Appeal in Israel Against Training Policemen Accused Of Abuse in Kashmir

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An Indian army officer in Srinagar displays the Tavor-21, an Israeli-made rifle [File: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters]

Doha: Dozens of Israeli activists have petitioned the Supreme Court of the Jewish state seeking to bar the country’s security forces from training Indian police officers involved in “severe violations” of human rights and international law in Kashmir.

“With this petition, we are trying our best to show solidarity with the people of Kashmir,” Al Jazeera quoted Israeli human rights activist Sigal Kook Avivi, one among 40 people behind the petition, as saying.

The document was signed in January after the Israeli Police, Ministry of Internal Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to pre-screen members of Indian police force from J&K, according to Israeli human rights lawyer Eitay Mack, who filed the petition. As Israel returned to a second nationwide coronavirus lockdown last week, court proceedings are likely to be further delayed.

“The fact that India is ‘the largest democracy in the world’, and is an important political and economic partner of the state of Israel and Western countries, cannot legally and morally justify providing assistance to specific Indian officers who are involved in grave crimes under international law in Kashmir, by way of training by police in Israel,” the petition stated.

Avivi, who has worked among African asylum seekers in Israel, said “as citizens of the world, we want to say we know what is happening to you, we are not ignorant … we see it, we hear it, we know it”.

In May, the Israeli government asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition, as any attempt to investigate or screen Indian police officers would be considered an intervention into India’s internal affairs – which could damage relations between the two nations.

India and Israel signed a comprehensive agreement in 2014 to cooperate on issues related to “public and homeland security”, including fighting organised crime, money laundering, human trafficking and counterterrorism operations.

International rights groups have accused Israeli forces of using excessive force against Palestinians and restricting their movements in territories Israel occupies illegally.

The use of live ammunition, shooting civilians at checkpoints, torture of detainees, arrest of children and extrajudicial killings are well-documented since Israel occupied large parts of Palestine in 1967.

Avivi said, in light of Israel’s ill-treatment of Palestinians and migrants in the occupied territories, it was vital to understand that the country’s forces training military and police abroad “ends up further hurting people around the world”.

More than half a million Indian forces are deployed in Kashmir – home to some 12 million people – to quell a decades-old armed rebellion against Indian rule.

‘We can’t sit quietly’

Activist Avivi and Knesset member Cassif both have little optimism, if at all, that the case can be won in the Israeli Supreme Court, citing previous examples when the court dismissed similar petitions.

In July, the court dismissed a petition demanding that foreign diplomats who were war criminals should be refused visits to Israel’s Holocaust Memorial. The court said it could not interfere in the diplomatic issues and choices of the Israeli government.

Cassif said if the court were to rule in their favour, “to a certain extent, it would be unprecedented”. Despite what the final ruling may be, Avivi said she and the petitioners wanted their opposition to be on paper.

“We understand that it [the petition] won’t be successful, but we can’t just sit quietly,” Avivi said, according to Al Jazeera.

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