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Israeli forces use excessive force killing 2 Palestinian civilians at military checkpoint in the West Bank

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.