Reports of excessive use of force by Israeli security forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have risen sharply, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as he urged Israel to take steps to halt this “continuous stream of fatal incidents” and to launch a quick and “utterly transparent” investigation into the matter.
This call comes days after the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein following clashes with Israeli troops on 10 December during a protest against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. “The incidents that preceded the Minister’s death are disturbing and must be carefully investigated,” Mr. Zeid said in a statement.
“I express my deepest condolences to Ziad Abu Ein’s family, and to the people of Palestine. It is a terrible and deeply tragic irony that he should die in this way after taking part in a peaceful protest against illegal settlements, centred around the planting of olive trees, on Human Rights Day.”
The protest coincided with a petition brought before the Israeli High Court demanding the dismantling of the nearby illegal settlement of Adei Ad.
Welcoming Israel’s announcement that it will investigate the incident, Mr. Zeid stressed that this inquiry – and all others involving possible excessive use of force – should be thorough, effective, independent and impartial. “It must also be quick and utterly transparent if people are to have faith in its findings,” he said.
Also on 10 December, in Jalazone refugee camp in the West Bank, Israeli security forces reportedly shot a 14-year-old Palestinian boy in the head with live ammunition, leaving him seriously wounded, during protests triggered by the death of Ziad Abu Ein.
“This continuous stream of fatal incidents underscores the need for effective accountability measures,” High Commissioner Zeid said.
This year alone, there have been at least 50 Palestinian fatalities in incidents involving Israeli security forces in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This is almost double the 27 Palestinian fatalities that occurred in 2013 in similar circumstances.
“Because of the well-established illegal nature of the Israeli settlements in the West bank and East Jerusalem, such protests will inevitably continue,” Mr. Zeid said recalling that “peaceful protest is a human right, and that security forces must exercise restraint when policing protests.
Mr. Zeid also reiterated that settlements are in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which establishes that the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.