Netanyahu gives Israelis ‘green light to shoot Palestinians’ | Israel-Palestine conflict News

There are fears of an increase in violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem due to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to make it easier for Israelis to obtain firearms.

On Saturday, Netanyahu said he would expedite gun permits for Israeli citizens and step up efforts to collect “illegal guns.”

His office also promised new steps to “fortify” illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The announcements came after a meeting of Netanyahu’s security cabinet – filled with hardline politicians – over two shootings, including an attack in occupied East Jerusalem.

Seven people were killed in a shooting at a synagogue in East Jerusalem on Friday.

The shootings came at the end of a month of growing confrontation and followed an Israeli raid on the occupied West Bank town of Jenin that left nine Palestinians dead and gun battles between Israel and Gaza. In total, Israeli forces have killed 32 Palestinians this month.

The new Israeli government, inaugurated last month, is the most right-wing in the country’s history and has sparked fear among Palestinians living under illegal Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and in Israel itself, as well as among left-wing Israelis.

The new government includes National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, both outspoken about their intention to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and annex Palestinian land, and notorious for inciting to violence against Palestinians.

Both are settlers living deep in the occupied West Bank.

“You have the Minister of National Security who has made it very clear that he believes in killing Palestinians, you have a Minister of Finance who has made it clear that [Palestinians] are here only temporarily,” Haifa-based analyst Diana Buttu told Al Jazeera.

“And you also have a prime minister who makes it clear that people must be armed and that they are not going to do anything to stop the killing of Palestinians. You can see that the recipe is that more and more Palestinians will be killed.”

More than 200 Palestinians were killed in 2022, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Health Ministry. According to the United Nations, this was the deadliest year for Palestinians in 16 years.

Among the dead was Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. While reporting, she was shot dead by Israeli forces in May with a bullet to the head during a military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Last month, Al Jazeera Media Network filed a formal request with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute those responsible.

“In none of those cases [of killed Palestinians] — not one — was an investigation opened that led to charges, not even in the case of Shireen, probably the most investigated murder we’ve ever seen,” Buttu said, adding that in more than 90 percent of the attacks that settlers against Palestinians, “the police do nothing, the army does nothing, they just close the file, no charges are brought.”

Al Jazeera diplomatic editor James Bays, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said Netanyahu’s plans to approve more gun permits for Israeli citizens come as Israeli police also encouraged those with existing permits to carry their guns.

“While Netanyahu urges Israelis not to take the law into their own hands, he is also putting more weapons in those same hands,” said Bays, who went on to describe the measures as “collective punishment” and “a clear violation of human rights.” rights”. rights”.

Yara Hawari, senior policy officer at think tank Shabaka, told Al Jazeera that the announcement is “a worrying escalation that will undoubtedly lead to more attacks and more extrajudicial killings of Palestinians.”

“With this move, Netanyahu gives the green light for all Israelis to commit violence against Palestinians with impunity,” Hawari said.

Buttu added that Israel is already “armed to the teeth” and that “shooting at Palestinians is common.”

“It is not at all uncommon to see Israeli settlers walking around with not only small arms but also assault rifles,” Buttu said. “It is quite common, be it in the mall, on the bus, on the train or in religious places, to see people carrying guns.

“The problem here is that it’s not just a matter of arming people. It is that this administration has always given Israelis the green light to go ahead and shoot Palestinians,” whether at the police or military level, she said.

As part of the punitive measures against Palestinians, Netanyahu also said that the homes of suspected attackers will be sealed prior to demolition “to exact an additional price from those who support terrorism.”

His office said Social Security benefits for the attackers’ families will also be cancelled.

Buttu said the government is “trying not only to arm people, but also to enforce punitive measures not only against individuals, but also against their families”.

“Now it is also moving forward, by trying to deprive them of their citizenship, trying to deprive them of all national rights.”

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