Amnesty International has accused Israeli forces of displaying “an appalling disregard for human life by using reckless and unlawful lethal force against Palestinians”, in a new statement timed to coincide with the anniversary of an uptick in violence dated 1 October 2015.
The international human rights group says it sent a memorandum to the Israeli authorities on 14 September detailing 20 cases of “apparently unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces seeking clarification about the status of investigations.”
In at least 15 of the cases, Amnesty says: “Palestinians were deliberately shot dead, despite posing no imminent threat to life, in what appear to be extrajudicial executions.”
The Israeli authorities have not responded to Amnesty International’s concerns. The full memo sent by Amnesty can be viewed online here.
According to Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, the “worrying rise in unlawful killings by Israeli forces” over the last year has been “fostered by a culture of impunity.”
Of the 20 incidents highlighted by Amnesty, “an indictment has been filed against a soldier in only one case. In many cases where there appears to be evidence of an extrajudicial execution, there is not even an open criminal investigation.”
Amnesty says that its research shows how Israel’s “military justice system consistently fails to deliver justice for Palestinian victims of unlawful killings and their families.”
The conduct of the Police Internal Investigations Department with regard to allegations of unlawful killings carried out by the Israel Police also raises serious questions about their ability to carry out impartial and independent investigations.
Luther added: “Relatives of Israelis killed by Palestinians can count on a state that aggressively pursues the attackers – and often oversteps the bounds of legality in that pursuit. Palestinians, on the other hand, do not have anyone to protect their rights.”
“The Israeli government must urgently reform its investigation systems so that it can fulfil this duty and bring those responsible for extrajudicial executions to justice.”
In a 2014 Amnesty report, “Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank”, the NGO “documented 19 apparently unlawful killings, including three cases where there was evidence of wilful killings, which amount to war crimes.”