Jurists gravely concerned by the illegal use of force in the West Bank and Gaza

The ICJ is gravely concerned by the indiscriminate and excessive use of force against Palestinians within the Palestinian Autonomous Areas.

The illegal use of force by the Israeli military against the Palestinian civilians yesterday in the Ramallah Area that left 6 persons dead and at least 246 injured, led to clashes between the Israeli army and the Palestinian Police. The clashes then escalated and spread throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Today, at least 33 more Palestinians were killed and several hundreds wounded.

No Israelis were killed yesterday but 6 were injured. Today, 10 Israeli soldiers were killed and 40 injured.

Tension escalated on Tuesday, 24 September after Israeli authorities opened a tunnel underneath the Aqsa Mosque Compound, the third holiest site in Islam. The Palestinians assert that the construction of the tunnel will erode the very foundation of the holy site. The Israel Government denies this claim, stating that the tunnel will promote tourism.

Violence erupted when Israeli forces opened fire on Wednesday, 25 September at demonstrators in Ramallah. While remaining within the Palestinian-controlled areas, the demonstrators marched towards an area under joint Israeli/Palestinian control. The Israeli forces indiscriminately fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas from several positions. Today, the Israeli forces employed tanks and helicopters within the Palestinian Autonomous Areas.

The Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip dated 28 September 1995, requires the Palestinian Police and the Israeli military forces to exercise their powers and responsibilities “with due regard to internationally-accepted norms of human rights and the rule of law…”

The indiscriminate and excessive use of force by the Israeli military violates international human rights and humanitarian law. First, Israeli forces have been firing at Palestinian civilians while they were still within the Palestinian-controlled areas. Second, the force used has been indiscriminate as it has not been directed against a specific military objective, nor has its effect been limited. Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law. Third, the use of force has been disproportionate. Use of force is permitted under international law only if it is necessary and proportionate to the posed threat.

The ICJ calls on the Israeli Government to immediately respect international law by ordering its forces to desist from using indiscriminate and excessive force. It calls on the international community to ensure that the Government of Israel respect international law. The ICJ also appeals to both parties to cease firing and negotiate an effective conclusion to the conflict.

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