Israeli Forces’ Unlawful Killings: A Terrifying Reality in West Bank

Israelis killing Palestinians ‘in cold blood’ in occupied West Bank | Occupied West Bank

Israeli Forces and the Rising Death Toll in the Occupied West Bank

Israeli security forces have taken the lives of innocent Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, with the Mahamid family’s tragic tale being a chilling example of such incidents. Sarah Mahamid, 19, watched helplessly from her window as her younger brother, Taha, 15, was shot while playing outside their house in Tulkarem. Their father, Ibrahim, was also shot while trying to come to his son’s aid.

Sarah, in her recounting to Al Jazeera, said, “I remember hearing my father shout that Taha might be alive, … but I knew that Taha was martyred. I knew he was dead.” Footage seen by Al Jazeera attests that both Taha and Ibrahim were unarmed and posed no threat.

Unlawful, Random Killings: The Shocking Reality

This grim event is part of a larger, distressing pattern. Nearly 1,500 Palestinians have been unlawfully killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank in the past 16 years according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). A staggering 98 percent of these casualties were civilians.

More alarmingly, the frequency of these killings has spiked in recent years, with Israel killing 509 Palestinians in 2023 alone – more than double the number recorded by OCHA in any previous year. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the first three months of the current year have already seen a higher rate of killings than the previous year.

The ‘Shoot to Kill’ Policy

Israeli officials have long supported a shoot-to-kill policy, regardless of whether the targeted Palestinians posed a threat. Israeli forces have been authorised to use lethal force even against stone throwers and have equipped Israeli Jews living in illegal settlements in the West Bank with assault rifles.

This policy has resulted in numerous tragic incidents, such as the killing of 17-year-old Omar Abdel Ghani Hamid by settlers. He was shot while trying to protect his village from an attack by settlers. Despite the violence faced by Palestinians, the Israeli authorities rarely hold Jewish Israelis accountable.

‘Colonising our Minds’: The Broader Impact

These extrajudicial killings and army raids are part of a broader strategy to keep Palestinians “afraid”, says Zaid Shuabi from the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq. He believes that Israel’s ultimate goal is to crush the morale of Palestinians and reshape their mindset to deter resistance.

Despite this, a new generation of armed groups has emerged, established by young Palestinians who are fed up with the occupation’s transgressions. However, Israel’s response to this resistance has been to target entire communities, further escalating the fear and tension.

This horrifying reality is exemplified by Sarah Mahamid’s story. As her family bled to death on the street, Israeli soldiers entered their house, cut off the water and electricity, and terrorised the remaining family members. The clear message: fear is a weapon, and it is being wielded with impunity.

The escalating violence and the indiscriminate killings in the West Bank underscore the urgent need for international intervention. As the death toll rises, it becomes increasingly clear that the world cannot stand by while innocent lives are lost. The need for justice, accountability, and an end to the violence is more pressing than ever.