Human Rights Watch | – –
Ramp Up Pressure for Accountability on all Sides
(Jerusalem) – Fifty years after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it controls these areas through repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights, Human Rights Watch said today.
Israeli troops killed well over 2,000 Palestinian civilians in the last three Gaza conflicts (2008-09, 2012, 2014) alone. Many of these attacks amount to violations of international humanitarian law due to a failure to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians. Some amount to war crimes, including the targeting of apparent civilian structures.
In the West Bank, Israeli security forces have routinely used excessive force in policing situations, killing or grievously wounding thousands of demonstrators, rock-throwers, suspected assailants, and others with live ammunition when lesser means could have averted a threat or maintained order.
Armed Palestinian groups also committed war crimes during these conflicts and at other times, including rocket attacks targeting Israeli population centers. Between the start of the first Intifada in December 1987 and the end of February 2017, attacks by Palestinians killed at least 1,079 Israeli civilians, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
Israeli official investigations into alleged security force abuses during the Gaza conflicts and in policing situations failed to hold the abusers accountable, with rare exceptions. Palestinian authorities have also failed to investigate violations and hold those responsible to account.
Israeli authorities have since 1967 facilitated the transfer of its civilians to the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In 1967, Israel established two settlements in the West Bank: Kfar Etzion and East Talpiot; by 2017, Israel had established 237 settlements there, housing approximately 580,000 settlers. Israel applies Israeli civil law to settlers, affording them legal protections, rights, and benefits that are not extended to Palestinians living in the same territory who are subjected to Israeli military law. Israel provides settlers with infrastructure, services, and subsidies that it denies to Palestinians, creating and sustaining a separate and unequal system of law, rules, and services.
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