On Sunday evening, 23 April 2006, Israeli armed forces extra-judicially executed two members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, in Bethlehem. Israeli forces also wounded and arrested a third member. Israel later claimed that one of the victims had died from his wounds following his evacuation to Hadasa Hospital in Jerusalem, but investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights refute this claim and prove that IOF executed the victim after his arrest. This latest attack comes after decisions taken by the Israeli political and military establishment to continue to target Palestinian activists.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 17:30 on Sunday, 23 April 2006, an Israeli undercover unit moved into Bethlehem using two civilian vehicles with Israeli license plates. Israeli soldiers took position at roadsides near Bethlehem Mental Hospital in the west of the town. A Palestinian civilian car (a blue Honda) arrived at the area on its way from the central vegetable market. The driver was Ahmed Mohammed ‘Ali Musleh, 28, from al-Duhaisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem.
Daniel Saba George Abu Hamama, 25, from Bethlehem, was sitting in the front seat beside the driver, and ‘Arafat Mahmoud Abu Sha’ira, 22, from al-‘Azza refugee camp north of Bethlehem, was sitting in the back seat.
Immediately, Israeli soldiers opened fire at the car from a range of less than 10 meters. The car collided with the wall of the hospital, as the driver had been instantly killed by several bullets.
Soon after, 15 IOF jeeps arrived at the area. IOF opened fire at the Palestinian civilian car from a range of one meter. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli soldiers pulled Abu Hamama and Abu Sha’ira out of the car. A number of Israeli soldiers pulled Abu Hamama, who was wounded in the thigh, on the ground towards a used furniture shop, nearly 100 meters away from the car. Abu Hamama screamed with pain as he was dragged. Other Israeli soldiers took Abu Sha’ira a few meters away and violently beat him.
A few minutes later, an IOF officer shot Abu Hamama dead with two live bullets to the chest and the back. IOF also arrested Abu Sha’ira, who was wounded in the foot. According to eyewitnesses, two workers in the furniture shop were in the store, when IOF executed Abu Hamama. (PCHR’s field worker has unable to meet with them yet, as they do not live in Bethlehem.) The three targeted persons were allegedly wanted by IOF for being members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah.
PCHR strongly condemns this latest extrajudicial execution and is gravely concerned over the escalation of Israeli attacks in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). PCHR asserts that such crimes serve to aggravate tension in the region and threaten the lives of Palestinians. PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop such crimes and reiterates its calls for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to meet their obligations to ensure protection for Palestinian civilians in the OPT.