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Israel ‘displaying chilling disregard for Palestinian lives’ in occupied West Bank, says Amnesty

February 7, 2024 at 9:29 am

Funeral ceremony held for Ahmad Mousa Mohamed Jabbarin and Jalal Isa Mohamed Jabbarin who killed during Israeli raid in Hebron city, on January 15, 2024, in West Bank [Mamoun Wazwaz – Anadolu Agency]

With the world’s eyes fixed on Gaza, Israeli forces have over the past four months unleashed a brutal wave of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Amnesty International has reported. Troops are carrying out unlawful killings, including by using lethal force without necessity or disproportionately during protests and arrest raids, and denying medical assistance to injured Palestinians.

The organisation has investigated four emblematic cases where Israeli forces used unlawful lethal force – three incidents in October and one in November – which resulted in the unlawful killing of 20 Palestinians, including seven children. Amnesty’s research also found that Israeli forces obstructed medical assistance to people with life-threatening wounds and attacked those attempting to assist injured Palestinians, including paramedics.

Over the past few months Israel has stepped up deadly raids across the West Bank and tensions have skyrocketed. In one recent incident Israeli forces carried out a raid masquerading as medical staff. At least 507 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank in 2023, including at least 81 children, making it the deadliest year for Palestinians since the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) began recording casualties in 2005.

“Under the cover of the relentless bombardment and atrocity crimes in Gaza, Israeli forces have unleashed unlawful lethal force against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, carrying out unlawful killings and displaying a chilling disregard for Palestinian lives,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Research, Advocacy and Policy. “These unlawful killings are in blatant violation of international human rights law and are committed with impunity in the context of maintaining Israel’s institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination over Palestinians.”

Such cases provide shocking evidence of the deadly consequences of Israel’s unlawful use of force against Palestinians in the West Bank.

“Israeli authorities, including the Israeli judicial system, have proven shamefully unwilling to ensure justice for Palestinian victims. In this climate of near total impunity, an international justice system worth its salt must step in. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court must investigate these killings and injuries as possible war crimes of wilful killing and wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury. The situation in Palestine and Israel is a litmus test for the legitimacy and reputation of the court. It cannot afford to fail it.”

Since 7 October, across the occupied West Bank, Israeli security forces’ use of unlawful force during law enforcement operations has been unrelenting, sowing fear and intimidation among entire communities; it has also been used to disperse rallies and protests held in solidarity with Gaza and demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees.

Between 7 October and 31 December 2023, 299 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank, marking a 50 per cent increase compared with the first nine months of the year. At least 61 further Palestinians, including 13 children, have been killed so far in 2024 as of 29 January, according to OCHA.

Amnesty International sent requests for information on the four cases investigated to the Israeli military’s spokesperson unit and to the Jerusalem District Commander on 26 November. At the time of publication, no response had been received. Amnesty is continuing to investigate other cases of excessive force during law enforcement operations, such as the repeated raids and attacks in Jenin and Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank.

Israel has a well-documented track record of using excessive and often lethal force to stifle dissent and enforce its system of apartheid against Palestinians leading to a historic pattern of unlawful killings committed with impunity.

Since 7 October, Israeli forces have stepped up raids, carrying them out almost daily across the occupied West Bank in what it describes as search and arrest operations. Over 54 per cent of the 4,382 Palestinians injured in the West Bank were injured during such operations, according to OCHA.

The full Amnesty report can be found here.

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