Israelís democratic and humanitarian values:
illustrations from the midst of conflict

Briefing Number 162

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Summary: “Israel is a democracy”; “Israel respects human rights”:  these are commonplace statements by Israel’s supporters around the world.  In this Briefing we illustrate how Israeli society has maintained these principles, upholding the rights of Palestinian and Israeli Arabs, despite violence, anti-Israel incitement, terrorism and conflict. We cover:-

- Israeli Arab politicians and citizens enjoying benefits of Israeli democracy

- Israeli medical services and support for Palestinian society

- Legal challenges by Palestinians to the route of the security fence

- Protection of Arab property rights under Israeli law

- Israel’s relaxation of security measures, which are then sabotaged by terrorism

- Israeli soldiers upholding the lives and interests of Palestinian civilians

- Israeli Rabbi’s condolence visit to Israeli Arab mourners    

These episodes are just illustrations – hundreds more episodes could be mentioned. All links are to Briefings on the Beyond Images website.  See also Briefing 16 on Israeli policy and Jewish ideals.   

Israeli Arab citizens and politicians enjoying benefits of Israeli democracy

  • Israeli Arabs express appreciation for Israeli democracy and their rights as Israeli citizens, when faced with the prospect of a possible border adjustment which would result in them living in a future Palestinian state: see Briefing 82
  • Israeli Arab Knesset members are reinstated to the 2003 general election despite virulently anti-Israel statements: see Briefing 53

Israeli medical services and support for Palestinian society

  • Gaza Palestinian doctor working at Israel’s Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva praises the hospital for the dignity and kindness with which fellow Palestinians are treated, and expresses shock at an attempted suicide bomb attack on the hospital by a Palestinian woman outpatient from Gaza: see Briefing 146
  • Top Israeli medical official explains how Israeli healthcare cooperation with the Palestinians has resulted in the total eradication of tetanus and measles from the Palestinian population; a dramatically reduced death rate among Palestinian newborn children; training projects for Palestinian doctors in open heart and brain surgery; and assistance in opening intensive care units. He cites how in one year alone, 11,000 Palestinians were referred to Israeli hospitals for organ transplantation, treatment for pregnancy complications and other treatments: see Briefing 110       
  • Israeli and Palestinian doctors carry out joint research into the origins of deafness; an Israeli hospital pursues gene research for the benefit of Arab children; an Israeli hospital uses a revolutionary procedure to save the life of an Arab child: see Making the World A Better Place from Beyond Images
  • See generally Israel21c: - for illustrations of medical cooperation, and joint healthcare projects, between Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations

Legal challenges to the security fence route by Palestinians

  • Palestinian Arabs win cases in the Israeli courts to reroute Israel’s security fence. Israel’s top judges uphold the principle that Israel’s defence requirements need to be “balanced” with the needs of the civilian Palestinian population: see Briefing 138 and Briefing 156

Protection of Arab property rights under Israeli law

  • A working group of Israeli government politicians is prevented by Israel’s Attorney-General from passing a measure which could result in the acquisition by Israel of unoccupied Arab-owned land in East Jerusalem: see Briefing 131
  • The property rights of an elderly Israeli Arab woman prevail over the personal security interests of Israel’s Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz in a preliminary hearing taking place in an Israeli Court: see Briefing 109

Israel relaxes security measures… which are then sabotaged by terrorism

  • Israel arranges a pilgrimage by Gaza Palestinians to Mecca which is delayed when a Palestinian gunman attacks the Erez crossing point to be used by the pilgrims to travel: see Briefing 109
  • Israel’s plan to withdraw its soldiers from four Palestinian cities is sabotaged when a Hamas bomber kills 23 Jewish worshippers – including many women and children - leaving the Western Wall on the day before the planned withdrawal, and Israel postpones the withdrawal: see Briefing 68      
  • Palestinian family express outrage with the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade for recruiting their 15 year old son to be a suicide bomber. They accuse the bombing masterminds of sabotaging Israeli steps to improve their day-to-day lives:  see Briefing 143 

Israeli soldiers uphold the lives and interests of Palestinian civilians

  • In the midst of the confrontation with Palestinian gunmen in Jenin, an Israeli Army commanding officer punishes Israeli soldiers for taking beads, fizzy drinks and other small items of personal property from Arab homes in which the soldiers are resting after 48 hours of fighting. He also instructs the soldiers not to drop cigarette ash. (The commander is later shot dead by a Palestinian gunman): see Briefing 97
  • A top Israeli court sets out the humanitarian rules which must be complied with by the Israeli Army when Israel is forced to enter into Palestinian areas to quell missile attacks or destroy bomb-making laboratories. The rules cover the provision of food, water and medical facilities for Palestinian civilians, and evacuation and burial arrangements: see Briefing 98
  • Six Israeli soldiers lose their lives in the course of carrying out a military operation in Gaza on foot so as to minimise the risk of harm to Palestinian civilians: see Briefing 92    

Israeli rabbi’s condolence visit to Israel Arab mourners

  • Israeli Rabbi from a West Bank settlement spends the Jewish sabbath with his wife in an Israeli Arab town to offer condolences to the family of three Arabs killed by an Israeli gunman. At the funeral of the victims he expresses a vision of common humanity, and is greeted by a prolonged ovation: see Briefing 151