On Monday, 23 July 2018, in new crime of excessive use of lethal force against Palestinian civilians, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded another one in al-Dahish refugee camp, south of Bethlehem. This crime and other willful killings lately committed by the Israeli forces prove that the Israeli forces deliberately aiming at dropping the highest number of victims among Palestinian civilians. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns this crime and holds the Israeli government responsible for the tense atmosphere in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). PCHR also calls upon the International Community to take its legal and moral responsibility and intervene in order to put an end to the Israeli crimes against Palestinians and provide protection for them.
According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses’ statement, at approximately 03:00 on Monday, a group of “Mista’arvim” undercover units dressed like Palestinian civilians sneaked into al-Dahish refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, to carry out an arrest mission. After that, Israeli forces backed by 8 military vehicles moved into the camp from all its entrances. The Israeli military vehicles then patrolled al-Fineeq Street and al-Salam, al-Jarishah, al-Walijah, al-Ja’afrah, al-Hawouz, and al-Dahiyah neighborhoods. The Israeli soldiers raided and topped roofs of dozens of houses and buildings, raided many shops after blowing up their doors and damaged their contents. Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian young men gathered and threw stones and Molotov Cocktails at the Israeli soldiers, who heavily fired live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at them. At approximately 14:30, the confrontations, in which live bullets were used against protesters, escalated and extended to the camp’s main entrance. As a result, Arkan Thaier Helmi Mizher (15) was hit with a live bullet that penetrated his heart and exited his back. Arkan sustained serious wounds and was then taken to al-Hussain Hospital in Beit Jalah, where his death was announced. Moreover, another civilian was hit with a live bullet to the left foot and doctors classified his wounds as moderate. On the same day morning, the Israeli forces arrested 3 civilians and then withdrew. The Israeli forces claimed that they opened an investigation into the death circumstances of the abovementioned child.
PCHR follows up with deep concern the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and is concerned over the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians participating in peaceful protests, violating the international humanitarian law standards. PCHR hereby condemns the Israeli forces’ use of excessive, disproportionate and lethal force against the protestors. 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.