Evidence of extra-judicial killings and death threats against women
During the course of the past month there is evidence that Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank are increasingly resorting to extra-judicial killing, mass intimidation and collective punishment in order to maintain their grip on Palestinian territory in violation of basic international norms.
According to a recent statement published by Amnesty International (“Israeli Forces in Occupied Palestinian Territories Must End Pattern of Unlawful Killings”): “[T]here is mounting evidence that, as tensions have risen dramatically, in some cases Israeli forces have ripped up the rule book and resorted to extreme and unlawful measures. They seem increasingly prone to using lethal force against anyone they perceive as posing a threat, without ensuring the threat is real.” According to Amnesty: “Intentional lethal force should only be used when absolutely necessary to protect life. Instead we are increasingly seeing Israeli forces recklessly flouting international standards by shooting to kill in situations where it is completely unjustified. Israeli forces must end this pattern of unlawful killings and bring all those responsible to justice.”
These findings appear to be supported by data released by the UN which indicates that since the start of the recent upsurge in violence for every Israeli death, 7 Palestinians have been killed (64 Palestinians versus 9 Israelis). The ratio is even starker when it comes to injuries with 99 Palestinians injured for every Israeli (7,335 Palestinians versus 74 Israelis) raising concern that a policy of using disproportionate force has been adopted.
During the same period WCLAC has also observed what appears to be a dramatic increase in violent night raids conducted by the Israeli military on Palestinian homes and a corresponding increase in the level of threatening behaviour, including threats to shoot family members, including women, if they spoke. Some recent examples of raids that occurred on just one night in October include the following:
On 20 October 2015, Sahar R. reports that around 80 Israeli soldiers surrounded her home in the town of Beit Furik at 4:30 a.m. and blew open her front door before it could be opened. She reports that the soldiers then made her 10-year-old son, Ibrahim, stand facing a wall with arms and one leg raised for two hours. He was so terrified by the experience that Sahar found Ibrahim in this position even after the soldiers had departed. She also reports that a soldier threatened to shoot her when she asked to say goodbye to her other son who was taken away by the military.
On 20 October 2015, Tamam K. reports that around 20 Israeli soldiers broke down the front door of her home in the town of Beit Furik at 3:30 a.m. She reports that the soldiers immediately went to the bedroom of her 22-year-old son and poured water over him and prodded him with their rifles to wake him up. When Tamam tried to intervene the soldiers threatened to kill her son unless she was quiet. Tamam reports that her 3-year-old son then woke up and was terrified to see soldiers inside their home.
On 20 October 2015, Samira H. reports that around 40 Israeli soldiers entered her home in the Balata refugee camp at 2:30 a.m. She reports that the soldiers knocked her 27-year-old daughter, Nivin to the ground when she opened the door. When Samira’s husband complained to the commander about their daughter’s treatment he was told to shut up. Samira’s 30-year-old son was detained without explanation and transferred to Megiddo prison inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.
WCLAC is also receiving reports that parents of minors who have been detained by the Israeli military are increasingly having their work permits revoked or torn up at checkpoints as a form of collective punishment used in an attempt to control Palestinians living under military occupation.
Although there has been a jump in the level of violence during the past month, it is important to recall that violent night raids have been a regular part of Palestinian life since June 1967. According to a recent submission lodged by WCLAC with the UN, since 1967 at least 65,000 night raids have been conducted by the Israeli military in the West Bank alone (not including East Jerusalem). The submission concluded that the primary intention behind these night raids is to intimidate Palestinians living in close proximity to Israeli settlements. Significantly, the submission notes that the overwhelming majority of night raids occur within 2 km of an Israeli settlement built in violation of international law including multiple binding UN Security Council resolutions.