Israeli forces used excessive force to disperse Palestinian protests against forced expulsion in occupied East Jerusalem as well as against Gaza war, while illegal Jewish supremacists were allowed to organise riots freely, says Amnesty International.

Jewish supremacist group members shared selfies posing with guns and messages such as
Jewish supremacist group members shared selfies posing with guns and messages such as "Tonight we are not Jews, we are Nazis". (AP)

Amnesty International has said that Israeli police committed a catalogue of violations against Palestinians in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem –– including using unlawful force against peaceful protesters, sweeping mass arrests, and subjecting detainees to torture and other ill-treatment –– during a recent war in Gaza and hostilities in occupied West Bank.

A press release published by Amnesty International on Thursday showed findings that Israeli police actions were repressive and discriminatory, with police failing to protect Palestinian citizens of Israel from premeditated attacks by groups of armed Jewish supremacists, even when plans were publicised in advance and police knew or should have known of them.

Amnesty said that police used unnecessary and excessive force to disperse Palestinian protests against forced expulsion in East Jerusalem as well as against the Gaza offensive, while illegal Jewish supremacists were allowed to organise demonstrations freely.

According to the Palestinian human rights group Mossawa, by 10 June Israeli police had arrested more than 2,150 people - more than 90 percent Palestinian citizens of Israel or residents of occupied East Jerusalem. 

Most Palestinians were detained for offences such as "insulting or assaulting a police officer" or "taking part in an illegal gathering" rather than for violent attacks on people or property, according to the Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.

Damning picture of discrimination

Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International's Middle East Deputy Director, said: "The evidence gathered by Amnesty International paints a damning picture of discrimination and ruthless excessive force by Israeli police against Palestinians in Israel and in occupied East Jerusalem."

He added, "The few Jewish citizens of Israel arrested were dealt with more leniently. Jewish supremacists also continue to organise demonstrations while Palestinians face repression. Police have an obligation to protect all people under Israel’s control, whether they are Jewish or Palestinian." 

"Instead, the vast majority arrested in the police crackdown following the outbreak of inter-communal violence were Palestinian."

Excessive and unlawful killings

Amnesty research included reporting of cases where Israeli police used excessive force as on May 12 when 17-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Kiwan was shot in the head near Umm el-Fahem, northern Israel, and died a week later. 

Eyewitnesses say he was sitting in a car near a protest when Israeli police shot him. 

Police dispute this, and say they are investigating.  

On the same day, police officers violently dispersed a peaceful protest of around 40 people in St Mary’s Well Square in Nazareth, physically assaulting protesters. 

The research found that Israeli police used unlawful force in occupied East Jerusalem. 

On 18 May, police shot 15-year-old Jana Kiswani in the back as she entered her home in Sheikh Jarrah. 

A protest had taken place nearby a few hours earlier. 

Her father, Muhammad, told Amnesty that her vertebrae were shattered and that doctors do not know if she will walk again. 

Verified video footage shows Kiswani falling to the ground as she is shot from behind.

The research mentioned another verified video showing an Israeli police officer casually firing a powerful Stand Alone IWI GL 40 grenade launcher at a person off-screen, followed by screaming. 

READ MORE: Post-ceasefire Israeli raids on Palestinians are a revenge campaign

Failure to protect from Jewish supremacists

Amnesty said police failed to protect Palestinians from organised attacks by groups of armed Jewish supremacists, whose plans were often publicised in advance. 

The organisation has verified 29 text and audio messages from open Telegram channels and WhatsApp revealing how the apps were used to recruit armed men and organise attacks on Palestinians in cities such as Haifa, Acre, Nazareth and Lod between May 10 and 21. 

Messages included instructions on where and when to gather, types of weaponry to use and even clothing to wear to avoid confusing Jews of Middle Eastern heritage with Palestinian Arabs. 

Group members shared selfies posing with guns and messages such as "Tonight we are not Jews, we are Nazis".

Politicians and government officials have also incited violence. 

On May 11, riots broke out after Itamar Ben-Gvir, a Jewish Power parliamentary representative, rallied supporters to come to Lod and other towns and called for pro-Palestinian stone-throwers to be shot.

READ MORE: Are Israeli mobs becoming armed militias?

Torture in custody  

The research explained the case of Musa Hassuna who was shot dead by a Jewish Israeli citizen in Lod during inter-communal violence as a video shows him being shot while he was near a group of Palestinians throwing rocks. 

His father blamed the town's mayor, Yair Revivo, for "calling up extremists to do this thuggery” in reference to a statement in which the mayor described events in Lod as a pogrom on Jews. 

Four suspects were arrested over the killing but released on bail three days later. Israel's Minister for Public Security, Amir Ohana openly condemned the arrests, calling them "terrible".

By contrast, the deputy leader of the Northern Islamist Movement, Kamal al Khatib, was arrested on May 14 and charged with incitement to violence and supporting a terrorist organisation over comments in which he expressed solidarity with people in besieged Gaza and occupied East Jerusalem.

Amnesty has also documented torture at the Russian Compound (Moskobiya) police station in Nazareth on May 12. 

An eyewitness said they saw special forces beating a group of at least eight bound detainees who had been arrested at a protest. 

READ MORE: Harmonious coexistence is a myth for Palestinians in Israel

Source: TRTWorld and agencies