Israeli forces killed 290 Palestinians, 55 of whom were minors, during 2018: 254 of them in Gaza and the rest in the West Bank, a report by Israeli rights group B’Tselem said.

The report, published Thursday on B’Tselem’s website, said these killings are a direct result of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and the top military command, and backed by the judicial system. As long as Israel adheres to this policy, despite its predictable outcomes, the casualties will continue to amass.

The report said that Israeli forces killed 254 Palestinians in Gaza, including two women and 47 minors, throughout 2018. Of the casualties, 154 did not take part in what it called “hostilities.” It added that 90 did take part, while B’Tselem said it did not know whether the remaining 15, took part or not.

Since late March 2018, Palestinians in Gaza have been holding the March of Return protests along the fence with Israel. During these protests, Israeli forces use extensive live fire against demonstrators, in a way that is both unlawful and immoral. As a result of this open-fire policy, 190 demonstrators have been killed – 65% of all Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this year. These include a woman and 34 minors, three of whom were 11-years-old and one 4-year-old. Most of them were unarmed and posed no danger to anyone, PNN reports.

Another two Palestinians, one of them a 15-year-old teen, were killed in demonstrations held before the Return Protests began. Four Palestinians – a heavily pregnant woman, her infant daughter and two 14-year-olds – were killed in airstrikes within the Gaza Strip.

The report adds that, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israeli forces killed 34 Palestinians, including 7 minors. Thirteen of the casualties, including five minors, were killed in protests and incidents involving stone-throwing, or shortly afterwards. Concerning the killing of another person, the military falsely claimed that he was killed during confrontations that included stone-throwing: Muhammad Habali, a mentally challenged young man, was shot in the head from behind as he was moving away from the soldiers who fired at him, and who were standing about 80 meters away. B’Tselem’s investigation, which included video footage, proved that at the time of the shooting, the area was quiet and Habali was endangering no one.

Eleven Palestinians, including a 17-year-old, were killed while attacking, attempting to attack, or allegedly attempting to attack Israeli security forces or civilians – by ramming cars into them, stabbing, use of other cold arms or shooting. Israeli forces shot and killed three other Palestinians – ‘Omar ‘Awwad, Hamdan ‘Ardah and Qassem Abbasi (17) – on the grounds that they had tried to carry out attacks by car, a claim disproven in every case.

This ongoing profound disregard for the lives of Palestinians is broadly backed by senior policy-makers in the military, the government and the judicial system. As a rule, no one is held accountable for these incidents, and the military law enforcement system whitewashes them. Given this sweeping support and the lack of accountability for these deaths, such incidents will continue.

(photo: Days of Palestine)

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