In two separate crimes of killing in cold blood, the Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinian civilians in Nablus and Bethlehem and seriously wounded a fourth one in the afternoon of yesterday and the day before. Those two new crimes came in light of the escalation by the Israeli government in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Those crimes and other murders lately committed by the Israeli forces prove the latter’s intention to inflict as many Palestinian civilian casualties as possible. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns these two crimes and holds the Israeli government responsible for the tense situation in the oPt. PCHR also calls upon the international community to assume its legal and moral obligations and intervene immediately to stop the Israeli forces’ crimes against Palestinians and provide them protection.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 23:00 on Tuesday, 19 March 2019, Israeli forces moved into Nablus to protect hundreds of settlers, who were going to perform their Talmudic prayers in “Joseph Tomb” in Balata al-Balad, east of Nablus. Fifteen minutes after the incursion, an Israeli infantry force covering behind buildings and stores at the entrance to the sub-road to ‘Amman Street opened fire at a Palestinian civilian car carrying two civilians identified as Raed Hashem Mohammad Hamdan (21) and Ziad ‘Emad Mohammad al-Noury (20), both from Nablus. Following that, an Israeli military bulldozer arrived and crushed the car, turning it over several times. They then confiscated the car, and the corpses were taken to Howrah refugee camp, south of the city. Meanwhile, A Palestinian ambulance tried to reach the causalities several times, but the Israeli soldiers prevented it and even opened fired at, directly hitting its front. At approximately 05:00 on Wednesday, 20 NMarch 2019, after withdrawing from the city, the Israeli forces handed the 2 corpses to an ambulance belonging to the Palestinian Crescent Society at Howrah Checkpoint. They were both taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where it was found that Ra’ed was wounded with several bullets to the chest and shoulder and sustained laceration in his hand while Zaid was wounded with several bullets to the back and head and sustained laceration to the back of his head.
Following that, the Israeli forces claimed that a speeding car opened fire at them on Amman Street, but no causalities were reported. However, the eyewitnesses’ accounts to PCHR’s fieldworker categorically denied that the Israeli forces were subject to fire. Moreover, in an attempt to hide their crime, the Israeli forces confiscated the DVRs of the surveillance cameras in the nearby shops in the area.
According to PCHR’s investigations into the second crime and eyewitnesses’ accounts, ‘Alaa’ Mohammed Ghayathah was driving his car with his wife and two daughters, returning from a visit to his in-laws in Artass village, south of Bethlehem, to Nhaleen village, west of the city, taking al-Nashash Station Road. When he stopped for the traffic light, a car scraped the back of his car, so he got off to check what happened. A female Israeli soldier in a watchtower near the checkpoint immediately opened fire at him, wounding him with several bullets to the abdomen. Ahmed Jamal Manassra, from Foqin Valley in western Behtlehem, whose car was behind ‘Alaa’’s car, saw the incident and immediately along with young men near the checkpoint took ‘Alaa’ to al-Yamama Hospital in al-Khader village near the place. A video captured by the surveillance cameras of al-Yamamah Hospital showed Ahmed taking ‘Alaa’ to the hospital and then cleaning the backseats of his car from ‘Alaa’’s blood to go back again to al-Nashnash checkpoint. When Ahmed reached ‘Alaa’’s car to check out Alaa’s family and evacuate them from the car, the Israeli soldiers opened fire at him. As a result, Ahmed was hit with eight live bullets; six of them hit his chest, shoulder and hand, causing his death before he was taken to Beit Jala Governmental Hospital. Eyewitnesses confirmed that Ahmed seemed worried after he arrived at al-Yamama Hospital and hospitalized ‘Alaa’ as he was making phone calls. Ahmed also asked a young man beside him about the time that an ambulance would take to arrive at the checkpoint. The young man answered that it would take ten minutes. Ahmed said, “I promised the wounded man that I will bring him his wife and daughters.” It should be noted that Ahmed was from Foqin Valley village, west of Bethlehem, and held a BA from the Palestine Ahliya University.
PCHR condemns these two crimes and is concerned over the use of lethal force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians for mere suspicion of their intentions. Accordingly, 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.