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    Israeli Pressure to Kill Suspects Must 'Be Stopped at the Highest Level' – HRW

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    Israeli soldiers and police have been incited by some of the country’s top politicians to ignore protocols when engaging with Palestinians who initiate attacks, Sari Bashi, Human Rights Watch's Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director, told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Human Rights Watch's Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director Sari Bashi claims that Israeli soldiers and police were egged on by high-ranking politicians to break the law when engaging with Palestinians.

    The interview came after the release of a new report by Human Rights Watch which claimed, in particular, that some top Israeli officials have been encouraging law enforcement officers to kill suspected Palestinian attackers whether it's necessary or not.

    The international human rights organization came to this conclusion after documenting the statements of senior Israeli politicians that run counter to both international law and Israeli rules of engagement.

    For example, HRW refers to a statement by the country's current defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, who in 2015 said 'no attacker, male or female, should make it out of any attack alive.'

    But only one Israeli soldier in the past year has been prosecuted for using excessive force and shooting a Palestinian.

    A Palestinian man walks amidst debris after Israeli authorities demolished a building in the village of Sebastia, near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on August 9, 2016
    © AFP 2019 / Jaafar Ashtiyeh
    A Palestinian man walks amidst debris after Israeli authorities demolished a building in the village of Sebastia, near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on August 9, 2016

    Speaking to Sputnik, Sari Bashi recalled in this context that this week will see the announcement of verdict on an Israeli soldier who shot and killed a wounded Palestinian.

    "That verdict is controversial because many in Israel feel that Israeli soldiers should not be tried, and we of course eager to see what the court will decide," Bashi said.

    She underscored that beyond the behavior of a one Israeli soldier "there is a much bigger problem of senior Israeli officials either encouraging soldiers and police to shoot to kill [Palestinians] when it's not necessary to protect life or failing to rein in those who use excessive force."

    When asked about whether it is relevant to group together Israeli soldiers and police who have completely different roles, Bashi pointed to the historical background of the problem.

    "In the context of a nearly fifty year occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip most of what soldiers are doing is police work," she said.

    "The problem is that Israeli officials are encouraging security officers to disobey both Israeli law and international law, and use lethal force when unnecessary."

    She mentioned more than 150 cases of Israeli soldiers and police "fatally shooting attackers or suspected attackers" in the past 18 months.

    "In some cases the use of force was probably justified, but the concern is that soldier and police are being egged by the most senior political and security officials to go far beyond the rule of law on human rights, something that needs to be stopped at the highest level," she said.

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