14 ISRAEL RIGHTS GROUPS BACK AMNESTY APARTHEID REPORT

The state of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is a crime against humanity and is illegal under international law, Amnesty International said on February 1. The rights group says Israel’s “oppression and domination” of Palestinians amounts to apartheid. “The Israeli government is committing the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians and must be held accountable,” the organisation said as it released its nearly 280-page report. Amnesty said Israel has embraced laws and practices that “are intended to maintain a cruel system of control over Palestinians, have left them fragmented geographically and politically, frequently impoverished, and in a constant state of fear and insecurity.”

The Israeli government and pro-Israel Zionist groups have slammed the report as anti-Semitic while a number of western governments gave a hostile response to the report’s publication. However, 14 Israeli NGOs and human rights groups have signed a statement in support of Amnesty International, condemning the “vicious” attack on the rights group sparked by the recent publication of the Amnesty report. B’Tselem, HaMakod, Adalah, Breaking the Silence, the Israeli Centre for Public Affairs, Physicians for Human Rights, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Yesh Din, are among the 14 signatories to the statement issued in support of Amnesty.

HAMAS URGES AU TO REJECT ISRAEL’S OBSERVER STATUS

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas on February 4 urged member states attending the African Union (AU) Summit to reject granting observer status to Israel. Hamas stated that Israel “has practised, and is still practising, state terrorism, and systematically commits all kinds of crimes against the Palestinian people, their land and their holy sites.” In its statement, Hamas also noted that Israel “adopts a policy of ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination,” affirming that many international rights groups have proven this. A recent example was the Amnesty International report, which described Israel as “an apartheid system”. Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra has denounced an AU decision to grant Israel observer status as a “double mistake”. “There is a double mistake with this case,” he stressed. “The first mistake was to grant observer status [to Israel] without conducting consultations with the AU member states, including Algeria,” Lamamra asserted, adding that the decision “was bad and should not have been taken.”

LEBANON DISMANTLES LARGEST ISRAELI SPY NETWORK

Lebanese intelligence has dismantled the largest Israeli espionage network operating in the country, a report said on January 31. The Internal Security Forces’ information branch uncovered over 15 Israeli spy networks working independently across Lebanon and even reaching neighbouring Syria – in one of Lebanon’s “largest security operations carried out since 2009”, Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar claimed. Over 35 alleged members of the network were interrogated over the past month, and at least 20 suspects were arrested. The arrests prevented efforts to “tamper with security and sabotage the stability” in Lebanon, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in a cabinet statement. The spies were found to be monitoring and providing information on Hezbollah and Palestinian factions in Lebanon, including Hamas, according to Al-Akhbar. The network reportedly penetrated the information branch of security services and allegedly became close to its leadership, the report said.

EU LAWMAKERS URGE UN TO MONITOR EGYPT HUMAN RIGHTS

Politicians from 13 nations and the European Parliament have urged the foreign ministers of their own countries, as well as ambassadors to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to address the human rights crisis in Egypt. “We are extremely concerned about the international community’s persistent failure to take any meaningful action to address Egypt’s human rights crisis,” read the statement signed by 175 parliamentarians from the EU bloc and the UK.

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