In a new crime of excessive use of force, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) shot dead a Palestinian civilian who was in front of his house in al-‘Aroub Refugee Camp, north of Hebron, on Monday, 11 November 2019. PCHR’s investigations emphasize that the shooting violated the principle of necessity and distinction, stressing that the force used was unjustifiable, especially that the Palestinian civilian was clearly seen by the soldiers and did not pose any threat to their lives.
According to PCHR investigations and eyewitnesses’ accounts, at approximately 09:00 that day, school students organized a peaceful protest in al-‘Aroub refugee camp to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the death of late Palestinian President Yasser ‘Arafat. The protesters marched the camp streets while a number of students approached the western entrance to the camp that leads to Bypass Road (60). The students threw stones at the Israeli military watchtower next to the entrance; Israeli soldiers responded immediately with live bullets and tear gas canisters and chased the stone-throwers and stationed themselves at several entrances to the camp. The clashes between the stone-throwers and the soldiers, who opened fire randomly, continued until 13:00. One of the Palestinian young men threw a Molotov Cocktail at the soldiers, but it hit a house belonging to al-Badawi family and caused a fire. ‘Omer Ahmed Haitham al-Badawi (22) came out of his house to put out the fire with a piece of cloth and was asked to bring water to put out the fire. As al-Badawi arrived at the entrance leading to the street, an Israeli soldier shot him from a distance of 15 meters with a bullet to the chest that exited his back. He fell on the house stairs to the street, and 2 minutes later, his family arrived after the Israeli heavy shooting stopped. His family tried to take him to the street, where there was a car to transfer him to the hospital, but the Israeli soldiers shouted at them to stop and threw a teargas canister at them. He was then taken by a civilian car to the camp clinic, from which he was taken by a Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. Doctors at the hospital declared his death due to severe bleeding.
In the evening, Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a so-called “initial military probe” into the death circumstances of al-Badawi. The probe emphasized that al-Badawi did not pose any threat to the soldiers, based on a video documenting the killing of al-Badawi as well as the questioning of Israeli soldiers who opened fire at him. IOF claimed that it was yet to be ascertained whether or not al-Badawi was involved in throwing Molotov cocktails before the shooting.
PCHR strongly condemns this crime, which is a further proof of IOF ongoing use of lethal force against Palestinian civilians even when they pose no threat to Israeli soldiers’ lives. PCHR calls upon the international community to stop IOF crimes and 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 on the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the occupied territory.