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Friday, October 21, 2016

By Batsheva Sobelman, Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM — Israeli security forces use excessive force against Palestinians in the West Bank and display “callous disregard” for human life, Amnesty International said Thursday.

In a report called “Trigger-Happy: Israel’s Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank,” the human rights organization says Israeli soldiers and police killed 45 Palestinians since 2011, nearly half of them last year.

In all cases examined by the organization, the Palestinians killed did not appear to pose a direct or immediate threat to life, Amnesty said. In some cases, the organization said it found “evidence that they were victims of willful killings.”

The findings point to a “harrowing pattern of unlawful killings and unwarranted injuries” of Palestinian civilians, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther said in a press release.

In addition to 261 Palestinians seriously injured by live fire in the same period, 8,000 were wounded by other means, including tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets, many during demonstrations against Israel’s policies.

Amnesty urged Israel to refrain from use of lethal force unless explicitly necessary to protect lives and to respect Palestinian rights to “peaceful assembly.” The report urged the international community to suspend all weapons transfers to Israel.

The Israeli army rejected the report. In a statement issued Wednesday before Amnesty’s publication, the army said the organization ignored the sharp increase in Palestinian violence over the past year, including rock throwing, shootings and improvised explosive devices.

According to the statement, the Israeli army authorizes use of precision munitions only where non-lethal means of crowd control, including water cannons and tear gas, “have been exhausted and human life and safety remains under threat.”

Rejecting Amnesty’s statements that forces operate with “near total impunity” and that the Israeli investigative system is “woefully inadequate,” the army maintained it abides by “the highest of professional standards.” Any suspicion of wrongdoing is investigated, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The Jerusalem-based group NGO Monitor dismissed the report as flawed and impartial. Calling the accusations “reckless and blatantly biased,” founder Gerald Steinberg charged that Amnesty “lacks the expertise and credibility to analyze or assign blame for deaths” in this context.

The group described Amnesty’s related research team as individuals with “backgrounds in anti-Israeli political activism,” not military and legal expertise.

Also Thursday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian in the West Bank.

According to Israeli military officials, soldiers were carrying out an operation in the West Bank village of Bir Zeit overnight for the arrest of wanted suspects.

Israeli media reported that two Palestinians were arrested overnight while a third holed up inside a house in Bir Zeit, surrounded by Israeli forces calling him to turn himself in.

According to an official army tweet, he was a “terrorist” who resisted arrest, forcing troops to shoot him.

Palestinian media identified the victim as Muatazz Washaha, 24. Witnesses told Maan news agency Washaha was shot in the head. An assault rifle was found in the house but had not been fired at Israeli troops at any point, according to Palestinian media.

Photo: Downing Street via Flickr

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Considering the lessons the Zionists learned in Europe in the 30s and 40s, the only thing that surprises me is the Israeli government has not required the Palestinians to wear green badges with the star and crescent on them to identify them as Muslims!

  • Barbara Morgan

    Not surprised to read what Israel’s military and government had to say about the report nor their denials of wrong doing. When will people realize that Palestine and other Muslim countries are not the only countries in the Middle East that has terrorists living there so does Israel and some of the worst are members of the military and government leaders of Israel. Israel was created from land claimed by European Jews saying it was there promised land. In my Bible the promised land was promised to Abraham and his descendants not to all Jews and the European Jews that settled in Israel are not descendants of Abraham but a Jew that lived in Northern Europe. According to many historians and DNA experts many Palestine are more likely to be the descendants of Abraham and the slave woman that had his first son than the Jews from Europe are his descendants his son Isaac that he had with his wife Sarah.