Israel using ‘wanton force’ at Jerusalem protests: Amnesty
The rights organisation issued a press release on Monday in reaction to the ongoing crises in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
It said witness accounts and photographic evidence gathered by Amnesty indicated Israeli authorities have launched "violent raids on Al-Aqsa" and "unprovoked attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah".
Deputy Middle East and North Africa director Saleh Higazi said the "[e]vidence… reveals a chilling pattern of Israeli forces using abusive and wanton force against largely peaceful Palestinian protesters in recent days".
He continued: "The latest violence brings into sharp focus Israel’s sustained campaign to expand illegal Israeli settlements and step up forced evictions of Palestinian residents – such as those in Sheikh Jarrah – to make way for Israeli settlers."
Hijazi said the planned expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Israeli settlers "flagrantly violate international war and would amount to war crimes".
Read more: Fighting Israel's erasure of Palestinian identity in Jerusalem
Amnesty said its researchers saw Israeli authorities baselessly initiate violence against peaceful protesters in Sheikh Jarrah on 9 May.
Horses were used to separate them, with one limping man saying he was trampled as he attempted to escape.
They were then pushed and struck by Israeli security.
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Later, at approximately 10pm, skunk water canons and sound grenades were unleashed on protesters without justification.
Osama Dweik, who was arrested on 6 May in Sheikh Jarrah, said he saw four other Palestinians detained at the police station being assaulted, including with batons.
Amnesty cited a Palestinian journalist at Al-Aqsa Mosque on 7 May as Israel launched concussion grenades at worshippers.
He told the London-based NGO: "I've been covering events taking place in Jerusalem for the past 10 years… and I've never been this scared in my life.
"Everyone was a target, I want to say that the shooting was random, but that would be a lie.
"They knew exactly who and where they were aiming their bullets and grenades at."
He explained that most of those shot were hit in the upper body - in the face, including eyes, and chest.
The journalist was himself shot in the back as he held his camera up while trying to depart from the scene.
On 10 May, when over 300 Palestinians were wounded there in an Israeli raid, witnesses reported Israeli authorities smashed windows and launched tear gas and stun grenades at the third-holiest site in Islam.
The NGO has demanded the international community hold Israel responsible for its crimes under international law.
Higazi said: "Israel must not be allowed to continue its rampage against Palestinians who are simply defending their right to exist and protesting against their forced displacement."
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