News ID: 120624
Published: 0221 GMT June 22, 2015

Rights group: Israel fails to protect Palestinians from settlers

Rights group: Israel fails to protect Palestinians from settlers

A human rights group has censured Israeli soldiers simply “standing by” and not doing enough to protect Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank against violent acts committed by Israeli settlers.

The Israeli human rights group, Yesh Din, released data about the Israeli soldiers’ indifference in a report generated over a period of 18 months with the collaboration of Breaking the Silence, another rights group, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday, Press TV reported.

Collecting statements from soldiers as well as 65 questionnaires, and also analyzing relevant protocols and instructions distributed among Israeli soldiers, the study found that commanding officers in the Israeli army have set a tone that “denies the army’s obligation,” including under international law, “to carry out the routine and daily policing and law enforcement activities that are among the main duties of an army that has held occupied territory for nearly five decades.”

The rights group said the Israeli military conducts limited training in handling the Israeli settlers’ violence.

“During basic training, a soldier is taught to fight, to attack… The only time he is taught to deal with the civilian population is in the last week of training. How much time does he spend on it ultimately? Five or six days?” the study quotes an Israeli captain as saying.

According to the report, an Israeli soldier, who was asked about his reaction if he saw a knife-wielding settler running toward a Palestinian, said he did not know the protocol for such a situation, adding, “I certainly wouldn’t shoot” the settler.

Based on the rights group’s findings, the Israeli army has defined some circumstances as “a red line” that, if crossed by settlers, should generate a response. However, the study added that the “standing by” practice on the side of soldiers is not a violation of military law and no soldier has ever been prosecuted for this or other related inappropriate behavior.

The Israeli army, meanwhile, has denounced the report and “tendentious,” saying its analysis of the facts is “biased.”

The report comes as Israeli forces as well as settlers regularly engage in violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Settlers, mostly armed, almost regularly attack Palestinian villages and farms and set fire to their mosques, olive groves and other properties in the West Bank.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East al-Quds (Jerusalem), in 1967.

Israeli settlements are considered illegal by much of the international community because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

Resource: Press TV
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