Amnesty's War on Israel: Accusations of "Unlawful Killings" without Evidence
On October 27, 2015, Amnesty International published a fundamentally flawed statement alleging a “clear pattern…of lethal force being used unlawfully by Israeli forces following a wave of recent stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians and military or police forces in Israel and the occupied West Bank.” This is at least the third statement from Amnesty since the escalation of Palestinian terror attacks beginning October 1 that makes such accusations, and demonstrates the organization’s on-going obsession with and disproportionate focus on Israel. None of Amnesty’s prior statements has focused exclusively on Israeli victims of these attacks, which have numbered in the hundreds – each one illegal and a blatant violation of human rights and domestic and international law. Moreover, Amnesty has remained silent on the vicious antisemitism and incitement campaign promoted by Palestinian officials, which has spurred on the attacks against Israeli civilians.
Amnesty International promotes an ideological agenda utilizing anonymous “witnesses,” cherry-picked “evidence,” and false statements of law, to portray Palestinians as sole victims and Israelis as continual aggressors regardless of specific events and policies. This statement is no exception.
Amnesty presents zero evidence to support its allegations. It does present entirely unverified and unverifiable testimony from anonymous Palestinian eyewitnesses. Israeli victims and security personnel are not mentioned.
Amnesty deliberately ignores existing evidence, including multiple videos that demonstrate the lethality and chaos of the stabbing, shooting, and car-ramming attacks. (Some of these videos can be viewed here, here, and here. They are graphic; viewer discretion advised.) The one selective reference to a video is where Amnesty cannot determine the salient question as to whether the Palestinian had a knife in his hand or not.
Failure to establish a “clear pattern”
Amnesty cherry-picks four incidents out of dozens where security forces neutralized attackers. (And one of the four is from before October 1 and irrelevant to the responses to the current wave of terror attacks.) A comprehensive evaluation of Israeli responses to ongoing terror attacks would show a pattern of justifiable shootings, as well as numerous instances of Israeli police protecting wounded and detained perpetrators from vigilante justice.
Moreover, as seen in the videos of the incidents, in addition to rampaging against unarmed civilians, the Palestinian attackers have violently confronted and tried to kill security personnel.
Yet, Amnesty asserts, without knowledge, evidence or context, that Israeli officers could and should have used less force.
Erroneous legal claims
Amnesty writes that “heavily armed soldiers and police wearing body armour facing a possible knife attack have a duty to use proportionate and graduated force and attempt to arrest suspects before resorting to the use of lethal force.”
There is no requirement under international law that security forces, even those wearing body armor, must risk being severely injured or killed, or that they are prohibited from using lethal force when being charged at by an attacker.
Lack of credible researchers
The statement claims to present “findings of an ongoing research trip to the West Bank.” However, the researchers and staff members assigned to reporting on Israel have clear histories as anti-Israel activists, and generate analyses that are both inaccurate and blatantly prejudiced.
Jacob Burns (research and campaign assistant), who currently is in the region, previously worked for Forensic Architecture, a pseudo-scientific project that, in partnership with Amnesty International, made unsubstantiated charges of Israeli war crimes. In addition, Deborah Hyams (“researcher”) has an extensive background in radical anti-Israel activism, including acting as a “human shield” in Beit Jala (near Bethlehem) in 2001. Saleh Hijazi (“campaigner”) previously worked in PR for the Palestinian Authority and for the NGO “Another Voice” – under the group’s signature “Resist! Boycott! We Are Intifada!”
As long as these individuals are involved in producing research publications, analyses, and other materials relating to Israel, Amnesty cannot be considered a credible or impartial party to the conflict.