Israeli forces kill six Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza

‘Anan Sobeh was among three Palestinian activists extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces in Nablus on 26 December 2009. (Rami Swidan/MaanImages)

On Saturday morning, 26 December 2009, Israeli occupation forces killed six Palestinians in two separate attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the northern Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation forces employed excessive lethal force and killed three Palestinians, and Israeli undercover units extrajudicially executed three members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (the armed wing of Fatah movement) in Nablus. The three victims in Nablus had been granted amnesty, in coordination with the Palestinian National Authority, and had been allowed to freely move and live normally. Israeli occupation forces claimed that undercover unit fired at the three victims “as they refused to surrender.” However, investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) conclude that the three victims were executed in cold blood.  
PCHR strongly condemns these latest crimes, and reiterates the call for the international community to prosecute Israeli political and military officials suspected of committing such crimes. PCHR notes that these latest crimes occurred on the eve of the first anniversary of Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip. To date, none of those suspected of committing war crimes during the offensive have been prosecuted; this impunity serves to encourage further violations of international law. It is Palestinian civilians who suffer the consequences.
In the Gaza Strip, at approximately 00:30 on Saturday, 26 December 2009, Israeli troops stationed on observation towards along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the north of Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at a number of Palestinians who got close to the border. The Israeli gunfire lasted for approximately 20 minutes, after which an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the Palestinians.  As a result, three Palestinians were killed:

1. Basheer Suleiman Mousa Abu Duhail, 20;
2. Mahmoud Jom’a Ibrahim al-Sharat’ha, 19; and
3. Hani Salem Ibrahim Abu Ghazal, 20.  
The victims are all from al-Nasser village (the Bedouin village) to the north of Beit Lahia. They were unarmed and were apparently attempting to infiltrate into Israel to search for jobs. A fourth Palestinian survived the attack.
In the West Bank, at approximately 02:00 on Saturday, 26 December 2009, Israeli occupation forces, including undercover units, moved into Nablus. They positioned themselves near al-Nasser Mosque in the old town, where they surrounded and opened fire at a house belonging to the family of Ra’ed ‘Abdul Jabbar Mohammed al-Sarkaji, 40. Using megaphones, they ordered al-Sarkaji out of the house. As soon as he opened the door, Israeli troops opened fired at him.  He was hit by a gunshot to the forehead and fell down. Soon after, Israeli occupation forces fired at him from a very close range. He was killed by six gunshots to the head, the chest, the left forearm, the pelvis and the left leg.  His wife, 32-year-old Tahani Farouq Ja’ara, was wounded by shrapnel to the leg. 
At the same time, other Israeli units besieged a house belonging to the family of Ghassan Fat’hi Abu Sharekh, 38, near Qaderi fish market in the old town.  Through megaphones they ordered residents of the house to get out. All the inhabitants left the building, Ghassan was the last to leave. Once he appeared, Israeli occupation forces opened fire at him. He was killed by sevem gunshots to the neck, the chest, the abdomen, the back and the left leg. 
At approximately 02:30, Israeli occupation forces besieged the Sobeh five-story apartment building in Kshaika Street in Ras al-‘Ein neighborhood in the southeast of Nablus. They called through megaphones on ‘Anan Suleiman Mustafa Sobeh, 36, who lives on the second floor, to get out and surrender to them.  They opened fire at the building. At approximately 08:00, Israeli occupation forces withdrew from the area, and residents of the area found ‘Anan’s body on the roof of a car washing yard near the building. He was hit by several gunshots to the chest, the right shoulder, the neck and the lower jaw.  
PCHR strongly condemns crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), and:
1)  Asserts that these latest crimes are ones in a series of continuous crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces in the OPT in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.

2)  Reiterates condemnation for the policy of extra-judicial executions adopted by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian activists, and asserts that this policy serves to increase tension in the region and threatens the lives of Palestinian civilians.

3)  Calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop such crimes, and calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to fulfill their obligation under article 1 of the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under article 146 to search for and prosecute those who are responsible for perpetrating grave breaches of the Convention, as such breaches constitute war crimes according to article 147 of the Convention and the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I).

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