Israel/OPT: Israeli forces killing of Palestinian woman at checkpoint underscores need for international justice

Responding to the news that armed Israeli guards shot dead a Palestinian woman after she allegedly pulled out a knife at the Qalandiya military checkpoint between Ramallah and East Jerusalem this morning, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Saleh Higazi said:

“Video footage of the incident shows the woman standing some distance away from the Israeli guards when they shot her dead. She did not appear to be carrying a firearm and did not pose any immediate threat to the guards or to the lives of people in the vicinity when they opened fire. This strongly suggests that her killing may have been unlawful. 

“Under international law, lethal force must only be used when strictly unavoidable and in order to defend people from imminent risk of death or serious injury.

Under international law, lethal force must only be used when strictly unavoidable and in order to defend people from imminent risk of death or serious injury
Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for MENA at Amnesty International

“Israeli forces have a horrific track record of committing serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law – including using excessive force and carrying out unlawful killings. This pattern grows unobstructed by the complete lack of accountability for Israeli forces who carry human rights violations.

“Today’s killing is an urgent reminder of the need for international justice to start charting the way towards an end to Israel’s institutionalized and systematic violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Background

A spokesperson for Israeli police said the woman had approached Israeli forces at the checkpoint, ignored calls to stop and pulled a knife out before she was shot in the leg.

In recent years, Amnesty International has documented hundreds of cases in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in which Israeli forces have used lethal force on unarmed Palestinians who were posing no imminent threat to the lives of the soldiers or others, carrying out unlawful killings including in some cases possible wilful killings.

There appears to be blanket approval within the open fire regulations for Israeli forces to use live ammunition during law enforcement situations involving Palestinians.  This does not meet with Israel’s obligations under international law. The Israeli authorities must publish immediately and in full the open fire regulations for the Israel Police, Border Police and private security contractors, as well as for the army for all the areas in which it operates, including Gaza.