B’Tselem: IDF violence against Palestinians down in Gaza, but up in West Bank

December 31, 2013 01:15

Increase in West Bank violence by 238% compared to 2012; report did not analyze the reasons for the rise in West Bank fatalities or the drop in the Gaza deaths.

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MOURNERS CARRY the body of Odah Hamad at his fun. (photo credit: Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

The number of Palestinians killed in 2013 by IDF-related violence in the Gaza Strip dropped by 96 percent compared to 2012, but rose in the West Bank by almost 238%, according to information published Monday by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem.

The relatively high number of Palestinian fatalities in Gaza in 2012 was largely due to an eight-day IDF action named Operation Pillar of Defense in November of that year. It broke out after hostilities flared with Hamas.

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According to B’Tselem, 246 Palestinians were killed by the IDF in the Gaza Strip that year; 167 of those deaths came during Pillar of Defense. B’Tselem noted that 104 of the 167 were not taking part in the hostilities.

Even if one compares the nine Palestinian fatalities from IDF-related violence in the Gaza Strip this year to the 79 that occurred outside Pillar of Defense, the drop is still significant, at 89%.

In 2013, the highest number of Palestinian fatalities was in the West Bank, where Israeli security forces killed 27 Palestinians in 21 incidents. The IDF killed eight Palestinians there last year.

The report did not analyze the reasons for the rise in West Bank fatalities or the drop in the Gaza deaths, but provided details about the 21 incidents involving Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank this year.

Nine of the incidents involved security forces entering Palestinian communities to arrest wanted suspects, B’Tselem said. In four of these cases, soldiers shot at stone throwers. In another four there were exchanges of live fire. The NGO said it was unable to verify the ninth incident, in which both sides were said to have shot at each other.

The report said that seven of the incidents involved stone throwing. In four of those cases, soldiers fired at Palestinians who were throwing stones at them. In the other three, soldiers fired “while lying in wait to capture stone throwers,” B’Tselem said.

B’Tselem said that this year in the Gaza Strip, Israeli security forces killed four Palestinians engaged in violence against Israel. Another, it said, was killed in a targeted assassination. In the sixth case, the circumstances of the death were unclear. The NGO added that in three instances, the Palestinians were not taking part in hostilities when they were killed.

The report also chastised the IDF Adjutancy-General Corps for failing to hold soldiers accountable for their actions in spite of a new, more stringent policy adopted almost three years ago.

The B’Tselem report also recorded that Palestinians killed three Israeli civilians this year, two in the West Bank and one in Israel near the Gaza border, compared to four Israeli civilians killed last year, all by Palestinian rocket fire in the South. Separately, Palestinians killed three Israeli security personnel in Israel and the West Bank. In 2012 there were no Israeli civilian fatalities from Palestinian violence in the West Bank or Israel.

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