Amnesty International has urged Israeli authorities to end the use of “excessive force” against protesters in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), accusing Israeli forces of “arbitrary” and “abusive” violence against unarmed civilians.
In a statement released yesterday, the international human rights group drew attention to Palestinian casualties over the last two weeks, with four killed and more than 3,000 injured by Israeli forces during demonstrations in the opt.
Amnesty described Israeli forces’ use of live ammunition against protesters as “particularly alarming”, citing the killing on 15 December of Ibrahim Abu Thurraya, who it says was “shot in the head” by an Israeli soldier from 15 metres away as he sat “with a group of young protesters”.
Referring to eyewitness accounts, Amnesty says Abu Thurraya was “waving a Palestinian flag and chanting slogans”, and “in possession of a slingshot, which he did not use”.
“Israeli authorities must stop using excessive force against protesters once and for all. The fact that live ammunition has been used during protests in Gaza and the West Bank is particularly shocking,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Under international human rights law lethal force can only be used when lives are at imminent risk, which clearly was not the case in the examples we have documented,” he added.
According to Luther: “Israeli authorities have consistently refused to investigate killings of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers or police or at least not done so to international standards.”
As long as Israeli officers are not held to account for abusing their powers, the pattern of unlawful killings will continue, and Palestinians will be denied their right to peaceful protest without fear of injury or death.
The senior Amnesty official urged Israel to “properly investigate all incidents in which arbitrary and otherwise abusive force appears to have been used and bring those suspected of being responsible to justice”, and “reform its investigation systems to ensure their impartiality and independence.”