Israel escalates war on all fronts against Palestinians
Human rights organization B’Tselem pointed to Israel’s massive increase in attacks on Palestinians in 2021, the deadliest year since Israel’s criminal attack on Gaza in 2014.
According to B’Tselem, Israeli security forces have killed 313 Palestinians in the Palestinian territories they have illegally occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war: 236 in the Gaza Strip, almost all of them during the 11-day assault in May, and 77 in the West Bank. and East Jerusalem. Six others were killed at the hands of soldiers or armed settlers. A further 25 Palestinians from Gaza were killed by rockets fired at Israel that landed in Gaza, while it was unclear whether another eight were killed by Israeli forces or by Palestinian rocket fire. In the West Bank, Israel’s de facto contractors, the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces, killed two Palestinians during their arrest.
Of the 232 Palestinians killed by the army in the May assault on Gaza, at least 137 were noncombatants, including 53 minors and 38 women, many of whom were killed in the criminal bombardment of densely populated areas, a a constant feature of Israel’s operations. . While senior Israeli officials say lethal shooting is used as a “last resort” in accordance with Israeli and international law, it is clearly routine with no one held accountable.
B’Tselem investigated 336 incidents of settler violence, down from 251 in 2020, that left at least eight Palestinian civilians dead, including two minors, at the hands of security forces or settlers that occurred during the weeks of protests against the establishment of the illegal outpost of Eviatar on Palestinian land. The violence was not just the act of a few unruly settlers out of control, but a strategy to grab more and more Palestinian land with the full support of the army and the government.
Following an agreement with the government in June, the 50 settlers of Eviatar agreed to leave and allow Israeli troops to establish a base in the area, while the Ministry of Defense studied territorial claims to determine whether it was necessary to recognize a future colony.
Since then, Israeli soldiers have blocked Palestinian farmers from accessing hundreds of dunams (a dunam equals a quarter of an acre) of their own land, blocked agricultural roads and repeatedly damaged them. On July 9, soldiers fired on Palestinian protesters, injuring nearly 400 people, making it clear that the settlement would gain government approval.
Civilian Deaths and Israel’s Rules of Engagement
In addition to killing and injuring Palestinian protesters, soldiers killed at least 36 Palestinians, including four minors and five women, accused of attacking or attempting to attack Israeli security forces or civilians with a car, a knife, a gun or even stones. B’Tselem cited two of the most egregious examples of such illegal shootings: the killing of Osama Mansur, who did not endanger the soldiers’ lives and was mistakenly suspected of having tried to crush them; and of Fahmeyeh al-Hrub, 60, who was slowly moving towards the soldiers who killed her.
Together with demands by right-wing settler groups for the military to stop ‘tying hands’ with Israeli soldiers in the Western ban, citing such attacks provides the context for the decision taken last month by the he military, which for years has granted its soldiers virtually full immunity and little legal accountability, to revise its rules of engagement (RoE) over its open-fire policies in the occupied West Bank. Under the new rules, Israeli soldiers can shoot or even kill fleeing Palestinians, including children, for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli “civilian” cars, even when they no longer pose a threat. By “civilians,” the new army manual refers to armed settlers who seized land in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and killed and injured scores of Palestinians over the decades. The new rules of engagement do not apply to armed settlers who assault or attempt to assault soldiers.
Security forces now have carte blanche to shoot to kill, without fear of reprisals in court as they act in accordance with the army’s operations manual. This allows Israel to plead in any investigation of human rights violations and war crimes in the occupied territories by the International Criminal Court that no war crimes have been committed, since the killing of Palestinians has was perpetrated in accordance with the Israeli military code and judicial system. .
Israel’s soldiers and police have become judge, jury and executioner, free from coercion.
Israeli authorities demolished 295 residential buildings in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the highest number since 2016, rendering 895 Palestinians, including 463 children, homeless; in addition to 548 non-residential buildings, including warehouses, agricultural structures, cisterns, businesses and public structures, the highest number since 2012.
Israel uses the 1945 emergency statutes, inherited from the British Mandate, in the occupied territories to claim that these demolitions were a matter of “law enforcement” because the houses and structures were built without permits. In the 1950s, Menachem Begin, leader of the Irgun terror gang and future Likud prime minister, considered this legislation when used against Jews to be “worse than Nazi legislation”.
The use of these laws serves to block almost all Palestinian development in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while giving a green light to settlement expansion. The Palestinians have no choice but to build without a permit, which serves as a pretext for the Israeli authorities to issue demolition orders.
Last month, Menachem Mazuz, a former attorney general and judge on Israel’s highest court, said Ha’aretz that he considers house demolitions collective punishment, illegal and immoral, as well as ineffective. His frustration with the issue was a key reason for his departure from the court in 2020, about five years before his term expires.
Arrests, imprisonment and administrative detention
A report by several Palestinian organizations, including the Prisoners Affairs Commission, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, revealed that the Israeli army had arrested near of 8,000 Palestinians in 2021, including more than 1,300 minors and 184 women.
There were around 4,600 prisoners and detainees, including 34 women and one girl and around 160 children and minors, in Israeli jails. Some 547 prisoners were serving life sentences. According to the Palestinian News and News Agency (WAFA), Israel holds 10 journalists in its prisons, while 384 Israeli violations against journalists in the West Bank were recorded in 2021.
Addameer said there were around 500 people, including nine members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and four minors, in administrative detention – indefinite detention by military authorities based on secret evidence, without charge or trial. It’s a practice that Michael Lynk, the UN human rights expert who monitors the occupied territories, called “anathema to any democratic society that upholds the rule of law”.
Last month, Israeli military officials feared the death of Hisham Abu Hawash, 40, who had been on a four-month hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention, could spark civil unrest in the West Bank and Gaza. , suspended his detention saying his failing health meant he was no longer a danger to the state.
Nearly 600 prisoners were sick, including several with cancer. On Tuesday, rallies were held in the West Bank in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israel, with calls for the release of Nasser Abu Hamid, who is battling cancer in custody. Qadura Fares, the head of PPS, a prisoners’ rights group, said Israel “practices slow murder” of Palestinian prisoners out of “medical negligence”.