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Extra-Judicial Execution of Yahia Ayyash

Published @ 14:30 GMT / 06.1.1996

The extra-judicial killing of Yahia Ayyash on Friday 5 January 1996 was received with shock in the Occupied Territories. The killing appears to have been at the hands of Israeli Intelligence Services (Shin Bet) and violates all human rights standards, undermines the peace agreements and the peace process.

Around 8.30am on 5 January 1996 Yahia Ayyash was killed at a house located in Beit Lahia Housing Project, in northern Gaza Strip. It appears the bomb was a timed device of 50 grammes of explosive material and had been implanted in his mobile telephone. It was detonated whilst he was using it, killing him instantly.

Ayyash become notorious following the peace agreements between the PLO and the government of Israel, when he was classified as Number One on the Israeli Wanted List. The Israeli security services have linked him to a number of suicide bombings one of which involved the explosion of a bus in central Tel Aviv. As with other Palestinians sought by Israeli forces, no public information or evidence is offered as to why these people are wanted by Israel security.

The killing appears to be the work of the Israeli internal security intelligence service, Shin Bet, which has carried out numerous similar operations in the Occupied Territories. The news of the extra-judicial execution was welcomed by Israeli government officials, though, as is common with other such killings, they have refused to confirm that it is the work of Shin Bet. Further evidence of Israeli involvement is that Israeli public radio first announced the killing of Yahia Ayyash, even before all other media were aware of killing and before it was publicly known in the Gaza Strip, where he was killed.

Following the killing, the Israeli authorities imposed a total closure over the West Bank and Gaza Strip depriving Palestinians from travelling between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and into Israel.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns the assassination of the Yahia Ayyash noting that:

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      1) Extra-judicial killings are condemned in international law and by the international community. Such killings are a grave breach of human rights standards, violating the right to life. The charges against Yahia Ayyash have not been substantiated and no attempt was made to arrest or bring him to trial. This killing is a most serious act which violates the fundamental principles of human rights law.

      2) The assassination violates the peace agreements signed between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation and represents a dangerous interference with the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and the rights of Palestinians within the so-called autonomous areas. Under the agreements Israeli forces can only take action in hot pursuit of a suspected person. All other action against suspected persons must be taken by the Palestinian Authority.

      3) The Israeli security services have carried out earlier operations in the Gaza Strip which have violated human rights and the terms of the peace agreements. Three other undercover operations have been carried out since the advent of the Palestinian Authority in May 1994. On 2 November 1994 Hanny Abed was assassinated when a car he was travelling in exploded in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. On 1 April 1995 four Palestinians were assassinated in Sheikh Radwan when a bomb was exploded in the house they were in. On 22 June 1995 Mahmoud Al Khawaja was assassinated. All these operations were similar in style to the killing of Yahia Ayyash and appear to have been carried out by Israeli intelligence services.

      5) The assassination of Ayyash points to the continued activity of Israeli security forces within the autonomous areas, and the maintenance of Israeli death squads and their networks within the autonomous areas. This is in clear violation of the peace agreements and undermines the position of the Palestinian Authority and police.

      6) The assassination occurs at an extremely volatile time within the autonomous areas, tensions are high because of the election which is to be in two weeks. The assassination may have a serious impact on the election process and on the campaigns. If tensions continue to rise it may even cause to delay the date of the elections.

      7) The assassination shatters the relatively quiet atmosphere which has prevailed in the last five months in the Occupied Territories. Palestinians are extremely angry and this may help fuel opposition against the agreements and the Palestinian Authority. The assassination may even cause opposition groups to call for a renewal of suicide bombing operations against Israel. Israel must carry complete responsibility for any deterioration in the situation.

      8) The decision of Israeli authorities to impose a closure over the West Bank and Gaza Strip is an action of collective punishment against Palestinians. It is particularly serious as it has been inflicted as a result of an Israeli operation. The closure will only serve to fuel the fragile atmosphere within the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns Israel for the continuation of the actions against Palestinians. These actions are an outrage to human rights and to the efforts which have been made for peace in the region.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls for:

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      1) The international community to condemn the use of extra-judicial killings as an instrument of government policy and to pressure Israel to accept human rights standards enshrined in international law;

      2) The international community to condemn Israel’s violation of the peace agreements and to seek to ensure that it complies with the terms and spirit of the agreement;

      3) The Palestinian Authority to investigate the killing of Yahia Ayyash and to take legal action against all those involved in assisting Israel in the assassination.

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