Beit Jala: Extra-Judicial Execution

Israeli troops yesterday (October 13) extra-judicially assassinated Mohammad Abayat (27) in Beit Jala, booby-trapping a public phone close to the Beit Jala hospital.

According to LAW’s investigations, the explosion occurred at 8:10pm while Abayat was making a phone call. The explosion from the booby-trapped public phone at the entrance of Beit Jala Hospital killed Abayat instantly. The village of Beit Jala is close to Bethlehem in the southern West Bank.

According to eyewitnesses’ accounts, an Israeli helicopter gunship was hovering over the area when the explosion took place. The explosion was heard from miles away.

According to LAW’s documentation, Abayat had brought his mother to hospital for medical care on Sunday evening.

The Israeli Arabic language news bulletin announced Israeli army’s involvement in the incident at 8:30 PM on the same day.

According to LAW’s findings, at least 166 Palestinians have so far been killed in extra-judicial executions committed by Israel, including 63 Palestinian bystanders. LAW emphasizes that extra-judicial executions constitute willful killings, which are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and as such constitute war crimes subject to universal jurisdiction.

Moreover the site of the extra-judicial execution warrants grave concern. Booby-trapping a public phone, particularly near a hospital, shows a wanton disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, particularly the sick, elderly and injured. The circumstances under which this, and most extra-judicial executions are carried out, suggest complete disregard for the risk involved to the lives of bystanders.

Extra-judicial killings cannot be reconciled with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which seek to protect the lives of protected persons, and violate human rights norms that affirm the right to life and the prohibition on execution of civilians.

LAW strongly condemns Israel’s assassination policy. Israel is legally responsible for the acts of its agents, and is under corresponding obligations to ensure that its agents adhere to the Convention and to prosecute those agents who commit grave breaches.

All state signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention have also the right and are under a positive obligation to seek out and prosecute individuals responsible for committing or commissioning grave breaches, wherever the perpetrators are. Article 148 of the Fourth Geneva states that ‘no High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by any other
High Contracting Party…’

Israel’s ongoing human rights violations further illustrates the need for the immediate deployment of an international protection presence to prevent violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and to protect Palestinian protected persons within the Occupied Palestinian Territories.