[JURIST] Israel has occupied the West Bank through human rights abuses for the past fifty-years, stated [report] Human Rights Watch (HRW)(advocacy website) Sunday. According to HRW, Israel has violated international humanitarian law during the occupation through "unlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians." Israel claims that the human rights abuses were committed to ensure Israeli security as a response to Palestinian armed groups carrying out lethal attacks against civilians. Sarah Leah Whitson [official bio], Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said
“Whether it’s a child imprisoned by a military court or shot unjustifiably, or a house demolished for lack of an elusive permit, or checkpoints where only settlers are allowed to pass, few Palestinians have escaped serious rights abuses during this 50-year occupation…Israel today maintains an entrenched system of institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied territory-repression that extends far beyond any security rationale.”According to Whitson, Israeli troops have killed over 2,000 Palestinian civilians in the course of the last three Gaza conflicts while armed Palestinian groups have killed [B'Tselem] at least 1,079 Israeli civilians between December 1987 and February 2017. HRW called on the international community to take measure to hold the Israeli and Palestinian authorities responsible for their human rights abuses and for the International Criminal Court [official website] to open a formal investigation into the international crimes being committed on both sides.
While Israel and Palestine have a troubled past, the issue of settlements in the West Bank has escalated tensions in the last decade. In April the UN said [JURIST report] it was disappointed with the Israel settlement decision. In November Israel's Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved [JURIST report] the Formalization Bill to legalize the West Bank outposts. In March 2016 the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said [JURIST report] that the office is concerned about the apparent extra-judicial execution of a Palestinian man in the West Bank. In January of that same year Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged [JURIST report] businesses to cease operations in Israel settlements. In August 2015 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] both sides of the conflict to reconcile and move towards peace after an attack occurred in the West Bank village of Duma, where Jewish extremists allegedly set fire to a Palestinian home while a family slept inside.