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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Amnesty International accuses Israeli military of killing Palestinians in West Bank




By Anushka Patil


Amnesty International said Monday that Israeli forces were killing Palestinians in the West Bank with “near total impunity” as the world’s attention focused on the Gaza Strip, demanding in a new report that the International Criminal Court step up its investigation into Israel’s conduct in the Israeli-occupied area.


In the West Bank, Israeli forces have used live fire to disperse Palestinian protests, attacked people trying to help the injured and carried out deadly arrest raids that have spread fear throughout Palestinian communities, Amnesty International said in its report. It said the Israeli forces’ actions add to the country’s “well-documented track record of using excessive and often lethal force to stifle dissent and enforce its system of apartheid against Palestinians.”


The human rights organization said that Israel’s use of unlawful force in the West Bank had sharply escalated since Oct. 7, when a Hamas-led attack from Gaza killed more than 1,200 people in Israel, according to Israeli authorities. Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed more than 27,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to health officials there.


The Israeli military has described its actions in the West Bank as counterterrorism efforts necessary to prevent further attacks. Israel has strongly denied prior accusations that it has committed the crime of apartheid.


Israeli military operations have raised alarms from several human rights groups, including the United Nations human rights office, which called in December for Israel to “end unlawful killings” of Palestinians in the West Bank and to immediately stop the use of “military weapons and means during law enforcement operations.”


Since Oct. 7, Israeli forces in the West Bank have killed at least 360 Palestinians and injured 4,270, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Sunday. Last year was the deadliest for Palestinians in the West Bank since the office began recording casualties in 2005, and about 70% of those killings were reported during Israeli military operations, OCHA has said.


Amnesty’s report detailed its investigations into four incidents that it said were emblematic of the recent escalation, and renewed its call for the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, to take action. In 2021, the ICC opened an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Israeli-occupied areas, but many Palestinian groups have criticized the pace and focus of the inquiry.


Amnesty’s director for global research and policy, Erika Guevara-Rosas, called for Khan to investigate the killings in the West Bank as possible war crimes, saying in the report that “an international justice system worth its salt must step in.”


Among the incidents investigated by Amnesty was an Israeli raid that began Oct. 19 and lasted more than 24 hours in Nur Shams, an area that originated decades ago as a refugee camp for Palestinians displaced in the wars surrounding the founding of Israel. Israeli forces killed 13 Palestinians during the raid, including six children, according to Amnesty and Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.


One of those killed during the raid, Amnesty said, was Taha Mahamid, an unarmed 15-year-old shot by Israeli forces when he peeked out of his house to see if they had left the area. His father was shot and seriously injured when he went to retrieve Taha’s body, and the family’s home was raided by Israeli forces about 12 hours later, Amnesty said.


One of Taha’s sisters told Amnesty investigators that her brother was shot in the leg, then in his stomach, then in his eye.


“They did not give him a chance,” the human rights group quoted her as saying. “In an instant, my brother was eliminated.”

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