Human Rights Watch has voiced its deep concerns over the increasing number of senior Israeli officials encouraging forces to kill Palestinians even when they are not a threat.
The internationally-recognized rights group released a report on Monday documenting numerous statements by Israeli officials calling on police and military to use lethal force since October 2015.
“It’s not just about potentially rogue soldiers, but also about senior Israeli officials who publicly tell forces to unlawfully shoot to kill,” said Sari Bashi, the the Israel/Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
“Whatever the results of trials of individual soldiers, Israel should issue clear directives to use force only in accordance with international law,” she added.
The report noted that since October 2015, there has been over 150 confirmed instances of Israeli forces lethally shooting Palestinian children and adults allegedly suspected of trying to attack Israelis, while other reports put the toll close to 300.
In one incident when police shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian, East Jerusalem al-Quds police commander Moshe Edri hailed the officers involved.
In another case documented in the report, a high ranking Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, used religious interpretation to promote the shoot-to-kill policy.
“‘Whoever comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.’ … let them afterward take you to the High Court of Justice or bring some military chief of staff who will say something else … As soon as an attacker knows that if he comes with a knife, he won’t return alive, it will deter them. That’s why it’s a religious commandment to kill him,” he said.
Amnesty International, the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq, and several other human rights groups have also called on Israeli officials to stop promoting the use of unnecessary lethal force.
The occupied territories have witnessed tensions ever since Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.
The restrictions have enraged Palestinians, who are also angry at increasing violence by Israeli settlers frequently storming the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Palestinians say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the compound. Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.