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Majority of Israeli Jews back shoot-to-kill policy: Study

Israeli Democracy Institute study shows a majority of Israeli Jews support the army's actions against Palestinians
An Israeli solider apprehends a Palestinian woman at a checkpoint in the West Bank (AA)
Suzanne Russ

An Israeli think tank recently released results of a study revealing that the majority of Israelis support the extra-judicial assassination of Palestinians who are accused of carrying out attacks against Israelis.

The study also showed that a greater majority supports collective punishment in the form of house demolitions against Palestinians accused of carrying out violent crimes against Israeli Jews.

The report, released by the Israeli Democracy Institute, said: “A majority of the Jewish public (57 percent) fears that they themselves or someone important to them will be harmed in the current wave of attacks. Nonetheless, 64 percent report that they have not changed their daily habits – taking public transportation, altering shopping routines – due to the security situation.”

Despite the ever-growing divide between the number of Palestinians killed in the current intifada compared to Israelis, approval ratings of Israel’s police and military forces are steady and supportive.

The report stated that Jewish groups in Israel gave an approval rating to the Israeli army of 93 percent. They gave an approval rating to the police of 84.5 percent, the Shin Beit forces of 71 percent and the government’s overall performance at handling the recent violence at 55.3 percent.

Palestinians as well as human rights leaders and academics around the world have been quick to comment on their concerns regarding the survey's findings.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Mosher Amer at the Islamic University in Gaza told Middle East Eye: "These latest polls will only give Israel’s occupation army yet another green light to continue its repressive measure against the Palestinian people. This was tried before, since during the second Palestinian Intifada, a similar slogan raised by Israelis was 'let the army win' which backed Israel’s army in waging a large-scale repressive war against the Palestinians.

"With an Israeli public that is too much obsessed with its own security and insensible to Palestinians’ terrible conditions under occupation and their aspirations for liberation and freedom, the Israeli army will take such Israeli feelings to exercise more systematic violence and brutalities against the Palestinians."

Dr Ghada Ageel at the University of Alberta said: "The Israeli army and police supported by a large portion of Israeli society have displayed a callous disregard for Palestinian life over the past seven decades. In a recent statement, Amnesty International demanded that Israel stop unlawful killings of Palestinians, stating that Israeli forces appeared to have 'ripped up the rulebook.'

"With the alarming findings of this study, it seems that Israeli society has also ripped the rules of humanity. Until this system is brought to account, sanctioned, divested from and boycotted, more innocent Palestinian blood will be shed. To help save lives and save a broken humanity, it is the time for the International Criminal Court to act."

The report, released on 5 November, came ahead of a particularly bloody weekend that witnessed the extra-judicial killings of two Palestinians, the serious wounding of another and the death of one Israeli police officer.

On Monday, Israeli forces shot dead a 24-year-old Palestinian woman who was attempting to carry out a knife attack at a checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank city of Qalqilya.

According to Israeli media outlet Ynet, the woman was carrying a note that read, "I'm doing this with a clear head. I can't bear what I see and I can't suffer anymore."

At least 77 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of October, more than half of whom were killed related to alleged stabbing attacks. International rights groups have criticised Israel’s so-called heavy-handed approach, with several groups calling on the state to end its practice of “extrajudicial killings”.

During the same time period, in addition to Palestinian attacks on Israeli military, police and civilians, Palestinians and Israeli forces have clashed in daily battles throughout the occupied territories.

Al Jazeera also reported that a joint statement published by nine Israeli NGOs last month decried Israeli forces' "shoot-to-kill" policy.