The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
Brief description of the situation
The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by Defence for Children International - Palestine section and Al-Haq of the unlawful killing of seven children, the youngest of which was 4 years old, and the beating and use of a 13 year old boy as a human shield.
According to the information received, similarly to the February events, in the week 18-24 April 2004, Israeli forces entered the northern Gaza Strip so as to repress demonstration against the building of the Annexation Wall. During the course of the three-day violent Israeli incursion, seven Palestinian children have been killed and a further 40 injured. Israeli armoured vehicles and tanks, supported by helicopter gunships raided the northern districts of Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun. The Israeli Occupation Forces deployed heavy artillery and snipers against the Palestinian demonstrators who threw stones at the bulldozers in an attempt to prevent the destruction of Palestinian agricultural land.
Seven children died during and shortly after these demonstrations. Yousef Taleb al-Do’ar (14 years old), Mohammed Abed al-Motaleb al- Ajouri (16 years old), Mohammed Rassim al-Malfouh (15 years old), Khaldun Ziad Abu Jarad (16 years old), Radwan Mohammed Hamtou (15 years old) were killed in the attacks. Two girls - four-year old Asma Ali Abu Qlaiq and nine-year old Mona Hamada Abu Tabaq were also killed during the Israeli incursions. Asma suffered respiratory failure after Israeli forces fired tear close canisters near the family’s house. Mona was also in a residential area when she was killed by Israeli gunfire.
According to the same sources, on 22nd April 2004, a 13 year old boy called Mohammed Said Essa Badwan/Badran was used as a human shield. Mohammed was peacefully taking part in spontaneous demonstration in Biddo against the building of the Annexation Wall. Around noon, following the launch of sound bombs and teargas canisters by the soldiers, some nearby youth started throwing stones. At this point, two Israeli Border Guards arrested Mohammed, beat him and forced him to sit on the hood of their jeep, tying his arm to the windshield screen and then using him as a human shield. Attempts by Mohammed’s father and others to obtain the child’s release only resulted in further threats by the soldiers who dispersed them at gun point. Moreover, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who heads the organisation Rabbis for Human Rights, was present and tried to intervene for the release of the child but was instead arrested and beaten.
Mohammed was reported to have been repeatedly hit by the soldiers while he was tied to the vehicle. Although he begged them to release him because he was scared and in pain, they would not. He also reportedly suffered from exposure to the teargas used by the soldiers, since he could not move nor was he given any protection.
After about four hours, Mohammed was untied, forced into the jeep and taken first to Al-Sahl, an area in which the Annexation Wall is being constructed. He was then questioned by a military officer. Finally the child was released in the neighbouring village of Al-Kalaileh where he had to wait, alone and in the dark, for a relative to come and pick him up. Mohammed only returned to his home at around 9 pm. His parents report that the boy could not stop shivering from fear and that he had bruises on one hand and on his back.
OMCT expresses its grave concern over these events. OMCT would like to recall Israel that under article 37 (a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, “no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment […]”; and that, according to article 38.1 of the same Convention, “States Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law applicable to them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child”. Moreover the second reported incident is a clear violation of article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War which states that “the presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations” and an infringement of article 32 of the same convention, according to which “the High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands. This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, […] but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents”.
Please write to the authorities in Israel urging them to:
i. order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these events, notably the unlawful killings as well as the arrest and inhuman treatment of Mohammed Said Essa Badwan/Badran, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
ii. guarantee that adequate reparation is provided to the victims and the families of the victims of these abuses;
iii. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards;
Please also write to the embassies of Israel in your respective country.
Geneva, April 29th, 2004
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.