The Israeli government continued to enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights; restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip; and facilitate the unlawful transfer of Israeli citizens to settlements in the occupied West Bank.
In 2019, Israeli occupation forces use excessive lethal force, killing 149 Palestinians, including 33 minors. Of the casualties, 112 were killed in the Gaza Strip, 37 in the West Bank and three within Israel.
Most of these deaths were a direct outcome of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and military and backed by the “Israeli legal system.”
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court’s announcement, that there is a basis for investigating possible war crimes by Israel relating to some aspects of this policy, is unavoidable in light of Israel’s refusal to change it.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed 112 Palestinians, including seven women and 33 minors.
Israel carried out numerous attacks in the Gaza Strip throughout 2019. In two rounds of attacking in May and November, Israel killed 60 people, almost half of whom – 27, including six women and 10 minors of civilans. One strike, on 14 November, killed nine members of the a-Sawarkah family.
In 2019, The Great Return March continued near the Gaza-Israel fence almost every week. Israeli occupation forces killed 32 Palestinians in the protests throughout 2019, including 12 minors, six of them under the age of 16.
Israeli occupation forces have responded to the peaceful protests, which began in 2018, by implementing an immoral and unlawful policy of opening live fire against unarmed demonstrators on the Gaza Strip near the apartheid Israeli fence.
In 2019, 27 demonstrators were killed in this way, including one woman and nine minors. Another four demonstrators were killed by teargas canisters striking them in the head, and one was killed after being struck in the head by a stun grenade fired from a launcher.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces killed 37 Palestinians, including five minors.
Three Palestinians were killed, one of them, 17-year-old volunteer paramedic Sajed Muzhar, was shot and killed as he approached to treat an injured person in a-Duheisheh Refugee Camp.
Another person, 21-year-old Muhammad ‘Abeid from al-‘Esawiyah, was shot and killed by occupation forces. All four were lethally shot despite posing no danger to the lives of forces or other individuals.
Six of the casualties in the West Bank were killed. According to B’Tselem investigation, none of the persons killed had posed any danger at the time of their death. One of them, 22-year-old ‘Omar al-Badawi from al-‘Arrub Refugee Camp, did not even take part in the clashes in the camp. He was shot by a soldier while trying to put out a fire started by a Molotov cocktail that landed near his house, and died soon after.
In another case, 15-year-old ‘Abdallah Gheith was lethally shot by Israeli occupation forces as he tried to enter “Israel” in order to pray in Jerusalem. Two months earlier, 22-year-old Ahmad Manasrah was shot and killed while he was attempting to help a family whose car stopped in the middle of the road, after soldiers unjustifiably opened fire at the father and killed him.
Another 12 Palestinians were killed when they were accused of assaulting Israeli occupation forces– with knives or by driving vehicles.
According to B’Tselem investigation, at least five were found to have posed no immediate danger to Israeli forces or other individuals, and they could have been stopped with other, less injurious means. The circumstances in which two of them, Amir Daraj and Yusuf ‘Anqawi, were killed raise grave suspicion that the lethal fire occurred long after they committed the alleged assault.
Israeli civilians killed two Palestinians who took part in clashes. One of them, 38-year-old father of two Hamdi Na’asan, was shot in the back by settlers who attacked his village. Israeli occupation forces who were nearby did not defend the residents, leaving them to fend off the assailants themselves.
Three Palestinians, including a woman and her infant niece, were killed in the Gaza Strip by rockets that Palestinians fired towards Israel but which landed inside Gaza.
B’Tselem’s investigation found that almost all the incidents in which Israeli occupation forces killed Palestinians in 2019 were the result of the reckless open-fire policy Israel implements in the Occupied Territories.
In the Gaza Strip, this includes bombing densely-populated areas and giving patently unlawful orders that permit live fire at unarmed demonstrators by the fence with Israel. These orders, sanctioned by the Supreme Court, are still in place, although the military itself admitted in July 2019 that as a result it kills people for no reason.
In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the policy includes shooting to kill in instances defined as “incidents of assault”, even when these means are unjustified, and opening live fire in circumstances that do not entail mortal danger to occupation forces.
Israel continues to implement this longstanding open-fire policy, despite its horrific, predictable outcomes, and it is fully backed by the government, the Israeli military and both the civilian and military legal systems.
Therefore, arguing that the Israeli occupation forces abide by the law and investigates every suspected breach is adding insult to injury.
No-one investigates the policy itself or the officials who formulate it, and the Israeli military law enforcement system focuses on isolated incidents defined as “exceptional”. Moreover, the rare investigations that are carried out are then whitewashed.
Source: Days of Palestine