‘Israeli shoot-to-kill policy belongs to western movie laws’ – HRW official to RT
HRW has condemned Israel’s “shoot-to-kill policy” and has accused some senior Israeli officials of openly supporting and encouraging the practice.
A new HRW report suggested that some senior Israeli officials openly encourage the Israeli Defense Force and police to deliberately kill Palestinians who they suspected of attacking Israelis, even if the threat of attack has passed.
The report takes in statements made by top officials since October 2015, including Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, who not only failed to condemn cases of excessive lethal force, but even encouraged it.
Such behavior is completely inappropriate, since Israel is not “governed by Biblical laws or by western movie laws,” Ahmed Benchemsi, HRW Communications and Advocacy Director of Middle East & North Africa, told RT in an exclusive interview.
RT: Why are we seeing so many statements encouraging such excessive use of force? How can they be considered justifiable in any way?
Ahmed Benchemsi: No, cannot be justifiable in any way. As to why I can’t address this concern. What we know, as we’ve documented a lot of such statements, including one by police minister Gilad Erdan who said, and I’m quoting him, if a terrorist has knife or a screwdriver, he mentioned a screwdriver, in his had you should “shoot to kill him without thinking twice.” This is not just a politician speaking his mind, it’s the police minister.
The current Defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, posted once on his Facebook page, and I’m quoting him again, that “no attacker male or female should make it out of any attack alive.” And you have such individuals, as the official Sephardic rabbi, that’s an official position in Israel, who quoted the Bible, saying that the Bible authorizes shoot-to-kill policy, and he mentioned this phrase, he said that was from the Bible, “whoever comes to kill you rise up and kill him first.”
Well, thankfully Israel is not governed by Biblical laws or by western movie laws for that matter. There is such a thing as international human rights laws and these laws limit the intentional lethal use of firearms, what we call shooting to kill to very limited circumstances. And this are circumstances in which it is strictly necessary to protect one’s life and in which there’s no other less extreme option.
RT: Are both sides of the conflict equally guilty of calling for violence against one another?
AB: Well we have documented 150 cases of deaths among Palestinian ranks, of alleged attackers. On the other side 33 Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians. And we, Human Rights Watch, have condemned these attacks against civilians, because attacks against civilians are not justifiable.
But it’s not, because something is not justifiable, that you should do in retaliation something else that is not justifiable as well. All parties are bound to international human rights standards.
RT: Do you expect any reaction from Tel Aviv to your report?
AB: I certainly hope so. I cannot anticipate the future obviously. But what we know is that there are laws that are supposed to be observed. And it’s not just us saying that. Some voices within Israel are also standing against this shoot-to-kill policy. And I want to mention the Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, who gave a clear admonition to follow the Israeli army rules of engagement , which is basically that a soldier should not shoot to kill unless they are compelled to do so because of very extreme circumstances, in which they have no other choice.
Given the prevalence and prominence of statements encouraging security forces to shoot to kill, what we’re asking for is that Netanyahu and other senior officials issue a strong and public admonition to intentionally use lethal force only when strictly necessary, just as the Chief of Staff did.