Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti says Defense Minister Barak, soldiers responsible for critical injury of mentally ill Palestinian in West Bank village should be tried by International Criminal Court in Hague. Rights groups urge attorney general, judge advocate general to launch investigation into incident
By Ali Waked
To view original article, published by Ynet on the 1st September, click here
Left-wing organizations have called for a military investigation into the critical injury of a mentally ill Palestinian by rubber-coated steel bullets fired at him in the West Bank village of Naalin on Monday.
The organizations appealed to Judge Advocate General Avihai Mandelblit and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and urged them to probe the matter.
Many neighbors flocked Monday to the Srur family home following the injury of one of its sons, Ayed Awad.
Abu Mahmoud, one of the neighbors who witnessed the incident, told Ynet what he saw.
“The infantry force which raided the house came from between the olive trees. Shortly before 3 am, they entered the Srur family home, located at the end of the village. The soldiers wanted to go up to the second floor to arrest Ayed’s brother, Aked, but Ayed told them to wait until the women evacuate themselves to a hidden place.
“The troops began pushing Ayed, dropping him and yelling at him. Ayed’s son, Muhammad, asked them to be patient with his father, explaining that he is ill, but these pleas did no good.
“The soldiers shoved Ayed once and again, until he and his entire family members – including his blind daughter who couldn’t stop crying – were all put in a room. They went up, took Aked and dragged him down the stairs.”
According to Abu-Mahmoud, when the soldiers left, Ayed stood at the entrance to the house and yelled at them, “Leave my brother, leave my brother.”
At that moment, he claimed, one of the soldiers turned around and shot a number of bullets at him from a distance of about 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).
“I quickly entered my house, while hearing the shots accompanied by shock grenades and the voices of women crying,” he added. “I then went to the neighbors’ house and knocked on the door. The soldiers shouted from the inside, ‘Army, army, go away.’ But they eventually opened the door. I saw Ayed dying there, and the house was filled with blood. The soldiers didn’t even come to his aid.”
Kassem, the oldest Srur brother, told Ynet that his injured brother can’t even talk.
“He stutters badly, and all he asked was that the soldiers wait before breaking into the house and rooms because there were people inside,” he said. “At first the troops shoved and dropped him, but he continued to say to them, ‘Wait, wait.’ They must have thought that he was irritated with them, so they decided to silence him.”
The IDF stated earlier that the injured man was shot while attempting to snatch a weapon from one of the soldiers, who responded by firing one bullet in self defense. The army added that the brother then closed himself in a room and refused to receive medical treatment.
‘No justification for shooting unarmed man’
The Naalin incident sparked a row in the Palestinian Authority. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a parliament member, said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the IDF soldiers who took part in the incident should be tried by the The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Barghouti condemned what he defined as “the international community’s silence in light of the ongoing Israeli crimes,” claiming that “Israel’s brutal policy is aimed at breaking the non-violent popular protest model implemented in Naalin, Bilin and other places where Israel operates with unrestrained violence.”
The Yesh Din human rights organization called on the judge advocate general to instruct the army to launch an immediate investigation into the shooting incident.
“There cannot be any justification for shooting a bullet at the head of an unarmed man during an arrest attempt,” said the organization’s research director, Lior Yavne.
“Unfortunately, the Military Prosecution’s policy, which prevents the launching of probes into shooting incidents, conveys a message to IDF soldiers in the territory that they can shoot first and will usually not be questioned later.”
’21 killed by rubber bullets’
The B’Tselem human rights group appealed to Attorney General Mazuz and urged him to work to “stop the illegal shooting” and instruct the army to prosecute soldiers and police officers who have violated open-fire orders to the full extent of the law, as well as the commanders who allow the shooting.
According to B’Tselem, an initial investigation into the Monday morning’s incident revealed that two bullets had infiltrated Srur’s skull and a third one hit him in the chest.
“The security forces have adopted a practice of lawless shooting of rubber-coated steel bullets in the West Bank, which has led to the death of two Palestinians since the beginning of the year, and to the injury of numerous people.
“Since the start of the second intifada, 21 Palestinians have been killed by the firing of such bullets, which are supposed to be nonlethal,” a group official said.
The organization said it decided to approach Mazuz following a wave of similar incidents which have taken place recently.
“The repetition of these incidents raises a heavy suspicion that soldiers and Border Guard officers are systematically violating the open-fire orders for the use of rubber-coated steel bullets, sometimes with the knowledge and consent of officers.”
B’Tselem’s letter to the attorney general included a list of 19 incidents documented by the organization’s investigators, in which they claim soldiers and police officers fired rubber bullets from very close ranges, causing them to be fatal. The organization also said it had documentations of incidents in which children were shot at and incident in which soldiers fired at Palestinians in order to deliberately cause injuries or punish them.