When we think of crimes against humanity, we must be aware that governments and governmental groups can be more dangerous than individuals in this regard. Governments have the most power to inflict harm and are most likely to be recidivist. This kind of terrorism is the most dangerous brand. Extra-judicial killing or physical liquidation is the most prevalent practice of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against the Palestinians. It reveals the immoral nature of the Israeli government. Extra-judicial execution is a policy which is not new or exclusively used since 2000. It is an old, bloody policy that had been implemented by the Israeli army against Palestinian civilians for decades. The list of the victims of this practice is too long to mention here.
Extra-judicial executions “targeted killing” (as Israeli politicians like to define the practice), is clear evidence of state terrorism. It is execution without trial. It is a policy of killing outside the boundaries of any legal framework. The practice gained unprecedented momentum during the last Intifada, beginning in 2000 and experienced an ongoing escalation until it peaked in 2007. Moreover, these crimes closely follow geopolitical developments. The Israeli government has built its policy of extra-judicial executions on a specific understanding of the political situation. Indeed, they have clear political objectives by conducting these cruel crimes of extra-judicial killing—objectives based on having no Palestinian partner for peace. It means they have hidden objectives not as they claim combating Palestinian terror. They are trying to exploit the general international atmosphere of combating terrorism and depict the Palestinian activists as terrorists. These crimes are questioning the morality and judicial system of the State of Israel. The killing of civilians, and those who are involved with the Palestinian resistance, without trial is amoral and an affront to any just legal system. Sadly, these crimes have been openly endorsed by many Israeli leaders. On June 4, 2001, Israeli daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, published a statement from the IOF’s spokesman: “We set up a list of Palestinian names of individuals whom the Israeli government has approved for physical liquidation, among the names are included members of Hamas, Fatah, Popular Front and Islamic Jihad activists.” This statement reflects the bloody nature and the discriminatory mentality of Israeli officers and leadership.
Between the eruption of the second Palestinian Intifada on 28 September, 2000 and June 2006, the IOF attempted 252 extra-judicial killing operations. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), the IOF killed 603 Palestinians during these crimes. Statistically, the victims of this policy constitute 20% of the entire Intifada’s Palestinian fatalities. They are classified as follows:
· Extra-judicial killings produced 603 victims total.
· 319 of the victims were intentionally targeted by the IOF.
· 212 were civilians and passersby unintentionally killed in the process. They constitute 35% of all victims.
· 68 children were among the victims. Presumably, they were also unintentionally killed during the execution of these crimes, whether they were playing in the streets, passing by, or with their families in targeted houses or vehicles.
However, These cases were escalated to bring the overall number of people killed by such actions to 664 since December 2000, to June 2007, 434 of these people were specifically targeted by (IOF), the other 230 having been killed in the process of the attacks.
It worthy to recount some recent Israeli attempts of extra-judicial killing crimes against Palestinian inhabitants in the OPT to demonstrate the IOF’s disregard for Palestinian civilian lives:
At approximately 21.25 on Sunday, 20 May 2007, an IOF warplane lunched guided missiles at a residential compound belonging to al-Haya family in al–Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. The targeted missiles hit the al-Haya tribe’s hall, killing seven members of a single family. Two children were among those murderd. The hall is adjacent to Dr. Khalil Isma’il al-Haya, a member of PLC and important Hamas figure. At the time of the attack, Dr. al-Haya was not at home. He was in a meeting with Fatah leaders trying to reach an agreement to end the Palestinian crisis.
Israel’s stubborn insistence to continue this policy of killing and to continue intimidating Palestinian civilians in this way is a grave violation to the international human rights law. The international community regularly expresses deep concerns over this policy. Prof. John Dugard, the United Nations special Rapporteur of Human Rights sharply criticizes the Israeli government for its actions in the POT. He regards the Israeli practices against the Palestinian as grave violations to article 27 and 38 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relevant to the protection of civilians at a time of war. According to the Human Rights Bill, and international humanitarian law, the Palestinians are entitled to significant rights aimed at protecting them from the unnecessary bloodshed committed daily by IOF. Among the rights applicable to the Palestinians, are those listed in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and therefore they include the right to life, security and property.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “[e]very one has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Article 6 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 states that “[e]very human being has the inherent right to life”.
The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War is particularly relevant to extra-judicial killing. Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits any kind of assaults on life or physical security. Article 32 specifically prohibits murder, torture and corporal punishment.
PCHR is deeply concerned over the Israeli government’s crimes of extra-judicial killing in the OPT, and:
· Condemns these crimes of extra-judicial killing by the IOF in the OPT, which disregards for the lives of Palestinian civilians, and considers them grave violations of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
· Condemns the IOF’s disregard for civilians’ lives and careless lack of attention to the principles of necessity and proportionality in using excessive force against Palestinian activists, many of whom are often present in densely populated areas.
· Call upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop these crimes which contradict international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
Call upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under article 1 of the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under article 146 to search for and prosecute those responsible for committing grave breaches of the Convention. PCHR also calls on the High Contracting Parties to uphold their responsibilities as signatories to the protocol Additional to the Convention, such as breaches which constitute war crimes according to article 147 of the convention.
"This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication is the sole responsibility of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union."