdication, although it has made efforts to be forthcoming regarding visits by representatives of the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, and the United Nations Educational, Ccientific, and Cultural Organization. Israel says it has not been disposed to respond favorably to request for international investgiations because its experience suggests that the reports of such investigations would reflect political bias rather than the facts. On the other hand, its decision to permit ICRC access to prisoners during the interrogation period indicates a willingness to cooperate with international bodies it regards as responsible.