Middle East Monitor / January 6, 2020
Israeli forces killed 133 Palestinians during 2019, reported human rights group B’Tselem today, more than a fifth of whom were children.
The fact that the death toll is “a direct outcome of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorised by the government and military and backed by the legal system”, reaffirms that an International Criminal Court investigation into possible war crimes is “unavoidable”, the NGO stated.
According to B’Tselem, Israeli occupation forces killed 104 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 26 in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, and three within the Green Line.
In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian fatalities include 56 who B’Tselem claimed “were not taking part in hostilities”, 46 who reportedly were, and two others where this was unclear.
Overall, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza included seven women and 22 children.
B’Tselem noted that in the context of “March of Return” protests, Israeli forces killed 31 Palestinians during 2019, including 11 children – six of whom were under the age of 16.
Of the 31 protesters killed, 26 were shot with live fire, four were struck in the head by high velocity tear gas canisters and one was struck in the head by a stun grenade.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Israeli forces killed 26 Palestinians, including five children.
The majority were found by B’Tselem investigations to have posed no immediate danger when lethally shot, including 17-year-old volunteer paramedic Sajed Mizher, “was shot and killed as he approached to treat an injured person in a-Duheisheh Refugee Camp”.
In another case highlighted by the organisation, “15-year-old ‘Abdallah Gheith was lethally shot by a Border Police officer as he tried to enter Israel in order to pray in Jerusalem.”
In addition to those killed by Israeli forces, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers, including 38-year-old father of two Hamdi Na’asan, “shot in the back by settlers who attacked his village”.
B’Tselem recorded that, alongside the 135 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers, nine Israelis were killed by Palestinians. Five were killed in the occupied West Bank – including two soldiers – and four were killed by projectiles from the Gaza Strip.
According to B’Tselem, three Palestinians were also killed in the Gaza Strip by misfired rockets.
In its year in review, the Israeli human rights group “found that almost all the incidents in which Israeli forces killed Palestinians in 2019 were the result of the reckless open-fire policy Israel implements in the Occupied Territories.”
“In the Gaza Strip, this includes bombing densely-populated areas and giving patently unlawful orders that permit live fire at unarmed demonstrators by the fence with Israel”, while in the West Bank, “the policy includes…opening live fire in circumstances that do not entail mortal danger to security forces or other individuals”.