8th November 2013 | Palestinian Centre for Human Rights| Occupied Palestine
Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians at Za’tara checkpoint, south of Nablus, and the Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem, in the West Bank.
According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 6pm on Thursday, 07 November 2013, Basheer Sami Salem Habnain, 29, from Marka village south of Jenin, was traveling in a taxi from Ramallah to Nablus. When he was about 20 meters away from Za’tara intersection, south of Nablus, he stepped down from the taxi and crossed the main road towards the other side. He was carrying a box of fireworks, from which flares were unleashed. Soon, an Israeli soldier descended from a military observation tower and fired directly at Habnain, killing him with 7 bullets to the legs and thighs and an 8th one which entered the back and exited the chest.
Israeli forces kept the victim’s body until 3am on Friday, 08 November 2013, when they handed the body to the Palestinian liaison department. The victim was a lecturer at the fashion department in Palestine Technical University (Kadoorie) in Tulkarm. Israeli forces claimed that “Habnain was carrying a flare gun, from which he fired at soldiers, so the soldiers responded by firing at him, and he was instantly killed.”
A video clip published on Youtube shows an Israeli soldiers descending from an Israeli military observation tower to the southeast of Za’tara checkpoint, and then firing at the area to the southwest of the checkpoint. Another 2 soldiers are seen in the video clip coming from the checkpoint. Even according to the Israeli narrative, Israeli forces could have used less lethal means against the victim, such as arresting him.
In a similar crime, at approximately 9:30 pm, Isma’il Fu’ad Refa’ei al-Atrash, 25, and his brother Anas, 23, arrived at the Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem, traveling from Jericho to their home in Hebron. They were traveling in a civilian car driven by Isma’il. When they arrived the checkpoint, Isma’il slowed down to cross road bumps. Anas opened the door, and once he stepped down, Israeli soldiers shot him dead with 2 bullets to the chest.
Israeli soldiers took Anas’ body and put it in a plastic sac near the checkpoint. Residents of the area and a number of members of the victim’s family arrived at the checkpoint and skirmishes erupted between them and Israeli soldiers. Later, the family received Anas’ body. Israeli forces claimed that “the young man attempted to stab a soldier, so the latter fired at him directly, killing him.”
PCHR’s field worker in Hebron reported that he was not able to obtain a statement from the victim’s brother who was accompanying him during the attack, because the brother is suffering from a shock. PCHR will continue to investigate this crime. PCHR is deeply concerned over these crimes, which further prove the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians in disregard for the civilians lives.
Therefore, PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate and effective actions to put an end to such crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation 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.