Israel police used excessive force against Palestinian protesters in Lod in May: HRW
Human Rights Watch accused Israeli police on Tuesday of using "excessive force" against Palestinian protesters in the city of Lod, also known as Lydda, or Lydd in Arabic, during May unrest, while treating Jewish rioters more favourably.
The violence in Lod, a city with a sizeable Palestinian minority in central Israel, came amid an escalation in illegally occupied and annexed East Jerusalem in May.
There, Palestinian protesters facing expulsion in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood faced aggression from Israeli security, while Tel Aviv launched a deadly 11-day bombing campaign against the besieged Gaza Strip, killing over 250 people. Meanwhile, Hamas and other Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel, killing 13.
Israeli officials and witnesses have said what they called rioting in Lod between 10 May and 14 May was carried out by both Palestinian and Jewish residents, with both Jewish and Muslim places of worship vandalised.
But HRW said: "The police appeared to act half-heartedly and unevenly to violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel committed by Jewish ultra-nationalists."
The group's report cited instances where police "failed to act in a timely manner to protect Palestinian residents of Lod" from violent Jewish groups.
It also cited instances in which "Israeli law enforcement agencies used excessive force to disperse peaceful protests by Palestinians."
Israeli police rejected allegations of unfair treatment, telling AFP that officers "worked day and night during the riots that took place in Lod last May to restore peace and security for the inhabitants of the city".
Investigations and arrests linked to the unrest were carried out "regardless of the religion or identity of the perpetrators," a police spokesperson said.
Several Palestinians were injured by Israeli police in the Jerusalem neighbourhood off #SheikhJarrah on Wednesday night, including four attacked by pepper spray, after dozens of Israeli settlers mobbed the neighbourhood under police protection https://t.co/ICCXM8wiLY— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) December 9, 2021
Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of committing crimes of apartheid against Palestinians in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and inside Israel.
Israel firmly rejects those allegations and claims the group has a bias against the Jewish state, though Israeli rights organisations like B'Tselem have also reached similar conclusions.
HRW's Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, was expelled by Israel in 2019 over allegations that he previously supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to isolate Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians.