Israeli violence against Palestinians increased in 2022, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a report issued on Monday. The rights group stressed the need for accountability and an end to the impunity that Israel has enjoyed for decades.
In Pulling the trigger is the first resort, Euro-Med revealed that the recorded number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank increased by 82 per cent in 2022 compared with the previous year. The increase was a staggering 491 per cent when compared with 2020.
The majority of Palestinian fatalities were civilians killed by the Israeli occupation army in "unjustified operations and contexts where they presented no imminent threat or danger to the lives of Israeli soldiers or settlers," said Euro-Med's chairman, Ramy Abdu. "The Israeli army's killings and summary executions of Palestinian civilians, as evidenced by its lax open-fire regulations and official protection system for perpetrators of horrific violations, demonstrate that these are state-sanctioned rather than individual actions."
Regardless of whether Israel's government is on the political left, centre, or right, he added, the use of lethal force against Palestinians remains a key element of its policy. "We fear that this year will see a rise in Israeli violence, with extremist decision-makers in power who believe in killing Palestinians and driving them from their land."
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The report provides detailed statistics of the Palestinians killed by Israeli troops and illegal Jewish settlers in 2022: 204 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers, of whom 142 were from the West Bank (69.6 per cent), 37 were from the Gaza Strip (18.1 per cent) and 20 were from Jerusalem (9.8 per cent). Five Arab Israeli citizens were also killed.
According to the Euro-Med report, children made up approximately 20 per cent of victims of Israeli killings in 2022, with 41 children killed in Israeli attacks, as well eight women.
The rights group said that the full support given to the army by the Israeli political echelon is the major reason for the increase in the "unjustified killing and abuse" of Palestinian civilians.
"The behaviour of Israeli forces toward Palestinian civilians reveals Israel's clear disregard for its international obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires parties to a conflict to protect rather than endanger civilians, as well as the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, under which Israeli practices amount to war crimes."
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor called on the European Union to review the implementation of its partnership agreement with the Israeli government in light of Israeli violations against Palestinian civilians. It also urged UN member states and institutions to take urgent action to protect civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ensure investigation and accountability for gross violations and any violations that may constitute war crimes.
The International Criminal Court must commence its investigations without delay, the group added, and handle the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the same manner that it does with similar cases in other regions of the world.