Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday condemned Israel’s ostensible policy of using lethal force to subdue Palestinian attackers and described the recent shooting deaths of several Palestinian assailants as “extrajudicial executions.”
The response to the wave of recent stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians and security forces indicated that a “clear pattern has emerged of lethal force being used unlawfully by Israeli forces,” the NGO’s Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther said in the report.
Israel rejected the report as “fundamentally flawed.”
Amnesty said its research uncovered at least four incidents in which Israeli security forces used intentional and excessive force against assailants who were “deliberately shot dead by Israeli forces when they posed no imminent threat to life, in what appear to have been extrajudicial executions.”
“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,” the report said.
“Israeli forces must end this pattern of unlawful killings and bring all those responsible to justice,” it added.
Although Israeli civilians and security forces in recent weeks faced “genuine attacks and threats to their lives,” Luther said that it did not absolve Israeli security forces from their duty to use “proportionate and graduated force and attempt to arrest suspects before resorting to the use of lethal force.”
Citing a number of eyewitness accounts, the rights group disputed the Israel Defense Forces’ version of events in a number of recent incidents.
The report said the military’s explanation for the fatal shooting of Hadeel al-Hashlamon in September was “contradicted by statements made by the two eyewitnesses interviewed by Amnesty International.”
Israel said soldiers opened fire on the 18-year-old Palestinian as she attempted to stab a soldier at a checkpoint in Hebron. Local residents cited by Amnesty said she was shot “in cold blood,” and reported soldiers prevented medical personnel from treating the wounded woman for “at least half an hour.”
Amnesty has previously leveled harsh criticism against Israel, including in a 2014 report that described Israel’s 50-day war with Hamas in Gaza that year as being marked by “callous indifference and involved war crimes.”
Israel rejected the report as “fundamentally flawed in its methodologies, in its facts, in its legal analysis and in its conclusions.”