Rights group slams 'racist and illegal' Israeli undercover unit

Rights group calls on Israel to dismantle 'racist and illegal' undercover unit targeting Palestinians
2 min read
09 April, 2021
The new undercover police unit targeting Palestinian communities in Israel is "illegal" and must be disbanded, Adalah says.
Palestinians accuse the Israeli police of racism and brutality [Getty]
A new undercover police unit set up to exclusively target Palestinian communities in Israel is "racist and illegal", a leading Palestinian-Israeli rights group said this week.

In a letter to Israel's attorney general, internal security minister and police chief, Adalah urged authorities to dismantle the unit.

"This decision makes it patently obvious that the Israeli police continues to relate to Palestinian citizens of Israel as an enemy," Adalah lawyer Wesam Sharaf said in a statement.

"No democracy in the world would approve the establishment of a police unit directed at a specific ethnic group, and this stands in in stark contrast to the principles of equality," Sharaf said.

The new undercover unit is an extension of the infamous mista'arvim units made up of Israeli intelligence and counter-terrorism officers who assimilate within Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank.

Such a unit operating within the Israeli police force is illegal and runs contrary to regulations that require police officers to identify themselves before employing any police powers, Adalah said.

Moreover the establishment of such an undercover unit "operates directly upon principles of racial profiling, and illegitimately establishes two separate systems of law enforcement within Israel", the Palestinian-Israeli rights organisation said.

The Israeli police have routinely been accused of police brutality and racism by Palestinians, most recently last month amid a crime wave that local campaigners blamed on systemic police inaction in Palestinian communities.

Earlier this year, Israeli human rights watchdog B'tselem declared the country enforced an apartheid system "from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea".

B'tselem stated that "one organising principle lies at the base of a wide array of Israeli policies: advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group - Jews - over another - Palestinians", including Palestinian citizens of Israel.

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