TEL AVIV – The Obama administration accused Israel of “excessive use of force” against Palestinians during the current wave of Palestinian terrorism.
An annual State Department human rights report accused Israeli forces of “arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, often with impunity” of Palestinians. It also said that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas were guilty of the same infractions.
According to numbers cited in the report, 149 Palestinians were killed in 2015 by Israeli security forces, but only 77 were in the course of attacking Israelis.
“There were numerous reports of the ISF [Israel security forces] killing Palestinians during riots, demonstrations, at checkpoints, and during routine operations; in some cases they did not pose a threat to life,” the report said.
The IDF’s own statistics found that two-thirds of Palestinians killed since the upsurge in violence started in October were in the midst of attempting or carrying out attacks and the rest died in clashes with security forces.
The report comes after Secretary of State John Kerry was asked by Senator Patrick Leahy to probe instances of “gross violations of human rights” by Israel and Egypt and possible extrajudicial killings by Israeli forces.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the accusations made in the letter, saying in a statement released on March 30 “the IDF and security forces are not murderers.”
Israel’s soldiers and police officers defend themselves and innocent civilians with the highest moral standards against bloodthirsty terrorists who come to murder them. Where is the concern for the human rights of the many Israelis who’ve been murdered and maimed by these savage terrorists? This letter should have been addressed instead to those who incite youngsters to commit cruel acts of terrorism.
The State Department report said the biggest human rights violations in Israel were terror attacks against civilians and “institutional and societal discrimination” against women, Arabs, and other minorities.
However, the report stated that the Palestinian Authority failed “to condemn incidents of anti-Semitic expression and embraced as ‘martyrs’ individuals who died while carrying out attacks on Israeli civilians.”
It found Hamas guilty of “killing, torturing, arbitrarily detaining, and harassing opponents, including Fatah members and other Palestinians, with impunity. Terrorist organizations and militant factions in the Gaza Strip launched rocket and mortar attacks against civilian targets in Israel, and they did so at or near civilian locations in Gaza.”
The report singled out North Korea, China, Cuba, Sudan, and Iran and also cited Russia, Rwanda, Congo, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Egypt, Iran, and Vietnam for human rights abuses.
“In every part of the world, we see an accelerating trend by both state and non-state actors to close the space for civil society, to stifle media and Internet freedom, to marginalize opposition voices, and, in the most extreme cases, to kill people or drive them from their homes,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.