Israel kills more than 100 Palestinians since October

ANADOLU AGENCY
JERUSALEM
Published 27.11.2015 13:48
Updated 27.11.2015 23:16
emEPA Photo/em
EPA Photo

Israeli forces shot dead 21-year-old Yahya Yusri Taha during an early morning raid near Jerusalem on Thursday, taking the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of October past 100.

Though many of those Palestinians were killed during alleged attacks on Israeli soldiers or civilians, many others were killed, like Taha, when Israeli forces used live fire during clashes in Palestinian neighborhoods.

According to the Palestinian health ministry, the death toll has since risen to 103, including at least 22 children and four women.

Much about the period of heightened tension has been contentious. Palestinians and Israelis accuse each other of inciting the violence, the starting point is disputed and whether it is a "third intifada", a "wave of violence" or an extension of existing conflict has been debated.

"This [situation] is really disastrous because it will increase the pain and suffering and will increase the sense of anger [among youth]," Zakaria Al-Qak, a Palestinian national security expert, told Anadolu Agency. "The only thing we can do to calm the situation is to have a week without violence. As long as there is a situation of shooting [to kill] as a policy, this will continue."

He also argued that the deaths recorded since Oct. 1, when two Israeli settlers were killed in the West Bank, should not be separated from long-term violence.

"I see this as [part of the] conflict. If you want, you can see it started [more than] 50 years ago. The deaths won't stop at a certain number, whether 100 or 1,000," Qak said. "As long as there's no [peace] agreement in the future, the number will only increase."

Such a peace agreement is unlikely, according to Palestinian political scientist Abdul Majid Swealim, who told Anadolu Agency that Israeli conditions are a barrier to progress.

"Israel wants negotiations without rules or foundation and the Palestinian Authority [PA] refuses that. Israel wants also to keep the settlements and the Jordan valley in any future agreement and the PA also refuses that," he said. "I believe that the negotiations option has collapsed and there is no choice for the PA but to support the current popular uprising to push for the peace process."

Swealim added that this week's visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had been a "total failure" after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed for the U.S. to accept the building of more illegal settlements in the West Bank.

He said Palestinians had lost their faith in the U.S. or international community pressing for peace talks so instead "they are trying to change the situation with their blood."

The violence has been accompanied by a series of punitive measures by Israel that have angered Palestinians further, including demolishing family homes of alleged attackers, imprisoning minors for throwing stones during protests and not returning bodies of killed Palestinians.

At the height of the violence, much of occupied East Jerusalem was brought under heavy security measures with armed police and paramilitary troops stationed throughout and several Palestinian neighborhoods blockaded.

Though the violence was initially focused on East Jerusalem, especially around Israel's decision to restrict entry to the revered Al Aqsa Mosque, most of the deaths since the end of October have been in the West Bank, with the deeply-divided city of Hebron becoming the worst-affected.

Israel has accused Palestinian groups, especially Hamas and the PA who govern Gaza and the occupied West Bank respectively, of promoting attacks against Israelis and claimed that killed Palestinians had been shot in self-defense.

The alleged attacks have mainly been carried out by young Palestinians using improvised weapons such as kitchen knives or cars, rather than from organized groups.

Several human rights groups have however raised concerns about Israeli forces shooting dead alleged assailants, even after they appeared to no longer pose a threat, and subsequently denying them treatment.

The issue was highlighted Monday when security camera footage published in Israeli media appeared to show two Palestinian girls being shot by members of the public even after they had been injured.

On Wednesday, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem sent a letter to Netanyahu, criticizing his government's response to the violence.

"Your government permits-and encourages-the transformation of police officers, and even of armed civilians, into judges and executioners," B'Tselem director Hagai El-Ad wrote in the letter. "During your term of office, a new pseudo-normative reality has effectively emerged, in which a ?shoot to kill' approach must always be adopted, no matter the circumstances, even when the suspect no longer poses any danger whatsoever."

"This reality is a direct consequence of inflammatory statements by senior members of your government, who draw support from your silence."

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