Over the past years, thousands of Palestinians were killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces without posing any real threat under the pretext of “maintaining order.” Many were killed during raid and arrest campaigns in the West Bank, while others were murdered in airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Thousands more were injured in similar events, causing them permanent physical or mental disability.
Legally, police officers are allowed to shoot under two circumstances. The first circumstance is when police officers reasonably believed that their or others’ lives were in danger. The second circumstance is to prevent a suspect from escaping, but only if the officer has probable cause to think the suspect poses a dangerous threat to others.
However, these rules are almost daily violated by the Israeli army.
During large military operations, Israeli army take advantage of the international rules of engagement, allowing troops to open fire more easily. However, the fundamental commitment that underpinned the development of these rules is to strengthen the protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict.
There should be two immutable and well-understood principles for the Israeli army during conflicts:
1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants:
The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians.
2- Proportionality in Attack
Even when it is not possible to isolate the civilians from an assault and there is no other recourse but to attack, this does not constitute a green light to inflict unbridled harm on civilians. The commander is required to refrain from an attack that is expected to inflict harm on the civilian population that is disproportionate to the expected military gain.
Over the years, hundreds of applications were made to relevant authorities for cases of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces to be investigated, but meaningful accountability was never realised.
Israel’s investigation mechanism is clearly a charade. Even if an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian at the hands of Israeli forces is opened, it almost never conclude with someone being charged. The entire mechanism is a charade because its flaws are, in fact, its essential features – the ones that enable it to deliver impunity.
Israel needs impunity to maintain its apartheid regime. It cannot maintain control over a subjugated population without state violence. Thus, it is essential for the regime to provide itself with blanket impunity – while performing what looks like investigations, to appease international expectations.