3 Palestinian civilians killed by IOF in the West Bank

In the past three days, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have killed 3 Palestinians in the West Bank. Two of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF in Bethlehem, whereas the third one was killed when IOF opened fire at a civilian car that was attempting to bypass Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus.

According to investigation conducted by PCHR, at approximately 04:10 on Friday, 18 August 2006, IOF, supported by a helicopter, moved into al-‘Obaidiya village, east of Bethlehem, and imposed a curfew. They besieged a field on al-Hadadiya Mount, southeast of the village. They fired live bullets and flash bombs. IOF then opened fire and the helicopter fired a missile at two Palestinian civilians who were on the field. The two Palestinians were instantly killed:

1. Khaled Mohammed ‘Ata Shanita, 25; and
2. ‘Oqla Suleiman Mohammed Shanaita, 33.

The latter’s brother, 42-year-old Ahmed Suleiman Shanaita, told PCHR that the two victims were killed when they were nearly 600 meters away from their houses. They were hit by dozens of live bullets, and fire broke out in the field. IOF claimed that the two victims were wanted for being members of the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad. The two victims were released from Israeli jails 5 months ago.

At approximately 04:30 on Sunday, 20 August 2006, a Palestinian taxi, that transported a number of workers, was traveling on a dirt road near Nablus - Ramallah road. The taxi resorted to the dirt road as IOF closed Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus, in the face of Palestinians aged below 30. The taxi driver was surprised by the presence of IOF on the dirt road. IOF were holding two Palestinian vehicles. The driver moved back fearing that his car and the occupants would be held by IOF. Immediately, IOF opened fire at the car. As a result, 3 workers were wounded. IOF arrested one of the wounded workers. He died from his wound later. He was identified as Jalal Hussam ‘Ouda, 26, from Deir al-Hatab village east of Nablus. The other two workers were evacuated to Rafidya Hospital in Nablus. They were identified as:

1.’Esmat Qassem ‘Aamer, 29, from Kufor Qallil village, wounded by a live bullet to the right foot; and
2. Qais Hani Eshtayeh, 22, from Salem village, wounded by a live bullet to the left foot.

When Eshtayeh was wounded, he phoned his brother, 24-year-old Burhan, a taxi driver, who was waiting at Hawara checkpoint, and told him that he was wounded. Immediately, he left his car and started searching for his brother. An IOF soldier noticed him, and fired at him. He was wounded, and IOF arrested him. It is worth noting that IOF often hold Palestinian civilian vehicles and their occupants, when these vehicles resort to dirt roads to avoid congestion at military checkpoints.

PCHR is deeply concerned over such escalation by IOF, and:

1. Condemns these and other war crimes committed by IOF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.
2. Reiterates condemnation for extra-judicial executions committed by IOF against Palestinians, and asserts that such policy serves to increase tension in the region and threatens the lives of Palestinian civilians.
3. Calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop such crimes, and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to immediately intervene to fulfill their obligations to ensure protection for Palestinian civilians in the OPT).

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent legal body based in Gaza City dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, the dÚration Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. PCHR is a recipient of the 1996 French Republic Award for Human Rights.