Extrajudicial killing of Palestinians condemned

Nine human-rights organizations in Israel have issued a statement asking that "rather than imposing collective punishment on Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government should act to end the reality of ongoing and daily oppression faced by some four million people who live without hope of any change in the situation, without any horizon for the end of occupation, and without prospects for a life of liberty and dignity."

Israeli government should act to end the reality of ongoing and daily oppression.

The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network (PIEF), an international, inter-church advocacy initiative for peace in Israel and Palestine, has asked that the statement be disseminated widely. PIEF is affiliated with the World Council of Churches, of which The United Methodist Church is a member.

The statement follows:

Current wave of violence

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.

You have to shoot to kill anyone who pulls out a knife or screwdriver.

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, “Every terrorist should know that he will not survive the attack he is about to commit.”
  • MK Yair Lapid stated, “You have to shoot to kill anyone who pulls out a knife or screwdriver.”

Media encouraged approach

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 Dept. 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. It seems, however, 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.

Rather than imposing collective punishment on Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government should act to end the reality of ongoing and daily oppression faced by some four million people who live without hope of any change in the situation, without any horizon for the end of occupation, and without prospects for a life of liberty and dignity.

The statement is signed by the following organizations:

Assn. for Civil Rights in Israel
Amnesty International – Israel Branch
B'Tselem
Gisha
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
HaMoked – Center for the Defense of the Individual
Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights
Adalah – The Legal Center for the Rights of the Arab Minority in Israel
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel

Editor's note: The World Council of Churches (WCC) brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. At the end of 2013, there were 345 member churches. While the bulk of the WCC's founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.

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