Israel escalates war on all fronts against Palestinians


Human rights organisation B’Tselem has highlighted the massive increase in Israel’s attacks against the Palestinians in 2021, the deadliest year since Israel’s criminal assault on Gaza in 2014.

According to B’Tselem, Israel’s security forces killed 313 Palestinians in the Palestinian territories it has illegally occupied since the 1967 Arab Israeli war: 236 in the Gaza Strip, almost all during the 11-day assault in May, and 77 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Another six were killed either at the hands of soldiers or armed settlers. A further 25 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by rockets fired at Israel that landed within Gaza, while it was unclear whether another eight were killed by Israeli forces or Palestinian rocket fire. In the West Bank, Israel’s de facto subcontractors, the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces, killed two Palestinians during their arrest.

An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes is seen in the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday Jan, 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Yousef Masoud)

Of the 232 Palestinians killed by the military during the May assault on Gaza, at least 137 were non-combatants, including 53 minors and 38 women, many of whom were killed during the criminal bombardment of densely populated areas, a consistent feature of Israel’s operations. While senior Israeli officials claim that lethal fire is used as a “last resort” in accordance with Israeli and international law, this is clearly routine with no one held accountable.

B’Tselem investigated 336 incidents of settler violence, up from 251 in 2020, that resulted in at least eight Palestinian civilian deaths, including two minors, at the hands of security forces or settlers that occurred during the weeks of protests against the establishment of the illegal Eviatar outpost on Palestinian land. Violence was not simply a case of a few unruly settlers out of control, but a strategy aimed at taking over more and more Palestinian land with the full support of the military and the government.

Following an agreement with the government in June, the 50 settlers at Eviatar agreed to leave and allow Israeli troops to establish a base in the area, while the defence ministry studied land claims to assess whether to recognise a future settlement.

Since then, Israeli soldiers have prevented Palestinian farmers from accessing hundreds of dunams (one dunam is equal to one quarter of an acre) of their own land, blocked agricultural roads and repeatedly damaged them. On July 9, soldiers fired on Palestinian protesters, injuring nearly 400 people, making it clear that that the settlement will get government approval.

Civilian deaths and Israel’s rules of engagement

As well as killing and wounding Palestinian protesters, soldiers killed at least 36 Palestinians, including four minors and five women, accused of attacking or attempting to attack Israeli security forces or civilians with a car, knife, firearm or even stones. B’Tselem cited two of the most egregious examples of such unlawful shootings: the killing of Osama Mansur, who was not endangering the soldiers’ lives and was mistakenly suspected of trying to run them over; and of Fahmeyeh al-Hrub, 60, who was moving slowly towards the soldiers who killed her.



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