Sunday, October 18, 2015

The NGO "Excessive Force" Campaign and Its Impact - NGO Monitor



by NGO Monitor

-- the “excessive force” accusations are part of an entrenched narrative that only sees Palestinians as victims and Israelis as aggressors. This is a political framing that stands in direct contrast to the human rights principles these groups claim to advance.


Officials from the U.S. State Department, UN Secretary General’s office, and UNRWA have all uncritically repeated NGO claims this week, alleging that Israeli police and security personnel, in responding to stabbing and other terror attacks against civilians, have used “excessive force” in stopping the attackers (See Appendix 1 for statements). Articles with similar content have appeared in the international media.


This theme is a central tactic of politicized NGOs (and the Palestinian Authority) that seek to criminalize Israeli self-defense, and it has appeared frequently in NGO statements since the terror campaign intensified on October 1. The NGO statements apply a unique, unrealistic and unreasonable standard to actions of Israeli security forces. They also erase efforts by emergency responders and doctors to save the lives of injured terrorists.  

In addition, despite video evidence and severely injured victims, a number of NGOs question or reject the reality of these terror attacks.

More broadly, the “excessive force” accusations are part of an entrenched narrative that only sees Palestinians as victims and Israelis as aggressors. This is a political framing that stands in direct contrast to the human rights principles these groups claim to advance.
Some particularly problematic examples of such allegations include:
  • A group of Israeli NGOs (most funded by the New Israel Fund), including B’Tselem, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and Yesh Din, described “a worrying trend to use firearms to kill Palestinians who have attacked Israelis or are suspected of such attacks” (emphasis added). They go on to say that public “support for such actions endorses the killing of Palestinians in the Territories and in Israel.”
  • Amnesty International condemned “the widespread use of excessive force by Israeli forces against demonstrators across the occupied West Bank,” despite acknowledging that “Palestinian demonstrators have thrown rocks and firebombs towards Israeli forces in many demonstrations, and there are reports that Palestinians have shot at Israeli forces in isolated cases.”
  • Human Rights Watch claims that it has “documented the unlawful use of force by Israeli security forces…over many years.” Director Kenneth Roth tweeted, “Horrible deadly cycle: ‘lone wolf’ Palestinian attacks, excessively lethal Israeli response.”
  • Palestinian Center for Human Rights refers to terrorists who have carried out attacks against Israeli civilians as “victims” and alleges that “Israeli forces could have used less force against the victims or could have arrested and tied them if their allegations were true.” 
  • Al Haq also accuses Israeli personnel of “wanton and excessive use of force against Palestinians, with no accountability for the deaths they cause.”
Excerpts from NGO statements: 
Table of Contents
Joint NGO StatementAssociation of Civil Rights in Israel, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Gisha, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Hamoked- Center for the Deference of the Individual, Yesh Din- Volunteer for Human Rights, Adalah- The Legal Center for the Rights of the Arab Minority in Israel, Physician for Human Rights- Israel
Human Rights Organizations in Israel: Politicians’ calls to police and soldiers to shoot rather than arrest endorse the killing of Palestinians (Press Release: October 14, 2015)
Since the beginning of the current wave of violence, there has been a worrying trend to use firearms to kill Palestinians who have attacked Israelis or are suspected of such attacks. Several incidents have been documented and reported, raising concern that the chosen response to such persons is the harshest possible, with lethal or – at the very least – unnecessary consequences. In instances when Jews have been suspected of attacks, none of the suspects has been shot.
Politicians and senior police officers have not only failed to act to calm the public climate of incitement, but on the contrary have openly called for the extrajudicial killing of suspects. They have also urged civilians to carry weapons. For example, Jerusalem District Police Commander Moshe Edri was quoted as saying: “Anyone who stabs Jews or hurts innocent people is due to be killed.” Interior Security Minister Gilad Arden declared that “every terrorist should know that he will not survive the attack he is about to commit.” MK Yair Lapid stated that “you have to shoot to kill anyone who pulls out a knife or screwdriver.” Much of the media joined in and encouraged a similar approach. The bodies responsible for supervising police operations – the State Attorney’s Office and the Department for the Investigation of Police – remained silent in the face of these comments.
No-one disputes the serious nature of the events of recent days, nor the need to protect the public against stabbing and other attacks. However, it seems that too often, instead of acting in a manner consistent with the nature of each incident, police officers and soldiers are quick to shoot to kill. The political and public support for such actions endorses the killing Palestinians in the Territories and in Israel.
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (08-13 Oct. 2015) (Update: October 14, 2015)
Israeli forces have escalated the use of excessive lethal force against peaceful protests in occupied Palestinian territory.
The reporting period witnessed bloody escalation and blatant disregard by Israeli forces for the lives of Palestinian civilians. Moreover, Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against Palestinians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Occupied East Jerusalem witnessed shooting incidents against all those suspected of attempting to stab Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Field investigations indicate that Israeli forces used excessive lethal force in the Gaza Strip in violation of the principles of proportionality and military necessity. Many of the Palestinian victims were shot in the upper parts of their bodies, reflecting an Israeli intention to cause maximum casualties among Palestinian civilians, who did not pose any serious threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers stationed in fortified military sites far away from the demonstrators.
Videos and Photos Showing Israeli Violations Against Palestinian Civilians (Update: October 14, 2015)
In some cases, Israeli forces claim that shootings or other practices were carried out in response to the Palestinians' attempts to stab Israelis. However, the videos and photos showing the employment of excessive force reflect shooting-to-kill policy in violation of the international standards.
Child Killed and His Cousin Seriously Wounded Amidst Settlers' Cry "Die" and "David Red Star" Ambulance Deliberate Delay (Press Release: October 13, 2015)
Moreover, PCHR stresses that in the above-mentioned cases,  Israeli forces could have used less force against the victims or could have arrested and tied them if their allegations were true. PCHR reiterates its call upon the international community to take immediate and effective actions to put an end to such crimes…
Israeli Forces Continue to Kill Palestinians on grounds of Alleged Stabbing Attempts (Press Release: October 12, 2015)
Committing such crimes as a policy adopted by Israeli forces is a translation of the decisions taken by the Israeli government and statements made by its members inciting for killing Palestinian civilians, who carry out and/or attempt to carry out stabbings against Israeli forces, police and settlers.
PCHR strongly condemns the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives.  PCHR stresses that in the above-mentioned cases, Israeli forces could have used less force against the victims or could have arrested them.
In less Than 12 Hours, Israeli Forces Kill 4 Palestinian Civilians, Including Pregnant WOman, Her Child and another Child, and Wound 24 Others, Including 3 Children and Woman, in the Gaza Strip (Press Release: October 11, 2015)
Using excessive lethal force in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed in less than 12 hours 4 Palestinian civilian... Moreover, they wounded 24 civilians, including three children and a woman. Thus, the number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip since Friday afternoon has increased to 11, including two children. In addition, the number of the wounded has reached 91, including 20 children and a woman.
10 Palestinian Civilians Killed and 187 Civilians Wounded, Including 27 Children, Physician and Turkish Journalist, by Israeli Forces in the oPt; Seven of the Victims Were Killed in the Gaza Strip in Few Hours (Press Release: October 10, 2015)
Using excessive force, on Friday, 9 October 2015, Israeli forces killed seven Palestinian civilians, and wounded 67 civilians, including 17 children and a Turkish photojournalist, in five locations near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Field investigations indicate that Israeli forces used excessive lethal force in the Gaza Strip in violation of the principles of proportionality and military necessity. Many of the Palestinian victims were shot in the upper parts of their bodies, reflecting an Israeli intention to cause maximum casualties among Palestinian civilians, who did not pose any serious threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers stationed in fortified military sites far away from the demonstrators.
Israeli Forces Continue to Escalate Their Arbitrary Measures in the West Bank (Statement: October 5, 2015)
For the fifth consecutive day, Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protests organized by Palestinian civilians in protest at the escalation policy practiced by Israeli forces in the West Bank, especially in East Jerusalem.
In another crime of excessive use of force, on Sunday afternoon, 04 October 2015, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded two others, when Israeli soldiers opened fire at dozens of Palestinian civilians who organized a protest in the vicinity of "Gishory” factories, west of Tulkram…
Israeli Forces Escalate their Arbitrary Measures in the West Bank, Israeli Police Officer Willfully Kills Palestinian Civilian in Occupied Jerusalem (Statement: October 4, 2015)
PCHR strongly condemns the willful killing of Aloon in East Jerusalem, which further proves the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians in disregard for the civilians’ lives.  Moreover, PCHR condemns collective punishment measures taken by the Israeli forces in the oPt and the attacks launched by Israeli settlers before the eyes of Israeli forces.
Amnesty International (AI)
Violence spirals in Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (October 13, 2015)
Israeli forces have used excessive, sometimes lethal, force against Palestinian demonstrators, injuring hundreds with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets, and have failed to protect Palestinian civilians from a wave of settler attacks.
 “Israeli forces have used excessive force on a large scale and intensified restriction on movement and have vowed to increase illegal punishments such as home demolitions. Security measures must respect international law. Collective punishment of the Palestinian population can never be justified.”
No Justification for Deliberate Attacks on Civilians, Unlawful Killings by Israeli Forces, or Collective Punishment of Palestinians (Public Statement: October 9, 2015)
On the morning of 4 October, Fadi Alloun, 19, from Issawiyya in East Jerusalem, was shot and killed by the Israeli police near Jerusalem’s Old City, in what appears to have been an extrajudicial execution. Israeli police said that he tried to stab a 16-year-old Israeli boy who was lightly injured, and had a knife in his hand when he was shot.
Amnesty International also condemns the widespread use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinian demonstrators across the occupied West Bank, and their failure to protect Palestinians from a wave of settler attacks. The organization urges the Israeli authorities to halt the use of excessive force and unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces…
Since 1 October, Israeli military and police forces have responded to dozens of spontaneous Palestinian protests throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, by massively increasing their use of excessive force from what was already an unacceptable level. While Palestinian demonstrators have thrown rocks and firebombs towards Israeli forces in many demonstrations, and there are reports that Palestinians have shot at Israeli forces in isolated cases, Israeli military and police forces are heavily protected and must ensure that all use of force is strictly necessary and proportionate, and that firearms must only be used to protect against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.
Human Rights Watch
Tweet by Kenneth Roth, director (October 13, 2015)
 
Human Rights Watch Investigator Shot (News Release: October 11, 2015)
“Indiscriminate or deliberate firing on observers and demonstrators who pose no imminent threat violates the international standards that bind Israeli security forces,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “It is particularly troubling when those seeking to monitor the security forces’ conduct are among the casualties.”
Human Rights Watch has documented the unlawful use of force by Israeli security forces in policing demonstrations in the West Bank over many years, and in particular firing live ammunition that hit protesters, journalists, and human rights activists who posed no imminent threat to the forces.
Israel/Palestine: Gunfire Kills Child at Protest (News Release: October 8, 2015)
“The death of a child after security forces used live ammunition against demonstrators should be a wake-up call for Israeli officials,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Israel needs to ensure that its police and army comply with international standards for the use of force.”
 “Especially in light of the rising number of civilian deaths and injuries in the West Bank, Israel should abide by international standards and immediately cancel the loosened rules of engagement for police,” Stork said.
Al-Haq
Al-Haq Action Alert: Palestine on the brink (October 10, 2015)
Palestinians have been killed and injured throughout the OPT and in Israel at an alarming rate… This is a direct result of Israel’s wanton and excessive use of force against Palestinians, with no accountability for the deaths they cause.
Al-Haq has documented countless cases of excessive use of force where the IOF have showed complete disregard for Palestinians’ lives and safety.
B’Tselem
In view of mounting violence, B'Tselem expresses its deep shock at contempt for human life and strongly condemns it; while individuals are responsible for their own particular actions, the government bears responsibility for the reality of the Occupation (Press Release: October 13, 2015)
Meanwhile, Israeli government officials and others in position of authority have been calling explicitly to “shoot to kill”, so the lives of Palestinians suspected of perpetrating attack are forfeit, even when they no longer pose a threat. To date, more than ten people have been shot to death when suspected of perpetrating attacks.
The excessive force Israel has been using to quell these demonstrations has left at least five Palestinian dead and hundreds injured.
Al Mezan
Israeli Attack on House Kills Pregnant Woman and Her Child in Gaza; Al Mezan Calls for Immediate International Protection for Civilians in the oPt (Press Release: October 11, 2015)
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the Israeli violations against civilians in the oPt. Al Mezan asserts that many of the IOF practices represent serious and systematic violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law
Al Mezan Condemns the IOF Lethal Force against Civilians; Calls on the International Community to Intervene and Ensure Due Protection for Civilians (Press Release: October 11, 2015)
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have used excessive and lethal force against Palestinian protestors, including children, who were near the border fence in the east of the Gaza Strip.  Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the excessive and lethal use of force against civilian protestors and calls for immediate international protection of Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
Al Mezan asserts that the direct IOF shooting at unarmed protestors reflects instructions given by the Israeli government which has relaxed the regulations regarding the use of live fire at demonstrators and stone throwers.
Adalah
Family demands that Israeli Police Investigation Unit “Mahash” investigate police killing of Palestinian youth Fadi Alloun (Press Release: October 11, 2015)
…the police officers at the incident violated the rules of engagement, which only permit fatal shooting as a last resort, after all other measures have been exhausted, and when the suspect poses an immediate danger. "The police in this case chose to use deadly weapons as the only option, as a first course of action instead of as a last resort," wrote the attorneys.
Israeli police acting above the law, taking brutal measures to suppress legitimate protest of Palestinian citizens of Israel (Press Release: October 11, 2015)
Over the last week, during the extremely violent events taking place throughout Israel...the Israeli police, backed by the courts, have been trying to prevent the legitimate protest of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel against the government's policies by means of brutal and illegal acts.
Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-I)
Facebook Post: October 11, 2015 (Translated from Hebrew)
In recent weeks we have witnessed more incidents involving Palestinians that within a split second turn into a mega-event, which is immediately handled by shooting a suspect, either to wound or to kill [sic]. Instead of reacting according to the different nature of events, police officers and soldiers react both as judges and executioners. The default is killing, regardless of the actual danger posed by the attacker or suspect at the given moment…This practice is backed by government ministers and public officials who inflame the situation and authorize the spilling of the blood of Palestinians.
Addameer
Addameer Demands the Immediate Release of the Body of Fadi Alloun (News Update: October 8, 2015)
The lawyer of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Adv. Mohammad Mahmoud, submitted a request earlier today demanding the Israeli occupation’s prosecution to immediately release the body of 19-year-old Fadi Alloun, who was extra-judicially executed by Israeli police in occupied East Jerusalem last Sunday.
War on Want
Palestinians Facing Intensified Violence (News: October 9, 2015)
Israeli military, police and settler violence against Palestinians is intensifying quickly. Over the past week, at least 900 Palestinians have been injured, at least 60 with live fire. Only today, six Palestinians in Gaza were shot dead by Israeli soldiers who opened fire on a demonstration. These peaks in lethal violence are a part of the systematic violence Palestinians are subjected to under Israel’s Apartheid regime.
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
JVP Statement on State of Emergency in Jerusalem and the West Bank (Statement: October 4, 2015)
Jewish Voice for Peace mourns the lives lost in violent attacks, both Palestinian and Israeli, in the last days and weeks.
We are deeply alarmed by the escalated level of collective punishment being imposed on Palestinians by both settlers and the Israeli Army. In the last 24 hours, the IDF has used live fire in Jenin and elsewhere in the West Bank, wounding over 100 Palestinians. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society has declared a state of emergency after their staff and ambulances were attacked 14 times in the last 72 hours.
Appendix 1
U.S. State Department Briefing (October 14, 2015)
John Kirby: “Now, we have seen some – I wouldn’t call the checkpoints this, but we’ve certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force… we’ve certainly seen some reports of security activity that could indicate the potential excessive use of force… we’re always concerned about credible reports of excessive use of force against civilians, and we routinely raise our concerns about that.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (October 13, 2015)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel to carry out a “serious review” on whether its security forces are resorting to “excessive force” against Palestinians. Ban found “the apparent excessive use of force by Israeli security forces” to be “troubling,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
UNRWA statement  (October 12, 2015)
“Further to the recent statement of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the high number of casualties, in particular those resulting from the use of live ammunition by Israeli forces raise serious concerns about the excessive use of force that may be contrary to international law enforcement standards. Under international law there are strict limits to the use of lethal force whether in the context of law enforcement operations or during conflict.”


NGO Monitor

Source: http://ngo-monitor.org/article/the_ngo_excessive_force_campaign_and_its_impact

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