Soldier shoots and kills construction worker in Kufr A-Dik village

Palestinian doctors trying to save wounded Palestinian fishermen after they were shot by Israeli boats in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, 13 December 2006. (MaanImages/Hatem Omar)

On Thursday, 14 December, at around 10:45 in the morning, an Israeli soldier shot to death Wahib a-Dik, a twenty-eight-year-old Palestinian laborer, and father of four. The IDF Spokesperson issued no statement on the incident. The press quoted anonymous military sources who said that a-Dik was shot by a Paratrooper Unit that entered a courtyard in a-Dik Village while chasing youths who had thrown stones. According to these sources, “the company commander saw a-Dik about to throw a brick at soldiers from the top of a flight of stairs. The commander fired two shots at the man, killing him.” The sources also contended that a-Dik was still conscious after he was shot and was taken to the hospital by a Red Crescent ambulance. These comments differ sharply from the findings of B’Tselem’s investigation.

B’Tselem conducted a thorough investigation including examination of the site and testimonies from eye witnesses. The medical report that the deceased’s family received from the hospital was also inspected. The investigative findings indicate that some twenty to thirty laborers were engaged in restoring an archeological site in the center of a-Dik, a village in Salfit District, in the northern part of the West Bank . The laborers heard gunshots and shouting by school children outside the worksite. Then a group of some seven soldiers entered the site. Nabih Naji, one of the laborers, told B’Tselem that he asked the soldiers what they were doing there, and a soldier stated they were looking for stone-throwers.

Suddenly, Wahib a-Dik, carrying two empty pails, came out of an upper level of the site and stood next to the stairs. A-Dik managed to say a few words, apparently to declare his innocence. The soldier went down on one knee, aimed his rifle, and fired a volley of bullets at a-Dik. Hit by the bullets, a-Dik dropped the pails, collapsed, and fell about five meters to the ground, apparently dead. His father, Muslah a-Dik, and Naji demanded that the soldier give the injured man first-aid and help evacuate him, but the soldier refused. The soldiers left the site. Residents came and took a-Dik to the hospital in Ramallah.

The medical report states that a-Dik, who was dead on arrival, was killed by two bullets that struck the middle of his body. A third bullet hit him in the hand.
These facts indicate that a-Dik was killed by illegal gunfire. The troops who entered the archeological site were on a policing mission to catch suspected stone throwers. In such situations, both Israeli law and international law permit the use of firearms only where actual and immediate danger to life is involved and other means are not available to thwart the danger. In any event, for the firing to be legal, the degree of danger inherent in firing the weapon must be proportionate to the result that the action seeks to prevent. A-Dik was standing high above the ground, holding two empty pails and posing no threat to the soldiers. Clearly, the shooting was unjustified.

On 17 December, B’Tselem wrote to the chief military prosecutor, demanding an immediate investigation into the killing and the refusal of the soldiers to provide first-aid.

Other cases of lethal shooting have taken place in similar circumstances in the past month, raising the concern that soldiers are receiving rules of engagement that contradict the law.

In December, B’Tselem learned of three additional cases in which soldiers opened fire in response to stone-throwing, or in the area of the separation barrier.

  • On 3 December, Jamil al-Jabji was shot in the area north of the ‘Askar refugee camp, which overlooks the Huwarra - a-Badan road. Al-Jabji threw stones at an army jeep. The soldiers in the jeep fired twice in the air as the jeep proceeded in the direction of the stone throwers. A third shot, fired from a distance of about twenty meters, hit al-Jabji in the head and killed him.
  • On 7 December, Saji Husam Mahmud a-Sheikh was shot near the separation barrier, two kilometers south of Beit ‘Anan, al-Quds district. Saji and his friends had attacked the fence with sticks and threw stones. Soldiers who lay in wait nearby opened fire from a distance of fifty to seventy meters. One of the shots hit Saji, breaking the bone in his leg. He underwent surgery in a Ramallah hospital and will require further surgery to repair the injury.
  • On 19 December, soldiers fired at two Palestinian girls who approached the separation barrier by Far’un, a village near Tulkarm. The shooting killed Da’ah ‘Abd al-Qadr, 14, and wounded her friend Saha Shalbi, 12. The Military Police are investigating the incident.
  • In all of these cases, the soldiers’ lives were apparently not in danger. In its letter to the chief military prosecutor, B’Tselem demanded an investigation into whether soldiers were issued orders that could be understand in a way that contravenes the law, by giving them the dangerous impression that they are allowed to open fire at stone throwers.

    Related Links

  • B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories