Israel uses excessive force against Palestinians in occupied territories, supports armed gangs: UN

Jerusalem/PNN/

The United Nations has criticized Israel over excessive use of force against Palestinians in the occupied territories, saying attacks by extremist settlers and armed gangs on residents of such areas are backed by Israeli security institutions.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, announced in a report that assaults on Palestinian citizens, carried out by right-wing and armed gangs, sometimes come with the support of elements from Israeli security forces.

He called on Israeli authorities to provide full and equal protection to all living inside the occupied territories without any discrimination.

De Varennes then slammed the violence practiced by “far-right” groups and excessive use of force by Israeli security officials and forces during protests in recent weeks, describing them as the worst cases of violence against Palestinians.

The UN rapporteur added that “the Palestinian minority in Israel is still paying a heavy price after long decades of exclusion and discrimination,” complaining about “lack of availability of shelters and safe areas in Palestinian villages located in Negev [desert].”

The senior UN official highlighted that “extremist groups use various means of communication to spread hatred, incite violence, and encourage the use of weapons in attacks against Palestinians.”

He finally called on the Israeli administration “to condemn all manifestations of violence, hatred, and discrimination against Palestinians,” stressing that Israeli authorities must immediately rein in extremist settlers for such attacks and to ensure the protection of all those living in occupied territories from discrimination.

On May 13, Amnesty International called upon Israeli authorities to “take action against platforms that allow incitement to hate crimes, such as groups on social networks and messaging applications” after a host of screenshots of hate-mongering messages were shared online.

“The commission of violent and even deadly hate crimes justified seeing them as platforms of incitement to be monitored and closed,” Amnesty wrote in a letter, saying this could reduce the horrific lynchings.

“We turned to the police several times already … and we reported on the plentiful and concrete evidence of organization of retaliatory actions against Arabs,” the letter added.

Amnesty’s letter also urged Israeli officials to classify the Lehava group, whose followers have instigated recent violence in the occupied territories, as a terrorist organization.

Spiraling levels of crime and violence against the Palestinian communities as well as the Israeli police’s inaction to curb violence have outraged Palestinian citizens of Israel, prompting tens of thousands of them to stage mass demonstrations.

Protesters took to the streets in the city of Umm al-Fahm northwest of Jenin on March 5 in what some reporters described as the largest rally against violence and organized crime in the Israeli-occupied territories since the 1980s.

The demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and placards condemning the Israeli police racism and complicity with criminal gangs.

They said Israeli forces refused to crack down on powerful criminal organizations in the occupied territories.

In recent years, there has been a steep rise in crime and violence against Arab communities across the occupied territories.

Since the beginning of 2021, 22 Arabs have died in violent Israeli attacks. According to Israeli police, 113 murders took place in Arab communities in 2020, making it the deadliest year yet.

In 2019, at least 91 Palestinian citizens were killed as a result of violent Israeli crimes, accounting for 71% of the 125 homicide victims in the occupied territories, where the community makes up about 21% of the population.

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