There can be no justification for a spate of deliberate deadly attacks by Palestinians on civilians over the past week in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories which displayed a clear contempt for human life, said Amnesty International.
In the latest attacks on Thursday, Palestinians from the occupied West Bank killed five civilians: three Israelis, a US national and a Palestinian, in two separate incidents.
“As tensions continue to skyrocket we have seen a string of reprehensible attacks by Palestinians on Israeli civilians over the past week in which the assailants appear to have sought to kill individuals they presumed to be Israeli Jews,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“Deliberately attacking civilians is contrary to one of the most fundamental principles of international law and can never be justified. Both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities must ensure they take measures, in line with their obligations under international human rights law, to protect the right to life and to bring to justice in fair trials those responsible for such attacks. Israel must also end practices such as house demolition which collectively punish the wider Palestinian population.”
Amnesty International has also documented a pattern of unlawful killings, including extrajudicial executions, by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians and a series of attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian civilians and homes over the past two months.
In Tel Aviv on Thursday, a Palestinian stabbed and killed two civilians at the entrance to a synagogue in the south of the city. Reports said that midday prayers were taking place at the time, and that the attacker had attempted to enter the synagogue but had been prevented by worshippers. The attacker was arrested by Israeli forces.
In a separate incident on the same day in which three civilians were killed, a Palestinian shot at an Israeli bus before ramming his car into another car near the illegal settlement bloc of Gush Etzion in the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces arrested the attacker.
The Israelis killed were named as Reuven Aviram, 51, Aharon Yeseaev, 32 and Rabbi Yakov Don, 49. The US national was named as Ezra Schwarz, 18, and the Palestinian as Shadi Arfa, 24.
A week ago on Friday 13 November, a Palestinian shot and killed two Israeli civilians as they drove along a road in the south of the occupied West Bank. A suspect in the killing has been arrested by Israeli forces.
Over the past week five Palestinians have also been killed by Israeli forces. Two were reported to have been shot during protests, and three others were shot during armed clashes with the Israeli army. Two other Palestinians died of wounds they sustained after being shot by Israeli forces during protests on 11 and 12 November. Israeli forces have a history of using unjustified or excessive force against Palestinian protesters. Palestinians have frequently been unlawfully killed when they posed no direct threat to life.