Friday, October 30, 2020

Human rights groups criticise Israeli “excessive force”

By Cath And - October 17, 2015
Section: [Main News] [Features]

Early in the morning of Sunday Oct. 4, 19 year old Palestinian Fadi Alloun was shot and killed by Israeli forces after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack near the Old City of Jerusalem.

Footage released of the incident shows Alloun attempting to run away whilst voices can be heard yelling “Shoot him! It’s a terrorist--shoot him!”

In the video, Alloun does not appear to pose an immediate threat to those around him, yet at least eight shots are fired by Israeli forces, and Alloun drops to the ground.

The knife attack allegedly perpetrated by Fadi Alloun was the second in a string of attacks against Israelis which have taken place across Israel and the West Bank since Oct. 3.

Of the suspects, at least fifteen have been shot and killed by Israeli forces on the scene, in what some are labelling “extrajudicial executions.”

Tahseen Elayyan, the Head of the Monitoring and Documentation Department at Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq, told the Palestine Monitor that, “international law puts strong restrictions on the use of firearms by law enforcement officials.”

Elayyan went on the explain that firearms should only be used as a last resort, citing the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials which states, “intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

In recent weeks, the use of firearms often does not appear to have been a last resort.

On Oct. 9 in Afula, northern Israel, a Palestinian woman allegedly attempted to stab a security guard in the central bus station.

In a video released apparently showing the moments after the incident, the woman can be seen surrounded by soldiers. She appears to be holding an object in her hand, but does not seem to be posing any threat to the soldiers, yet the Israeli forces open fire on the woman.

Tahseen Elayyan told the Palestine Monitor that, “in all of the recent killing cases that Al-Haq has monitored and documented the lives of persons (especially soldiers) was not under immediate threat.”

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Sari Bashi, the Israel-Palestine Country Director of Human Rights Watch, stated, “lethal force can only be used when strictly necessary to protect life. That is not the pattern we are seeing, not in demonstrations, and not in the apprehension of suspects.”

In a statement signed by nine human rights organisations including B’Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, this pattern was described as a “worrying trend,” and it was noted that, “in instances when Jews have been suspected of attacks, none of the suspects has been shot.”

In recent weeks, the use of excessive force by Israeli forces has extended beyond the shooting of those allegedly involved in knife attacks.

In its weekly report released Wednesday, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza stated that during the reporting period, “Israeli forces have escalated the use of excessive lethal force against peaceful protests in occupied Palestinian territory.”

The centre continued by describing the “bloody escalation and blatant disregard by Israeli forces for the lives of Palestinian civilians” during the reporting period.

On Oct. 8, Human Rights Watch criticised Israel for its “excessive use of lethal force” against Palestinian protesters during clashes which have swept across the West Bank in recent weeks.

At least four Palestinians have been shot and killed by Israeli forces during these protests, leading Human Rights Watch to condemn Israel for its failure, “to ensure that its police and army comply with international standards for the use of force.”

Amnesty International has also weighed in on the topic, condemning “the widespread use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinian demonstrators across the occupied West Bank.”

It has urged Israel “to halt the use of excessive force and unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces” and recommends that Israel “ensure that Israeli troops, police and civilians responsible for unlawful attacks on Palestinian civilians in the OPT are held accountable.”

Israeli authorities have not expressed any willingness to carry out investigations into the killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces.

Referring to the Israeli forces’ “shoot to kill” policy, Tahseen Elayyan told the Palestine Monitor that, “based on intensive investigation that Al-Haq conducted into cases that has taken place over the past few months, Al-Haq came to the conclusion that this is extrajudicial killing, which may amount to war crime that entails individual criminal responsibility.”

Instead of investigating these cases, since the beginning of the recent escalation of violence across the region, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been seeking to alter the rules of engagement for Israeli forces, in order to expand the parameters by which the use of “excessive force” can fit within the law.

Northern Irish peace activist and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Mairead Maguire, wrote an article published Oct. 10, expressing shock at the lack of “international outrage” at Israel’s recent use of brutal force.

Maguire labels Netanyahu’s new rules of engagement “draconian measures” and explains that “this increased use of lethal force against a civilian population is in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and could be described as a 'Shoot to kill policy’.”

The Fourth Geneva Convention outlines the requirements of states to protect civilians in times of war, and  prohibits “the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court.”

On Oct. 10, Al-Haq described Palestine as being “on the brink”, stating that “Palestinians have been killed and injured throughout the OPT and in Israel at an alarming rate.”

At least 37 Palestinians have now been killed by Israeli forces since Oct. 1. Many human rights advocates would claim that the majority of these deaths have been avoidable, and the killings are thus a direct violation of international law.




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