For the 11th consecutive day, Israeli occupying forces have committed war crimes in Nablus and nearby refugee camps. In the past 24 hours, Israeli occupying forces have killed 4 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children. A number of others were also injured when Israeli forces used excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators. The international community remains silent as these crimes are perpetrated.
Israeli belligerent operations in Nablus have also left a number of historical sites in the city’s old town destroyed. Due to the intense deployment of Israeli occupying forces, however, PCHR Field Workers have not been able to access the northern West Bank city and the exact amount of destruction is still unknown. PCHR strongly condemns this escalation by Israeli occupying forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, especially in Nablus, and calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to immediately intervene and provide protection for Palestinian civilians and property.
On Saturday, 3 January 2004, in an excessive use of lethal force, Israeli occupying forces shot dead 4 Palestinian civilians in Nablus. According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitness testimonies, at approximately 09:00, a number of Palestinian children gathered on Schools Street in the Sheikh Musallam neighborhood in the east of Nablus’ old town. The children climbed onto the roof of a building in the area and threw stones towards Israeli military vehicles. Immediately, the soldiers opened fire at the children. Other Israeli soldiers positioned on the roofs of nearby buildings also opened fire. One of the children, Amjad Bilal Nabil al-Masri, 15, was wounded by a live bullet in the chest. According to eyewitnesses, a sniper positioned on the roof of a school in the area fired at the child from a distance of approximately 50 meters. The child was left bleeding for 15 minutes before medical personnel were able to attend him. When the medical personnel finally reached him, he was already dead.
At approximately 09:30 on the same day, a number of Palestinian children gathered at al-Shuhada Square in the center of the city and threw stones at Israeli occupying forces. Immediately, Israeli soldiers opened fire at the children, killing 17-year-old ‘Aamer Kazem Kamel ‘Arafat with a live bullet to the chest. According to eyewitnesses, the child was shot by Israeli soldiers positioned on the roof of the neighboring al-Kindi School.
At approximately 10:20 on the same day, Israeli soldiers in tanks positioned on Granada Street, in the center of the city, opened fire at a number of Palestinian demonstrators. Rawhi Hazem Rawhi Shuman, 26, was wounded by a live bullet in the chest. He died on the way to the hospital.
At approximately 13:30, during the funeral procession of the aforementioned victims, an Israeli armored personnel carrier and 2 military jeeps moved towards the participants while they were on their way towards Nablus’ western cemetery. Israeli soldiers in the vehicles then opened fire at the funeral. Four Palestinian civilians were seriously wounded. One of them, 18-year-old Mohammed Qais Isma’il al-Masri died at Rafidya Hospital at approximately 18:30. Al-Masri was hit by a live bullet in the head.
These recent killings come in the context of a continuing Israeli military operation in Nablus termed “Static Water”. This operation technically began on Thursday, 25 December 2003. However, the “Static Water” operation comes directly on the heels of previous incursions into Nablus. On Wednesday, 24 December 2003, the Israeli army temporarily withdrew from the city but launched the renewed attacks only one day later. Israeli occupying forces are now in the 11th consecutive day of the current operation.
PCHR strongly condemns this escalation of war crimes perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians and property. These crimes provide further evidence of the Israeli occupying forces’ systematic use of excessive force against the Palestinian civilian population. In light of these most recent crimes, PCHR renews its call to the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to immediately intervene to protect Palestinian civilians and property.