US Accuses Israel of ‘Excessive Use of Force’ in Human Rights Report

Ahmad Sharaka, 13 is mourned by his family. He was killed by Israeli soldiers during clashes near the Beit El settlement. (Photo: File)

The US has accused Israel of an “excessive use of force” against Palestinians, amounting to a violation of human rights, in its annual report of global human rights abuses.

The US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015 published Thursday highlighted numerous allegations of Israeli rights abuses, including the arbitrary arrest and torture of Palestinians, as well as restrictions on their freedom of movement and speech.

But most significant was the report’s focus on Israel’s excessive use of force, which follows months of similar allegations by local and international NGOs, as well as senior UN officials and foreign leaders, including, earlier this year, a group of prominent US congressmen.

The US report said that through the final months of 2015, after a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October, Israeli forces killed 127 Palestinians, of whom 77 were allegedly attacking Israelis.

“In a number of these incidents, there were reports of human rights abuses related to actions by Israeli authorities,” the report said. “NGOs published multiple reports alleging that Israeli security forces committed unlawful killings.”

It pointed in particular to a report by Amnesty International (AI) late in October that documented at least four incidents of Palestinians who were shot dead when they posed no imminent threat to life.

These included 18-year-old Hadeel Hashlamon who was shot dead at a Hebron checkpoint in September. The US report said: “Pictures of the standoff that led to her death and accounts by eyewitnesses that AI interviewed showed that she at no time posed a sufficient threat to the soldiers to justify their use of deliberate lethal force.”

It also mentioned Abdullah Shalaldah, 28, who was shot dead when Israeli forces stormed al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron in order to detain his cousin.

“While the IDF released a statement that Abdullah Shalaldah tried to attack them, witnesses reported to AI that he was unarmed, was standing some distance away, and had not attempted to attack them,” the report said.

The Israeli army’s excessive use of force has come under the spotlight in recent weeks after an Israeli soldier’s gruesome killing of a wounded Palestinian was captured on camera in Hebron last month.

The killing was branded an “extrajudicial execution” by UN officials, while international rights groups and the Palestinian leadership stressed it was not an isolated incident but representative of routine Israeli army practice.

Shortly afterward, a letter was made public that had been sent in February by a group of 10 senior US congressmen to US Secretary of State John Kerry suggesting that US military assistance to Israel should be suspended if reports of Israeli rights violations, including “extrajudicial killings,” should be proven true.

– Read more: US Accuses Israel of ‘Excessive Use of Force’ in Human Rights Report – MAAN

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