Israeli forces on Monday assassinated Issam Sawafteh (19), a Hamas activist from Tubas near Jenin.
In a sworn affidavit by the victim’s brother, an eyewitness to the killing, Adnan Sawafteh (29) said:
“A large amount of soldiers reinforced with APCs around 4am today [Monday] surrounded the house of my cousin, Mun‘im Sawafteh, who lives outside the country. My brother Issam was staying there, because Israeli occupation army wanted him.
The soldiers took our brother and father from their house by force, and used them like a human shield on the door of the house where Issam was hiding. Then the Israeli occupation forces after a few minutes of that, and without any warning, began to open heavy and medium fire at the 2 story house, raining them on the house from all direction. Then they destroyed parts of the house, especially the second floor, when they began to shoot at my brother from a distance of no more than one meter when they found him hiding in the house.”
Adnan confirmed that his brother Issam was a member of Hamas and was wanted by Israeli forces for the past six months.
At least 173 Palestinians have so far been killed in extra-judicial executions committed by Israel, including 63 Palestinian bystanders. This is the third extra-judicial killing to take place over forty-eight hours.
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.
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.