Number of Israeli-Palestinian fatalities dropped in 2007, says report
But the situation in Gaza worsened and intra-Palestinian killings reached a record high, the human rights report adds.
According to a new Israeli human rights report, 2007 saw the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces decrease to nearly half of those killed in 2006, but those killed in intra-Palestinian fighting reached a record high.Skip to next paragraph
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The report, published by the human rights group B'Tselem, says that 373 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces through Dec. 29, 2007, a 43 percent drop from 2006, when Israeli forces killed 657 people. The report also says that of those Palestinians killed in 2007, 35 percent were civilians not involved in hostilities – also a drop from 2006, when 54 percent of Palestinians killed were civilian bystanders.
In addition, the report says that only seven Israeli civilians were killed in 2007, the lowest Israeli civilian fatality rate since the beginning of the intifada. In 2006, 17 Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians.
But the B'Tselem report adds that there were a number of setbacks as well in 2007. The number of Palestinians killed in internal violence, at least 343, was the highest ever during the intifada, due to the fighting between Hamas and Fatah. Also, 2007 saw an increase of 13 percent in the number of Palestinians held by Israel in administrative detention without trial, and the number of permanent checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank remained largely unchanged.
B'Tselem, which "endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel," writes that the 2007 report reveals two themes.
The first is the use of security justifications for virtually every Israeli action in the Occupied Territories. There is no doubt that Israel faces serious security threats, and is entitled and even obligated to do its utmost to protect its population. However, far too often, Israel fails to appropriately balance its security needs with equally important values, including protecting the rights of Palestinians under its control. In addition, Israeli authorities often exploit security threats in order to advance prohibited political interests, such as perpetuating settlements and effectively annexing them to Israel.
The second theme arising from the report is the lack of accountability of Israeli security forces, in all matters relating to human rights. This can be seen clearly in the reluctance of the state to thoroughly investigate violations and to prosecute those responsible for them. The lack of accountability can also be seen in the denial of most Palestinians' right to compensation when they are injured through no fault of their own by Israeli forces.
Agence France-Presse reports that a spokesman for the Israeli army declined to immediately comment on the report's findings, saying the army had not yet received a copy.