In two separate crimes of excessive use of lethal force, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians. The first one, who was suffering from speech disorder, was killed while participating in a peaceful demonstration organized in the center of Hebron. The second one was killed while confronting a group of Israeli settlers, who attacked the outskirts of ‘Ourif village, south of Nablus, under the Israeli forces’ protection. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns these two new crimes and holds the Israeli government responsible for the tense atmosphere in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), which is accompanied with Israeli settlers’ escalating attacks against Palestinian civilians, particularly in the southern areas of Nablus.
According to PCHR’s investigations regarding the first crime, following the Friday prayer on 09 March 2018, dozens of Palestinian young men gathered in Bab al-Zawiyia area in the center of Hebron. The protesters threw stones at a military checkpoint established at the entrance to the closed Shuhada Street known as al-Container Checkpoint (56). Meanwhile, a number of Israeli soldiers deployed in the area and then fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at stone-throwers. The Israeli forces also chased the protesters between shops in Abu al-Humus area. After that, the protesters retreated, while the Israeli soldiers raided a garage belonging to ‘Abed al-Jabbar and then they stationed behind the walls of Khadija ‘Abdeen School. In the meantime, the protesters throw Molotov cocktails at the Israeli soldiers from long distance. The Israeli soldiers stationed about 200 meters away from the area heavily fired live bullets at the protestors who were on Abu al-Humus Street. As a result, Mohammed Zain Fazza’ al-Ja’bari (24), who is suffering from speech disorder, was hit with a live bullet to the right side of his chest. Mohammed was then taken via a car to the Hebron Governmental Hospital, which is 300 meters away from the scene. At approximately 15:40 on the same day, doctors announced Mohammed’s death.
According to PCHR’s investigation regarding the second crime, at approximately 18:00 on Saturday, 10 March 2018, a group of Israeli settlers from “Yitzhar” settlement established in the northern side of ‘Ourif village, south of Nablus, accompanied with 3 Israeli soldiers moved into the northern outskirts of the village. The settlers stationed in the vicinity of a water tank that provides water to the village in al-al-Safafir area. A number of Palestinian civilians then gathered and threw stones at the settlers, and Israeli soldiers. The soldiers immediately fired live and rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the civilians, who were hiding behind the water tank. The clashes continued for half an hour. After that, the settlers, who were carrying batons and slingshot, moved about 100 meters away from the water tank while the Israeli soldiers stayed in the vicinity of the tank. Two soldiers then lay on the ground and took the sniping position while the third stayed standing. As soon as the soldiers saw ‘Omeir Omer ‘Amir Shehadah (20) and Hamam Mohammed Mefleh Safadi (14) appearing from behind the water tank, they fired 2 live bullets at them. As a result, Shehadah was hit with a live bullet to the left shoulder that entered the chest and settled in the heart causing his death. Moreover, the Safadi child was hit with a live bullet to the left thigh. He was transferred by a civilian car to Dr. ‘Atef Hafeth ‘Amer’s Clinic in the center of ‘Ourif village. After the doctor offered him first aid, the child was transferred to An-Najah National University Hospital in Nablus. Dr. ‘Amer said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the bullet cut the main artery in the thigh and existed from the bone and the child’s injury was fatal, but thank God.
PCHR condemns these two new crimes and is concerned over the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians participating in peaceful protests, violating the international humanitarian law standards. PCHR is also concerned over the protection provided by the Israeli forces to settlers, who attack innocent Palestinian civilian in their homes.
PCHR calls upon the international community and UN bodies to stop the Israeli escalating crimes and violations and work on providing international protection for Palestinians in the oPt. PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.