Israeli forces kill four Palestinians in West Bank, bomb Gaza tunnels

Palestinians carry the body of Osaid Kaddous, 17, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Iraq Burin near Nablus, 21 March 2010. Palestinian medics said Mohammed and Osaid Kaddous were killed during a confrontation on Saturday between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths in the village of Iraq Burin. (Rami Swidan/MaanImages)

In the past three days, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have escalated their war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The latest of such crimes committed by IOF were the killing of two Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and air strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns this escalation and renews its call upon the international community to bring to trial Israeli political and military leaders who are allegedly responsible for war crimes.

In the West Bank, IOF killed two Palestinian civilians from Awarta village, southeast of Nablus. Less than 24 hours earlier, IOF killed two Palestinian civilians, including a child, in cold blood in Iraq Bourin village, south of Nablus.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 12:05pm on Sunday 21 March 2010, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Nablus was informed by the Israeli Military Liaison that there were two bodies belonging to Palestinians who were killed by Israeli troops near Awarta village, southeast of Nablus. A PRCS ambulance drove to the reported scene. Ahmed Jebril, the driver, and Jamal Husni Abu Hamda, a paramedic, were in the ambulance. A vehicle belonging to the Israeli Military Liaison was waiting near Hawara checkpoint at the southern entrance of Nablus to lead the ambulance to the scene where the bodies were. The ambulance followed the military vehicle that drove towards the east of Awarta village on Aqraba-Yanoun road. The military vehicle stopped near an area of land planted with olives, approximately seven kilometers from the village. As the ambulance arrived, Jebril and Abu Hamda saw two bodies. The bodies were near the two edges of the road and there was a distance of 10-15 meters between them. They were covered with blankets which are used by the IOF. Israeli soldiers who were at the scene allowed the paramedics to check the two bodies. There were several wounds throughout the two bodies. Abu Hamda saw two small hoes and a Pepsi Cola in a plastic sack with one of the soldiers. The two bodies were carried to the ambulance that drove to Awarta commercial checkpoint to return to Nablus. Residents of Awarta village who gathered near the checkpoint identified the two victims as: Mohammed Faisal Mahmoud Qawariq, 20; and Salah Mohammed Kamel Qawariq, 19, both from Awarta village.

The two bodies were transferred to Rafidya Hospital in Nablus. Dr. Abdul Karim Hashash, who examined the bodies, told a PCHR fieldworker that Mohammed Qawariq was hit by four bullets to the chest (with entrances and exits), one to the bottom of the abdomen and two ones to the left thigh and leg. He also sustained fractures and burns in the left leg. This indicates that he was shot from a close range. Salah Qawarir was hit by a bullet that entered the chest and exited the back, another one to the right arm (with a entrance and an exit) and a third one that entered the back and exited the top of the chest. Abu Hamda stated that the nature of the wounds sustained by the two Palestinians, their clothes and what he saw with the soldier indicate that they were working on their land.

In the Gaza Strip, from Friday 19 March 2010 till Monday morning, 22 March, Israeli warplanes launched several strikes on civil targets.

  • At approximately 1:00am on Friday, an Israel F-16 fighter jet dropped two bombs on Mahdi al-Daia and Sons Company for iron framing on Saladin Street near the police station in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. The building, which stands on an 800-square meter area was completely destroyed, but no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 1:10am on Friday, Israeli warplanes fired five missiles at Saladin Gate, Yebna refugee camp and Block J which are located in the south of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, allegedly to destroy tunnels. As a result, Bader Oudet Allah al-Shaer, 32, was wounded by shrapnel to the face, and Salem Hamdan al-Shaer, 48, sustained a fracture of the right foot as a result of the strike. The wounded persons are workers in the tunnels.
  • At approximately 1:25am on Friday, Israeli F-16 fighter jets dropped a bomb on a farm in the east of Abasan village, east of Khan Younis. No casualties or material damage were reported.
  • At approximately 10:20pm on Friday, Israeli warplanes fired four missiles at Gaza International Airport, southeast of Rafah. Eleven Palestinians, including two children, were wounded as a result. The wounded civilians who are all residents of Rafah were transferring raw aggregate from the destroyed runway of the airport.
  • In the early morning of Monday, 22 March 2010, Israeli warplanes fired a missile at al-Shouka village, near Rafah International Crossing Point on the Egyptian border, southeast of Rafah, allegedly to destroy tunnels. The targeted tunnel caught fire as a result, but no casualties were reported.

PCHR reiterates its condemnation for these crimes and:

1. Asserts that these crimes are part of a series of war crimes committed by IOF in the OPT, which reflect total disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.

2. Calls upon the international community to take immediate action to put an end to such crimes. PCHR further renews its demand for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligation under Article 1 which stipulates “the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances,” as well as their obligations under Article 146 which requires that the Contracting Parties prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and under Protocol I Additional to Geneva Conventions.

This press release was edited.

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