Israeli occupying forces committed a willful killing and used excessive force in the slaying three other Palestinians, during a wide-scale incursion into Nablus on Thursday, 18 December 2003. These excessive military measures by the Israeli occupying forces in the occupied Palestinian territories represent a continuous escalation of the conflict. PCHR is gravely concerned by this escalation and calls upon the international community to fulfill its legal obligations to stop Israeli war crimes.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR fieldworkers, at approximately 01:30 on Thursday around 50 Israeli military vehicles, supported by helicopter gunships, moved into Nablus through the southern and eastern entrances. The military vehicles and gunships opened fire at houses and streets in the city. The Israeli forces invaded Balata refugee camp and took up positions in the streets. They then moved towards al-Shuhada square in the center of the city and surrounded Nablus’ old town, before moving into the town at approximately 03:00.
At approximately 03:30, Israeli soldiers fired at 25-year-old ‘Alaa al-Din Dawaia, wounding him with a live bullet in the chest. No ambulances were permitted access to the area and Dawaia remained on the ground bleeding until 04:00. At that time, a number of Israeli soldiers moved towards him and shot him dead with 8 live bullets. Israeli occupying forces said that Dawaia was attempting to plant an explosive device in the path of Israeli military vehicles. However, according to eyewitnesses, the victim was on his way from his home to his work at a bakery when he was killed.
In a separate incident during the incursion, a number of Israeli occupying soldiers broke into a 3-storey house owned by Tayseer al-Bustami. The soldiers held the residents in one room and mounted the roof of the house. Residents reported that at approximately 06:00, the soldiers on the roof of the house began to fire intensely. The Israeli forces withdrew from the city at approximately 08:10. Afterwards, residents of the area found the bodies of 3 Palestinians on the roof of a deserted house near al-Bustami’s home. According to eyewitnesses, the bodies were found approximately 15m away from the place where Israeli soldiers had been positioned.
The three victims were reportedly members of the Palestinian resistance who had attempted to confront the Israeli military incursion. However, the bodies’ proximity to the soldiers’ position suggests that perhaps the soldiers could have used less lethal means in apprehending the men. The victims were later identified as: Jibril Salim Hassan ‘Awad, 24, from ‘Awarta village, southeast of Nablus, hit by several live bullets throughout the body; Majdi Mohammed Fakhri al-Bahash, 25, from Nablus, hit by several live bullets throughout the body; and Fadi Tawfiq Sulayeh Hanani, from Beit Dajan village, east of Nablus, hit by several live bullets throughout the body.
PCHR strongly condemns the willful killing of ‘Alaa’ al-Din Dawaia and the use of excessive force in the deaths of the three other Palestinians. These crimes are a further example of the Israeli occupying forces’ systemic use of excessive force against the Palestinian civilian population. Such events serve to escalate the tension in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and represent a blatant disregard for the lives of civilians. In light of these most recent crimes committed by Israeli occupying forces, 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.