Citing 'Extrajudicial Executions,' Amnesty International Raps Israel for Human Rights Abuses

The organization says Israeli security forces killed at least 75 Palestinians last year, including at least 20 by riot-dispersal actions

Israeli soldiers aim their weapons at Palestinian protesters during clashes in Hebron, West Bank, February 16, 2018.
\ MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ REUTERS

Israel violated human rights in various ways last year, including the detention of Palestinians without trial, illegal interrogation methods, illegal construction in the West Bank and the restriction of Palestinians’ movement, Amnesty International says in its annual report.

Amnesty also mentions killings by the security forces that “appeared to have been extrajudicial executions,” and criticizes the government’s efforts to accelerate its deportations of asylum seekers.

The report says Israeli security forces killed at least 75 Palestinians last year, including five who held Israeli citizenship. It says some were killed while trying to commit a terror attack, while others, some of them children, were shot and killed when they did not pose a threat.

Amnesty says the Israeli security forces employed unreasonable and sometimes lethal force using live ammunition and rubber bullets against Palestinians during demonstrations. It says that at least 20 Palestinians were killed last year by riot-dispersal actions, including 10 who were killed in the clashes that erupted following the July attack on Israeli police officers at the Temple Mount.

The report also cites the death of Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, who ran over and killed police officer Erez Levi during a protest in the south in January 2017. Abu al-Kiyan was shot to death by the police; Amnesty says the killing of   Abu al-Kiyan and certain other killings “appeared to have been extrajudicial executions.”

According to the report, last year Israel continued to prevent Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers from obtaining legal status. Amnesty criticizes the government program to double the rate of deportations of asylum seekers to 7,200 per year, amid the detention of more than 1,200 asylum seekers at the Holot detention center in the south.

The Amnesty International Annual Report 2017/18 covers 159 countries separately and analyzes the state of human rights around the world.

In the foreword, Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty warns that U.S. President Donald Trump’s has set a dangerous example for other governments. He says Trump’s efforts “to ban entry to all citizens of several Muslim-majority countries based on their nationality was a transparently hateful move.”

Citing Myanmar’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority, Shetty writes: “The appalling injustices meted out to the Rohingya may have been especially visible in 2017, but the trend of leaders and politicians demonizing whole groups of people based on their identity reverberated across the globe. The past year showed us once again what happens when the politics of demonization become mainstream, with grim consequences for human rights.”

Shetty makes clear that Trump isn’t the only transgressor.

“Leaders of wealthy countries have continued to approach the global refugee crisis with a blend of evasion and outright callousness, regarding refugees not as human beings with rights but as problems to be deflected,” he writes.

Among the events cited by Amnesty are a nationalist march in Warsaw, the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and anti-LGBT raids in Chechnya and Egypt.

The report also says that “President Trump wasted little time in putting his anti-rights rhetoric of discrimination and xenophobia into action, threatening a major rollback on justice and freedoms – including by signing a series of repressive executive orders that threatened the human rights of millions, at home and abroad.”

Amnesty says millions around the world have trouble obtaining basic needs and services like housing, food and medical care. These people are forced to live in appalling conditions without access to food, clean water, medical care and basic shelter, Amnesty says, adding that if governments do not address the causes of poverty and inequality, the potential for unrest will continue to grow.

The organization also warns about restrictions on freedom of speech. Rather than silencing people when they speak up, governments must see to their needs and end restrictions on the media and civil society, it says.