Published on Friday, December 22, 2000 in the Times of London
Shoot-To-Kill Policy is Exposed in Israel
by Sam Kiley in Jerusalem
THE Israeli military establishment operates a shoot-to-kill policy against Palestinian guerrillas, an army intelligence general said yesterday.
The admission embarrassed the armed forces, and officials were quick to distance themselves from the radio statement made by the unnamed general. The officer said the forces were hunting down and killing “known terrorists”. The preferred method in carrying out the extra-judicial killings, he said, was through sniping.
In the past month more than a dozen Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops and policemen employing sophisticated techniques. These have included a booby-trapped mobile telephone and a bomb planted in the headrest of a car driven by a member of an Islamic guerrilla group.
At least another four civilians were also killed in what the Israeli army calls “pro-active operations”.
Two of them, middle-aged women, were blown up by a rocket fired from a helicopter in Bethlehem. Overall, about 340 Palestinians, many of them children, have died since the outbreak of violence three months ago.
Israel has made no secret of the assaults and has been quick to publicise operations once they have been carried out. The attacks have also sown fear among armed Palestinian activists, who have complained to Yassir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority that they need protection, sources in the governing body said.
Military officials refused to discuss the general’s statement yesterday. Officials, however, confirmed Israel’s policy of killing its most dangerous enemies. One military spokesman said: “We have a policy of attacking those who have attacked our military or our civilians. There is no secret about that. We have been doing it for years. We don’t wait for them to attack us again.”
The general’s disclosure came hours before the death of two Palestinians in Gaza yesterday. Rashid Barhoun, 26, a member of Hamas, was shot in the back while fleeing from a gunbattle with Israeli troops at the Rafah crossing into Egypt. Ahed Mreish, 18, was killed near Karni, where there was no fighting. An Israeli military spokesman denied any involvement in his death.
An Israeli was shot dead yesterday by a Palestinian north of Jerusalem in the West Bank. The victim, whose identity was not given, died when the Palestinian opened fire from a vehicle that passed him on a busy road linking Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. With killings continuing unabated in the occupied territories, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators were upbeat yesterday after three days of talks in Washington.
“We are close to achieving recognition of Palestinian sovereignty over Arab East Jerusalem, including the holy sites,” Yassir Abed Rabbo, chief Palestinian envoy in the talks at Bolling Air Force Base near Washington, said.
Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Israeli Foreign Minister, described the talks as productive and said that there could be an agreement if they continued in the same positive spirit.
President Clinton has set a deadline of January 10, ten days before he leaves office, for both sides to strike a deal that could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Israel’s left-wing Meretz party voted not to back Shimon Peres’s candidacy for Prime Minister in the February 6 election, destroying his chances. Mr Peres, 77, architect of Israel’s seven-year-old peace drive with the Palestinians, said he would not oppose the decision: “That is the result and that is that. I will continue to work towards peace.
Copyright 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.