Arms sales to Middle East increase dramatically, research shows

Saudi Arabia’s arms purchases grew by 192 percent over 2014-2018 (AFP)

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New York, United States

Arms flows to the Middle East grew by 87 percent in the past five years and now account for more than a third of the global trade, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report on Sunday.

The defence think tank’s annual survey showed that Saudi Arabia became the world’s top arms importer between 2014-18, with a growth of 192 percent compared to the preceding five years.

Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq also ranked in the top 10 list of global arms buyers.

The report shows how the United States and European nations sell jets, jeeps and other gear that is used in controversial wars in Yemen and beyond, SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman told Middle East Eye.

“Weapons from the US, the UK and France are in high demand in the Gulf, where conflicts and tensions are rife. Russia, France and Germany dramatically increased their arms sales to Egypt in the past five years,” said Wezeman.

The growth in Middle Eastern imports was, in part, driven by the need to replace military gear that was deployed and destroyed in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya, said Wezeman.

It was also driven by tensions and a regional arms race, he added.

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The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel are readying for a potential conflict with Iran, said the 12-page report. Since 2017, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and others have rowed with Qatar in a rift, which, at times, looked like it could turn violent.

Between 2014-18, Saudi received 94 combat jets fitted with cruise missiles and other guided weapons from the US and Britain.

Over the next five years, it is set to get 98 more jets, 83 tanks and defensive missile systems from the US, 737 armoured vehicles from Canada, five frigates from Spain, and Ukrainian short-range ballistic missiles.

Between 2014-18, the UAE received missile defence systems, short-range ballistic missiles and some 1,700 armoured personnel carriers from the US as well as three corvettes from France, the report says.

Qatari imports grew by 225 percent over the period, including German tanks, French combat aircraft and Chinese short-range ballistic missiles. It is set to receive 93 combat aircraft from the US, France and Britain and four frigates from Italy.

Iran, which is under a UN arms embargo, accounted for just 0.9 percent of Middle Eastern imports.

For Wezeman, “the gap is widening” between Iran and its foes across the Gulf, which have more advanced weapons.

US remains top arms seller

The US has kept its position as the world’s top arms seller. Its exports grew by 29 percent these past five years, with more than half of its shipments (52 percent) going to customers in the Middle East.

British sales grew by 5.9 percent over the same period. A total of 59 percent of UK arms deliveries went to the Middle East — most of it combat aircraft destined for Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Arming governments in the turbulent Middle East is increasingly controversial in the West, said Patrick Wilcken, an arms control specialist with Amnesty International, a UK-based rights watchdog.

He pointed to cases where sales are merited – such as re-tooling Iraq’s army after it lost much of its hardware and territory during the so-called Islamic State (IS) group’s surprise attack in 2014.

But, more often, western arms end up being used in human rights abuses, he added, pointing to Egypt’s crackdown on opponents, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

He blasted the “hypocrisy” of western governments not following their own rules by continuing to supply authoritarian leaders who commit wartime abuses or violations against their own people.

“A critical problem for the region is the emergence of armed groups like IS,” Wilcken told MEE.

A critical problem for the region is the emergence of armed groups like IS

– Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International

“In Yemen, totally unaccountable militias are being armed and supported by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which is setting the scene for a future period of instability and human rights violations.”

The problem has not gone unnoticed in western capitals.

In the US, lawmakers in both houses have passed resolutions to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition, though US President Donald Trump has vowed to veto the document if it reaches his desk.

In Britain, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a ban on arms exports to Saudi. Last month, a parliamentary committee concluded that the UK was on “the wrong side of the law” by arming Riyadh.

In October, Amnesty released a report about French-built armoured vehicles being used by Egyptian government forces to “disperse protests and crush dissent” in crackdowns between 2012-2015.

Germany, however, has taken a stand. This week, it extended until the end of March a unilateral freeze on arms supplies to Saudi over its war in Yemen and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This has caused a rift with Britain and France, its partners in European defence projects, as it puts a question mark over orders, including a $13.1bn deal to sell 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Riyadh.

Jeff Abramson, a scholar at the Arms Control Association, an advocacy group, said the US should follow Germany’s example.

“Instead of being challenged, the US continues to claim a larger share of an expanding global arms market,” Abramson told MEE.

“As such, the US should take the lead in promoting responsible behavior, rather than encouraging trade to repressive and irresponsible regimes, such as those in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

Other findings

The report made other interesting findings.

These past five years, Turkey has increased exports of armoured vehicles, missiles and other gear by 170 percent, becoming the world’s 14th most important arms exporter and the second biggest in the Middle East, after Israel.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were among Turkey’s top three importers of weapons in the past five years, despite Ankara being at odds with its customers over Khashoggi and the blockade on Qatar.

Continuing to buy arms from Turkey may be a bid by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to keep ties with Ankara on track despite the rift, said Wezeman.

Also, Algeria increased its arms imports by 55 percent over the past five years, with shipments from Russia, China, Germany and elsewhere.

This made it the world’s fifth biggest arms importer despite only having a $168bn economy.

Algeria buys arms for military prestige, to tackle militants from neighbouring Libya and because of its “long-standing rivalry with Morocco”, said Wezeman.

Sipri measures the volume of deliveries of arms, not the dollar value of deals. The volume of deliveries to each country tend to fluctuate, so it presents data in five-year periods that a give a more stable indication of trends.

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Yemen: US Arms in Hands of ISIL, Intelligence Fiasco for Washington

Amnesty: UAE Diverting Arms to Militias Committing War Crimes in Yemen

February 6, 2019

Logo of Amnesty International organization

Amnesty International accused the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday of diverting arms supplied by Western and other states to “unaccountable militias accused of war crimes” in Yemen.

“Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to syphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes,” Amnesty said in a statement.

“The proliferation of these fighting forces is a recipe for disaster for Yemeni civilians who have already been killed in their thousands, while millions more are on the brink of famine as a direct result of the war,” the human rights group said.

The UAE government media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Amnesty statement.

The UAE has trained and armed thousands of Yemeni fighters, mostly in southern provinces and western coastal areas.

Many Western nations provide weapons and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition, which has been since March 2015 waging a brutal war on Yemen.

Amnesty called on states to suspend arms sales to the warring parties until there is “no longer a substantial risk” they may be used to breach humanitarian or human rights law.

SourceReuters

Yemen: US Arms in Hands of ISIL, Intelligence Fiasco for Washington

Yemen: US Arms in Hands of ISIL, Intelligence Fiasco for Washington

Wed Feb 06, 2019 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The disclosed news on Saudi Arabia and the UAE delivering American arms and weaponry to al-Qaeda and ISIL terrorists is an intelligence ignominy for Washington, President of Yemen’s Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said.

Al-Houthi referred to US claims on sending American arms by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to Al-Qaeda and Salafi militias, saying US is responsible for killing Yemenis.

He said if it comes true, it will bring an intelligence scandal for the US meaning that the country has no mechanism to control its arms and has given weaponry to others with no conditions and against international regulations, Yemeni news outlet Al-Masirah reported.

Al-Houthi called for taking practical steps and decisions to stop US support of Saudi coalition against Yemen as the real roadmap for supporting peace in Yemen.

CNN reported on Monday that Riyadh is “transferring” American weapons to al-Qaeda terrorists and Salafi militias in Yemen, a report revealed.

Saudi Arabia and its main accomplice in the war on Yemen, the UAE, “have used the US-manufactured weapons as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape”, CNN said in the report, citing local commanders on the ground and analysts.

The report claimed that Ansarullah fighters have also managed to gain access to the weapons “exposing some of America’s sensitive military technology to Tehran”.

During his maiden state visit, US President Donald Trump went to Saudi Arabia where he signed a massive $110 billion arms deal with the oil-rich kingdom. According to the Department of Defense, the monarchy is breaking the terms of its arms deal with Washington.

The Monday report further suggested that the American president “has lost control over” the royal family, questioning whether it is “responsible enough to be allowed to continue buying the sophisticated arms and fighting hardware”.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Ansarullah movement.

Official UN figures say that more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began in March 2015. But the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) believes that at least 56,000 people have lost their lives in the war. The violence has also left around two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relying on aid amid an ongoing strict naval and aerial blockade. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Save the Children, a charity, has reported that more than 84,700 children under the age of five may have starved to death in Yemen since the Saudi regime and a coalition of its allies launched the brutal war on the already-impoverished nation.

Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with more than 22 million people in need and is seeing a spike in needs, fuelled by ongoing conflict, a collapsing economy and diminished social services and livelihoods.

A number of Western countries, the US, the UK, and France in particular, are accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

an Oxfam representative stated that the US, UK, and French governments are behind millions of people starving in Yemen because they are “supporting this war”.

“We have 14 million people starving,” Richard Stanforth, Oxfam UK’s regional policy officer for the Middle East, told RT, adding that “British, French, American governments are all behind this, they are all supporting this war”.

A UN panel has compiled a detailed report of civilian casualties caused by the Saudi military and its allies during their war against Yemen, saying the Riyadh-led coalition has used precision-guided munitions in its raids on civilian targets.

 

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New Amnesty report examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor benefit from the israeli (apartheid state) occupation

New Amnesty report examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor benefit from the Israeli occupation

Logo from the new Amnesty International campaign to get TripAdvisor to stop listing in Israeli settlements. (Image: Amnesty International)

Logo from the new Amnesty International campaign to get TripAdvisor to stop listing in Israeli settlements. (Image: Amnesty International)

Yet, shortly after its announcement Airbnb met with Israeli government officials and announced that it would not be implementing the policy after all. It then issued a maddening set of contradictory statements, which amounted to it wanting to both have its settlement-cake and eat it too. As of this week, Airbnb has yet to implement its new ban policy, as Judy Maltz noted yesterday in Haaretz. In other words, Airbnb is profiting from war crimes, and hoping that it will be forgotten, while it obfuscates its criminality with contradictory statements.

 

Cover of the new Amnesty International report “Destination: Occupation”

The story continues. Yesterday, Amnesty International released a report titled “Destination: Occupation”. In addition to Airbnb and Booking.com, Amnesty also targets Expedia and TripAdvisor:

Digital companies are revolutionizing how the world does tourism. Corporations like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor, which dominate the multi-billion-dollar global online tourism industry, have become hugely successful. These companies all also list numerous hotels, B&Bs, attractions or tours in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). They are doing so despite knowing that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law, and a war crime.

Amnesty notes the hypocrisy of these companies when it comes to “ethical values” in no uncertain terms:

All four companies claim to operate under high ethical values and respect for the rule of law. However, none of these standards appears to influence the companies’ decisions in relation to settlement listings. In doing business with settlements, all four companies are contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law. Their promotion of Israeli settlements in the OPT as a tourist destination also has the effect of “normalizing”, and legitimizing to the public what is recognized under international law as an illegal situation.

The report also goes further than the Human Rights Watch report, in that it notes how, even if Airbnb would finally apply its policy and pull out of West Bank Israeli settlements, it would still be a violator in East Jerusalem:

Finally, since the company [Airbnb] did not extend its delisting commitment to settlements in East Jerusalem, the company is and will continue to be involved in human rights violations associated with these settlements for as long as it continues to do business with them. (p. 79)

Judy Maltz notes that “the online property rental company has not explained why it made this exception” – but the explanation is simple – Human Rights Watch did not include East Jerusalem in their focus, so why would Airbnb even bother? Likewise, Amnesty included East Jerusalem, but not the occupied Syrian Jolan (Golan Heights). That too is occupied territory. So, there are layers of criminality here, and we are only scraping the icing of the cake.

Nonetheless, Amnesty is clear in relation to these companies and Occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem):

‘To comply with their responsibilities to uphold international humanitarian law and respect human rights, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor must therefore stop listing tourist accommodation, activities and attractions in settlements or run by settlers in the OPT, including East Jerusalem.’ (p. 85)

Expedia and Booking.com respond

Amnesty managed to get two responses – from Expedia and Booking.com, which it published in an annex to the report (p. 92-93).

Expedia’s response first feigns innocence:

Expedia Group does not operate hotels, vacation rentals or travel products itself.  We allow any accommodation provider to sign up to our platform in accordance with laws applicable to Expedia Group.

It then thanks Amnesty in what appears to be boilerplate customer-service:

Expedia Group is committed to providing transparency to our customers when travelling to disputed territories globally and we appreciate Amnesty International bringing its concerns on this complex issue to our attention.  In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we identify these accommodations as “Israeli Settlement” located in Palestinian Territory… The issues raised in your letter are an important input as we continue to assess the type of information we provide to our travelers.

Let’s not beat around the bush. This is not just about ‘information’ – it’s about withdrawing your listings. In any case, the claim that identifying a location as an “Israeli settlement” is exonerating, is confronted by Amnesty in the report section titled “Misleading advertising” (p. 77):

Allowing some properties and attractions to be listed as being in “Israel”, as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor do, not only deceives users, but also helps conceal information that can help reveal the illegal nature of the settlements. This can lead to customers inadvertently supporting illegal Israeli settlements. Describing them as located in an “Israeli settlement” or in “Palestinian Territories” is still only a partial truth. Users are still deprived of information revealing the critical fact that these properties have been built illegally on occupied Palestinian land. The failure to provide such important information is tantamount to misleading advertising, which is typically sanctioned under consumer protection laws.

Booking.com finally spoke, and like Expedia, started by claiming it is not involved in direct booking:

Booking. com does not buy or (re)sell any rooms nor does it operate as a travel or tourist agency.

Displaying shockingly bad taste, Booking.com continues on by promoting itself:

Our mission at Booking.com is to empower people to experience the world. The Booking.com website and mobile apps are available in over 40 languages, offer more than 28 million total reported listings, and cover more than 130,000 destinations in 228 countries and territories worldwide.

One would think that Booking.com copy pasted this from one of their advertisements. But this is serious – it’s an 96-page Amnesty International report with nearly 500 references, concerning violations of international law. This is no place to be bragging.

Like Expedia, Booking.com ends up claiming innocence because it writes “Israeli settlements”:

By marking properties concerned as being in ‘Israeli settlements’ we provide transparency to anybody looking (or not looking) for accommodations in these territories.

Right now, it is Airbnb which is taking the turn to keep silent, whereas TripAdvisor, with its wise-owl logo, is just playing the ostrich.

Israeli response

As we may have expected, Israel is ferocious. Maltz reports:

Minister Gilad Erdan said he had instructed the Strategic Affairs Ministry to examine the possibility of banning Amnesty personnel from entering and staying in Israel, saying the organization was promoting an anti-Semitic campaign. Erdan further said that he had approached the finance minister weeks ago with a request to end the organization’s tax benefits.

None of this is surprising. Although the Amnesty report is impressive, it is only a beginning. First we get the usual responses of trying-to-get-away-with-it from some companies, and silence from others; we get the usual hysteria from the Israeli government calling it anti-Semitic. But this is a process. It needs to result in action, which the companies will be unwilling to follow through with, since their complicity in crime is still assessed to give them profit.

Amnesty has made recommendations to the companies, as well as various involved governments (including Israel) and UN. Yet it has not made recommendations to consumers, as this is apparently not the mandate of Amnesty. But this is very much something that consumers all over the world need to be aware of. Since these companies are built on popular consumer participation, they can also be influenced by a consumer boycott. And that’s where you and me come into the picture.

 

AI: Verdict on Bahrain’s Salman Is Bitter Blow to Freedom of Expression

Local Editor

Amnesty International slammed Bahrain’s verdict on opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman.

Responding to the news that Bahrain’s Court of Cassation has upheld the conviction of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director Samah Hadid said:

“Today’s verdict is yet another nail in the coffin for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain and exposes the country’s justice system as a complete farce. The decision to uphold Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and life prison sentence following an unfair trial highlights the authorities’ determination to silence critical voices”.

She went on to say, “The Bahraini authorities must quash Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally. They should also rescind the decision to dissolve the two opposition political groups, al-Wefaq and Wa’ad, and guarantee the right of everyone to freedom of association”.

Sheikh Ali Salman has been repeatedly arrested and charged for his perceived critical views of the authorities.

On 4 November 2018, he was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of alleged trumped-up spying charges. Two other al-Wefaq members, Ali al-Aswad and Sheikh Hassan Sultan, were convicted in their absence during the same trial.

On 28 January 2019, Bahrain’s Al Khalifa regime’s Supreme Court upheld a life term over the alleged “spying” for Qatar.

Source: AI, Edited by website team

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Bahraini Regime Court Overturns Sheikh Salman Acquittal, Hands Him Life Term

Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of Bahraini opposition group, al-Wefaq

Bahraini Regime Court Overturns Sheikh Salman Acquittal, Hands Him Life Term

November 4, 2018

Bahrain’s appeals court sentenced the head of the country’s main opposition movement to jail for life Sunday over charges of alleged spying for rival Gulf state Qatar.

Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq movement, had been acquitted by the high criminal court in June, a verdict the public prosecution appealed.

The latest ruling on Sunday can also be appealed.

Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, severed all ties with Qatar in 2017, banning their citizens from travel to or communication with the emirate over what they say are Doha’s ties to both Iran and radical Islamist groups.

Salman is currently serving a four-year sentence in a separate case — “inciting hatred” in the kingdom, which has seen mainly pro-democracy protests against the monarchy since 2011.

In November, Salman and two other members of Al-Wefaq were charged with working for Qatari intelligence with the aim of “overthrowing the Bahraini government.”

King Hamad has announced parliamentary elections on November 24 in Bahrain. Members of dissolved opposition parties, including Al-Wefaq and the secular Al-Waad group, are banned from running.

The Sunni-ruled Gulf state has been hit by waves of pro-democracy protests since 2011, when security forces crushed demonstrators demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Opposition movements have been outlawed and hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned — with many stripped of their nationality.

The United Nations and rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the Bahraini monarchy over its treatment of protesters.

Amnesty and HRW categorize Salman and other jailed opposition leaders as prisoners of conscience.

SourceAFP

Amnesty: Sheikh Salman Conviction “Unlawful, Politically Motivated”

November 4, 2018

Protestor Raising Sheikh Salman's Photo

Amnesty International described as “unlawful” Bahraini regime’s overturning the acquittal of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman.

Shortly after it was announced that Bahraini Appeal Court has overturned the acquittal of Sheikh Salman and sentenced him instead to life in prison, the watchdog called for the direct release of the Bahraini opposition leader.

“This verdict is a travesty of justice that demonstrates the Bahraini authorities’ relentless and unlawful efforts to silence any form of dissent. Sheikh Ali Salman is a prisoner of conscience who is being held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression,” Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director Heba Morayef said.

“The Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Sheikh Ali Salman and quash his politically motivated conviction and sentence”.

Morayef also slammed the international community over keeping silence on the human rights record in Bahrain.

“The international community’s silence on the continued crackdown on dissent must also come to an end. Instead of ignoring criticism of Bahrain’s human rights record, the country’s political allies must use their influence to push for the release of Sheikh Ali Salman and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain”.

SourceAmnesty International

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Syrian War Report – October 19, 2018: ISIS Captures 700 Hostages Including US, EU Citizens

South Front

19.10.2018

ISIS has captured 700 hostages, including US and European citizens, in Syria and is killing 10 people a day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the Valdai Discussion Club’s 15th Annual Meeting on October 18. He criticized US forces for this “catastrophic” failure adding that the terrorists “have delivered ultimatums and made certain demands, threatening … to shoot ten people every day.” According to Putin, the terrorists already started carrying out their threats and executed ten hostages two days ago.

On October 17, the Russian news agency TASS reported citing a military diplomatic source that the hostages were captured by ISIS in the province of Deir Ezzor during a failed advance of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the US-led coalition.

On October 18, the SDF repelled an ISIS attack near the village of al-Baghuz al-Fawqani in the Euphrates Valley. During the recent clashes in the Hajin pocket, the SDF destroyed a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device and 15 ISIS members. 2 SDF members also died.

According to the Syrian state media, US-led coalition warplanes bombed civilian buildings in the village of al-Susah killing and injuring multiple civilians. The US-led coalition is often avoiding to comment on such reports. However, even Amnesty International says that Washington is hiding the real number of civilian casualties as a result of its operations in Syria.

Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey informed the UN that the timeline for the implementation of the Idlib de-confliction agreement had been expanded. One of the key problems behind the delay is the unwillingness of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and similar terrorist groups to withdraw from the agreed demilitarized zone.

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israel (apartheid state) Kills Six Palestinians Within 24 Hours In Utter Disregard For Life

Israel Kills Six Palestinians Within 24 Hours In Utter Disregard For Life

Amnesty urged the international community to “take concrete steps to stop the delivery and trade of arms and military equipment to Israel.”
Amnesty International yesterday responded to Israeli forces’ killing of six Palestinians within a 24-hour period by accusing Israeli authorities of demonstrating an “utter disregard for right to life”.

The international human rights group warned that “several of these incidents appear to involve deliberate and willful killing of unarmed civilians and may amount to war crimes”, and also renewed its call for an arms embargo to be imposed on Israel.

“Between 10pm on Monday 17 September and 8pm on Tuesday 18 September,” Amnesty stated, “Israeli forces killed four Palestinian men in the Gaza Strip using live ammunition. Within the same period, two more died as a result of the actions of Israeli forces in the West Bank, one after being beaten during the process of arrest and another shot dead in a busy street in East Jerusalem.”

The NGO stated:

The deaths of six Palestinians within just 24 hours is a horrific demonstration of the unnecessary or excessive force deployed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).”

“It is the fact that such crimes are rarely, if ever, punished that allows unlawful killings and other violations of the right to life to continue in shameless disregard of international law,” said Saleh Higazi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“These incidents are not new in the OPT and are likely to continue unless this cycle of impunity is broken,” he added.

In the context of Israel’s ongoing violent repression of Great March of Return protests in the occupied Gaza Strip, Amnesty International said it “has not documented any instances where protesters posed an imminent threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers and snipers, who have been located behind the fence, protected by military equipment, sand hills, drones and military vehicles.”

“Israel has a duty to immediately launch an independent, thorough and transparent investigation into each of these incidents and all other incidents which may involve the use of unnecessary or excessive force, torture and other ill-treatment against Palestinian civilians,” Higazi said.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to hold those found responsible for these grave violations to account through fair trials. Until this happens we will not see an end to Israeli forces’ random and apparently senseless killing and violence.”

The Amnesty official also urged the international community to “take concrete steps to stop the delivery and trade of arms and military equipment to Israel”, adding that “a failure to do so fuels serious human rights violations against millions of men, women and children suffering the consequences of 50 years of military occupation, including 11 years of blockade in the Gaza Strip”.

Sources: www.middleeastmonitor.com, www.mintpressnews.com

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