Amnesty International: Israeli forces use excessive force against Palestinians
Israel’s security forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life in their killing of more than 40 Palestinians – including children – in the occupied West Bank over the past three years, with the rate of killings increasing significantly last year.
The findings published in a new 85-page Amnesty International report, Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank – show that there has been mounting bloodshed and human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as a result of the Israeli forces’ use of unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians since January 2011.
Amnesty documented the killings of 22 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank last year, of which at least 14 were in the context of protests – including protests against the longstanding occupation itself as well as against Israel’s security fence/wall, house demolitions and evictions, Israeli military checkpoints, and roads reserved for use by Israeli settlers from which Palestinians are excluded.
Most killings have been of young adults under the age of 25, at least four of whom were children. According to UN figures, more West Bank Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces last year (27) than the total number killed in 2011 (ten) and 2012 (eight) combined, with peaceful protesters, civilian bystanders, human rights activists and journalists among those killed or injured.
In all cases examined by Amnesty, Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life. Several victims were shot in the back suggesting that they were targeted as they tried to flee and posed no genuine threat to the lives of members of Israeli forces or others. In several cases, well-armoured Israeli forces have resorted to lethal means to crack down on stone-throwing protesters causing needless loss of life. There is evidence that some individuals were victims of wilful killings, which would amount to war crimes.
In the last three years at least 261 Palestinians, including 67 children, have been seriously injured by live ammunition fired by Israeli forces in the West Bank. Since January 2011, an astonishing number of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank – more than 8,000, including 1,500 children – have been shot and seriously wounded by other means, including rubber-coated metal bullets and the reckless use of tear gas. In some cases, victims have also died as a result of their use.
Amnesty is calling on the Israeli authorities to instruct their forces to refrain from lethal force – including the use of live fire and rubber-coated bullets – except when strictly necessary to protect lives. It is also urging the USA, the European Union and the rest of the international community to suspend all transfers of munitions, weapons and other equipment to Israel.
Read the full report here