Since the beginning of the current wave of violence, there has been a worrying trend to use firearms to kill Palestinians who have attacked Israelis or are suspected of such attacks. Several incidents have been documented and reported, raising concern that the chosen response to such persons is the harshest possible, with lethal or – at the very least – unnecessary consequences. In instances when Jews have been suspected of attacks, none of the suspects has been shot.
Politicians and senior police officers have not only failed to act to calm the public climate of incitement, but on the contrary have openly called for the extrajudicial killing of suspects. They have also urged civilians to carry weapons. For example, Jerusalem District Police Commander Moshe Edri was quoted as saying: “Anyone who stabs Jews or hurts innocent people is due to be killed.” Interior Security Minister Gilad Arden declared that “every terrorist should know that he will not survive the attack he is about to commit.” MK Yair Lapid stated that “you have to shoot to kill anyone who pulls out a knife or screwdriver.” Much of the media joined in and encouraged a similar approach. The bodies responsible for supervising police operations – the State Attorney’s Office and the Department for the Investigation of Police – remained silent in the face of these comments.
No-one disputes the serious nature of the events of recent days, nor the need to protect the public against stabbing and other attacks. However, it seems that too often, instead of acting in a manner consistent with the nature of each incident, police officers and soldiers are quick to shoot to kill. The political and public support for such actions endorses the killing Palestinians in the Territories and in Israel.
Rather than imposing collective punishment on Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government should act to end the reality of ongoing and daily oppression faced by some four million people who live without hope of any change in the situation, without any horizon for the end of occupation, and without prospects for a life of liberty and dignity. The statement is signed by the following organizations:
Association for Civil Rights in Israel
Amnesty International – Israel Branch
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual
Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights
Adalah – The Legal Center for the Rights of the Arab Minority in Israel
Physician for Human Rights – Israel