Indiscriminate and Excessive Use of Force: Four Palestinians Killed During Arrest Raid

24 May 2006 - Al-Haq will be preparing a detailed report of the events described below once a complete investigation has been carried out. The information contained in this press release is based on first hand testimony gathered by Al-Haq fieldworkers in the immediate aftermath of the event.

At approximately 14:30 this afternoon, 24 May 2006, an elite Israeli unit entered a commercial building in central Ramallah to arrest an Islamic Jihad leader. A crowd gathered outside the building and began to throw stones, while the vehicle transporting the elite unit was taken from the scene and burnt. Although precise details of the incident are currently difficult to obtain, it appears that around ten minutes later a number of Israeli military jeeps arrived and immediately opened indiscriminate fire towards the stone throwing Palestinians. Additional military jeeps arrived in the area some minutes later. By the time the lsraeli forces left, the confrontations had resulted in the death of four Palestinians and over 30 injured. Many Palestinians were injured, and potentially killed, prior to the arrival of Palestinian gunmen. The majority of the injuries were sustained to the upper body areas.

The conduct of the raid by the Israeli Occupying Forces raises serious concern as to the safety and security of Palestinian civilians. Not only was the operation carried out at 14:30 in the afternoon, half an hour after schools finish and one of the busiest times of day, it also occurred in the crowded commercial centre of Ramallah, increasing the number of innocent civilians put at risk of injury or death. The timing and location of the raid reveal a total disregard for the safety of the Palestinian civilian population. Further, it is apparent that the Israeli forces used indiscriminate and excessive force during the raid. Responding to stone throwing with lethal force, and aiming for the upper body, displays a flagrant disregard for Palestinian lives. Of the four Palestinians killed, three were civilians and one a member of the Palestinian security services.

Al-Haq was established in 1979 by a group of Palestinian lawyers following extended debate over how best to address the lack of human rights protection mechanisms in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Founded as Law in the Service of Man, Al-Haq was one of the first human rights organisations established in the Arab world.

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