Israeli forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life by killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank over the past three years with near total impunity, says Amnesty International in a report published on 27 February 2014.
The report, Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank, describes mounting bloodshed and human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as a result of the Israeli forces’ use of unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians since January 2011.
In all cases examined by Amnesty, Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life. In some, there is evidence that they were victims of wilful killings, which would amount to war crimes, says the group.
“The report presents a body of evidence that shows a harrowing pattern of unlawful killings and unwarranted injuries of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces in the West Bank,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers – and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy.”
Israeli soldiers have a long history of using excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank extending back to at least the first Intifada in 1987, says observers.
In a briefing published in September 2013, 'Shut Up We are the Police': Use of Excessive force by the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, Amnesty documented human rights violations carried out by the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank against Palestinian demonstrators.