Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

In amongst all of the complexities surrounding the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, there is one truth that cannot be challenged. Human rights abuses are committed by both Israel and the Palestinian authorities - and civilians bear the brunt.
Those responsible commit these acts without any real fear of reprisal.

The focus of our campaigning is not to take a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or on issues of statehood. It is to stand with those demanding that all sides respect human rights, and for perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Human rights crisis

Human rights abuses are committed by Israel in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Authorities. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas, meanwhile, continue to commit abuses against Israel and within Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Since 2007 the Israeli authorities have enforced a military blockade on the men, women and children who live in the Gaza Strip. This blockade controls Gaza’s land and sea borders as well as its airspace. It limits trade, crippling access to livelihoods.
The blockade denies the citizens of Gaza freedom of movement – requiring even those in need of urgent medical attention to get permission before they can leave for treatment. Read more about life under the blockade

‘It feels as though bulldozers have been driven straight through the Geneva Conventions and the International Court of Justice’
Anne Harrison, our Middle East and North Africa deputy director

While Israelis enjoy free movement through over 500 checkpoints and barriers in the West Bank, Palestinians must obtain permits from the Israeli authorities. Many have been cut off from their own farms by the illegal fence that the Israeli authorities have constructed to divide the West Bank, mainly on Palestinian land.

Those Palestinians living in Israel and the West Bank live under constant threat of their homes being demolished. In the West Bank this is often to make way for illegal Israeli settlements.

All built on Palestinian lands, settlements are for Jewish people only. Palestinians are not allowed to enter or approach Israeli settlements or to use settlers’ roads.

Prisoners detained without charge or trial

All authorities hold prisoners without due legal process.
For decades, the Israeli authorities have held Palestinians without charging them with any crime or putting them on trial, denying them any semblance of justice.
Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank regularly arrest and detain people without any clear evidence that they have committed a crime. Many remain behind bars despite court orders for their release.
In Gaza, Hamas holds detainees without charge or trial as a matter of course, and try civilians before military courts. In 2012 Hamas security forces arrested and detained hundreds of people just because they suspected them of being Fatah supporters.

War crimes during the 2008-9 conflict

Palestinian armed groups in Gaza regularly fire rockets into Southern Israel just as Israeli forces carry out aerial and artillery attacks on Gaza. Both damage homes and kill civilians.
The 2008-9 Gaza conflict lasted for just 22 days but claimed the lives of at least 1,383 Palestinians, 333 of them children. 13 Israelis were also killed, three of them civilians. Despite clear evidence that both sides committed war crimes, there have been no credible efforts by either the Government of Israel or the Palestinian authorities to ensure that those responsible are brought to account.
We are fighting for justice and will not stop until those responsible for these grave crimes are held to account.
When Gaza and Israel again entered into conflict in November 2012 both sides again indiscriminately attacked one another, once again killing civilians and destroying homes. Read our dispatch from Gaza | Read our dispatch from Israel

The occupied territories

Israel-proper is the area inside the West Bank/East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip armistice lines as set in 1949 and 1951 respectively (also called the '1967 borders' or the ‘Green Line’).
But the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip have been under Israeli occupation for the last five decades. Together these areas make up what we refer to as ‘the Occupied Palestinian Territories’.
There are two separate Palestinian authorities that officially govern the two areas: the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza. But the Israeli occupation severely limits their power.
On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly granted Palestine (that’s the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem) non-member observer state status. Israel reacted by withholding customs payments due to the Palestinian Authority and announced plans to expand illegal settlements on the West Bank.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip

The Palestinian Authority was created following an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in 1995. It was led by Fatah until 2006, when Hamas won the parliamentary election.
Tensions between the rival security forces and their militias spiralled throughout that year as repeated attempts to form a coalition government of national unity failed. In 2007 the situation descended into all-out war and, in June, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip. 
Israel, however, maintains effective control over Gaza - controlling all but one of the crossings into the Gaza Strip, the airspace, territorial waters, telecommunications and the population registry which determines who is allowed to leave or enter Gaza. Because of this, Israel is still considered the occupying power. Under international law it is Israel that is responsible for the welfare of the men, women and children that live in the Strip.
Despite attempts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas to form a unified Palestinian government, the division between the two remains.