Continuing to shoot at an individual after he or she have already been "neutralized" (the term that has become the official jargon in Israel) and are wounded, posing no further danger, would be illegal, excessive use of force, that could result in the unlawful killing of an attacker, writes Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B'Tselem.
_"Every terrorist should know that he will not survive the attack he is about to perpetrate"; "anyone who stabs Jews or hurts innocent people – is liable to be killed". _The above two sentences are not anti-Semitic slander against the State of Israel; they are not lies nor quoted out of context: the above are direct, recent quotes by individuals of significant authority, the first by Israel's Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan, the second by Jerusalem police chief Moshe Edri.
Of course, the security forces have both the authority and the responsibility to defend the public from violence – and to that end they are authorized to use force, even lethal force, if the circumstances necessitate that.
But clearly, not every attack can only be thwarted by killing the perpetrator – and obviously, continuing to shoot at an individual after he or she have already been "neutralized" (the term that has become the official jargon in Israel) and are wounded, posing no further danger, would be illegal, excessive use of force, that could result in the unlawful killing of an attacker – someone that could have otherwise been detained and brought to justice.
The law in Israel is clear: summary executions are absolutely not part of it. In fact even further, a recent attempt to legislate "death penalty to terrorists" overwhelmingly failed in the Knesset. When it was brought to a vote, all Knesset factions with the exception of one (Yisrael Beiteinu) voted against the bill: 94 members of parliament to six. In other words, clearly there should be no doubt as to the norms and the legal reality in Israel: no executions – full stop.
Hence, a clear legal reality on the one hand – and public, contrary, prominent statements on the other hand. So how do the security forces conduct themselves?
It is impossible not to make the connection between these above-quoted statements, and the actions of police officers and soldiers in a growing number of recent incidents.
Some three weeks ago, a police officer in Jerusalem shot a 16-year-old Palestinian girl from Qalandiya as she lay injured and immobile on the ground. Her 14-year-old cousin, Hadil, was also shot in the same incident even after she had already been hit by gunfire and had fallen to the ground; she was killed.
The day before, soldiers shot dead Ashraqat Qatnani, a 16-year-old girl from Nablus, after she had already been injured when hit by a car. In October, Basel Sidr and Fadi 'Alun were shot dead in Jerusalem; the gunfire did not stop even after they had already been hit and injured. In each of these five cases, even though the individuals involved had already been "neutralized," they were shot at again.
Of the five, four were killed and one seriously injured. Whether or not these individuals had been attempting to perpetrate attacks is a matter that cannot obscure the harsh reality at hand: these instances constitute public, summary street executions, without law or trial.
Above it all, one cannot not hear the roaring silence of Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu: ultimately, it is the PM's responsibility – both for the conduct of the security forces as well as for the overall reality. Besides general commendations for the actions of the security forces, Netanyahu was cautious enough to remain silent. But his silence is a de-facto approval of both the above-quoted statements as well as the illegal actions that have followed.
But on the overall situation, PM Netanyahu did not remain silent: the current wave of violence, in his government's version of reality, is a result of incitement, anti-Semitism, or both.
In other words, for the PM, Palestinian violence is devoid of context: it is part hate, part false consciousness. And while violence against civilians is never justified and should always be totally rejected – at the same time, one should also reject the false logic presented by Netanyahu.
The context for the violence we are witnessing is the occupation: the military rule over millions of human beings with no political rights for close to half a century – and the grave and ongoing human rights violations and violence that inherently result, day in, day out, from this reality, since 1967. Palestinian life is exposed to Israeli state violence every day since the beginning of the occupation: this is the context, and this is the ongoing reality, not only at times when shameful violence is targeting Israelis and making headlines – but all the time.
In fairness, Netanyahu and his government did not invent the occupation or initiate the taking over of Palestinian land: Israeli governments left and right have led this national project over the decades. Even in the context of dealing with the current wave of violence, the opening quotes above were joined by that of the head of the "moderate" Yesh Atid party, MK Yair Lapid: "You have to shoot to kill those who take out a knife or a screwdriver or whatever".
Left, right, and center, "moderates" and nationalists, the occupation goes on. The only unique aspect with regard to the current government is the clarity with which it speaks about its future intentions to continue controlling Palestinian land – and Palestinian lives.
Those speaking out against this reality, in Sweden and elsewhere, are not enemies of Israelis nor the supporters of violence. In fact, the only hope for a future without violence is to work towards a future with no occupation. To that end, we must speak out: those doing so are on the right side of history.
The author is the executive director of B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. B'Tselem is the 2014 recipient of the Stockholm Human Rights Award.
Svenska Dagbladet: ”On street executions and the future of the Occupation”