The annual report from the Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem has revealed that twenty-seven Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire in the occupied West Bank during 2013; nine people were killed in the Gaza Strip. The corresponding figure for 2012 was 246 Palestinians shot dead by the Israel Defence Forces, 167 of whom were killed during so-called Operation Pillar of Defence.
According to B'Tselem, nine fatal shootings occurred when Israeli soldiers entered Palestinian villages and cities to arrest people. On four occasions, soldiers were pelted with stones and on another four there was an exchange of live fire.
In the Gaza strip, says B'Tselem, four of the Palestinians were killed during fighting against the Israeli occupation army; three of those killed were bystanders. One of the dead Palestinians was the victim of a targeted assassination; B'Tselem was not able to verify the details of how the other was killed.
Although it is the policy of the IDF to open investigations into incidents that lead to the killing of Palestinians where Israelis are involved, in 14 cases only one led to an indictment; an Israeli soldier was sentenced to seven months in prison as part of a plea bargain after being convicted of causing the death of Uday Darwish, who was shot at the Mitar checkpoint. Twelve incidents are still under investigation.
The Director General of B'Tselem, Jessica Montal, criticised the investigation procedures used by the military police, describing them as slow and complex, with decisions made years after the incident takes place. She stressed that any process that does not bring about any meaningful punishment for the killing of Palestinians is not a deterrent and demonstrates disregard for human life.