Some 53 percent of Israelis have expressed support for the extrajudicial killings of alleged Palestinian attackers on the spot, even after their arrest and when they “no longer pose a threat”, according to a new poll.
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Published by the Israel Democracy Institute, the poll’s findings reflect hardening attitudes among Jewish Israelis at a time when unrest has spread throughout Israel, the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
The poll examined the attitudes of Israeli citizens – both Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel – as tensions and unrest soar amid growing violence.
The study was conducted over two days in late October and interviewed 600 adults.
It also found that 80 percent of Israeli interviewees believe that the family homes of alleged Palestinian attackers should be demolished.
On Sunday, a Palestinian allegedly attempted to run over a group of Israelis near an illegal Jewish settlement in northern West Bank, injuring four. He was shot dead by Israeli forces, according to an Israeli army spokesperson.
Later in the day, at least two Israelis – one of them a security guard at a West Bank settlement – were injured in stabbing incidents allegedly carried out by Palestinians.
Triggered by Israeli incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Palestinian protests against Israel’s occupation started picking up steam in September.
Israeli forces responded with force, including the use of live ammunition and other less fatal weapons.
Since October 1, Israeli troops or settlers have killed at least 77 Palestinians, among them unarmed protesters, bystanders and suspected attackers.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials announced on Sunday that a 19-year-old soldier had died of his wounds after a car ramming close to Hebron on Wednesday.
At least 10 Israelis have now been killed by Palestinians in stabbings, shooting or car-ramming incidents since the start of October.
Israeli leaders have called on security forces to shoot suspected attackers on the spot, while others have urged civilians to take up arms since the latest bout of violence.
In October, Yair Lapid, an Israeli legislator from the centre-right Yesh Atid party, said Palestinians suspected of attacking Israeli soldiers or civilians “should be shot to be killed”.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s security minister, said suspected attackers should be killed so that potential assailants “know that they will not survive the attack that they were going to carry out”.
In Jerusalem, the Israeli police commander in the city, Moshe Edri, said alleged attackers are “likely to be killed”.
Rights groups have slammed the calls for extrajudicial killings.
In a joint statement published last month, nine Israeli NGOs decried the security forces’ “shoot-to-kill” policy.
“Politicians and senior police officials are not assisting to defuse tension and calm the public,” the statement reads.
But speaking in Tel Aviv on October 8, Deputy Defence Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said civilians should “prevent” attacks by using guns against suspects.
Ben-Dahan’s call to arms came just days after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat said, “[Israeli] weapon owners who know how to use them should carry them.”
Rima Awad, a member of the Coalition for Jerusalem, a Palestinian rights group, accused Barakat and other politicians of “incitement” against Palestinians.