The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, reported that the Israeli government formally adopted since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, a policy of assassinating Palestinians suspected of membership in military wings or carrying attacks against the army.
Israel, and in order to counter such reports, claimed that the arm only carried assassinations when soldiers were not able to ‘capture’ their targets.
According to B’Tselem’s figures, since the beginning of 2004, Israeli soldiers have killed eighty-nine Palestinians during operations that that the army refers to as arrest operations.
At least seventeen of the persons killed were not wanted by the Israeli security, but were ordinary civilians.
In addition, at least forty-three of those killed were unarmed, or were not attempting to use their arms against army at the time they were killed. None of these cases were investigated by the Military Police investigation unit.
Take No Prisoners presents four cases investigated by B’Tselem in which Palestinians were killed during these so-called arrest operations.
“Two of the cases relate to incidents in which soldiers surrounded a house in which Israel claimed that a wanted person was present, and then fired at another occupant of the house when he opened the door, without any prior warning and without offering them a chance to surrender” B’Tselem reported.
In the other two cases, troops disarmed the wanted persons, but then shot and killed them.
“In all these cases, soldiers acted as if they were carrying out an assassination and not an arrest, in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law. Based on the report’s findings, there is a grave suspicion that execution of Palestinians has become a norm among the security forces”, B’Tselem added.
At the beginning of the second Intifada, the Israeli army changed the open-fire regulations, in particular as regards operations to arrest wanted residents.
Soldiers were instructed to open fire also in situations in which they were not in life-threatening situations. The orders on when to open fire were given verbally, and were often vague, enabling a broad interpretation and making a partial or misleading transmission of the orders possible.
Also, B’Tselem reported that since the beginning of the Intifada, the judge advocate general’s office in Israel has refrained from ordering Military Police investigations in cases in which Palestinians were shot and killed by soldiers, except in exceptional cases.
Such a procedure created a situation in which soldiers were not held accountable for their actions, thus enabling the army to perform certain executions without any direct orders in many cases, B’Tselem report added..
At the end of its reports, B’Tselem said that senior military and security officials should instruct the soldiers to refrain from opening fire when their lives aren’t endangered.
Also, B’Tselem urged Israel to provide the soldiers with clear and written orders which specifies “when to open fire, and when its prohibited to do so”, and that the Israeli Defense establishment should investigate all of the cases were Palestinian civilians were shot by the army while they “were not involved in any activity against the soldiers’, and did not pose any threat on them.
B’Tselem also said that the Israeli army should be forbidden from asking or forcing Palestinian civilians to perform military tasks to help the army or to cooperate with the soldiers in order to carry out a certain task, and demanded Israel to investigate all cases in which soldiers used civilians in this way, and prosecute the officer and soldiers involved in such acts.