Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Releases, 23 March 2014
In excessive use of force, on Saturday, 22 March 2014, Israeli forces killed, 2 Palestinian civilians and a member of a Palestinian armed group and wounded 12 civilians and a members of the Palestinian National Security Forces in Jenin refugee camp, west of the northern West Bank town of Jenin. Israeli forces claimed via the Israeli media that they killed 3 Palestinians during armed clashes in the aforementioned refugee camp. However, investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) investigations refute the Israeli claim and confirm that the two civilians were killed as Israeli forces opened fire heavily at dozen of civilians who were trying to pull and carry the militant’s body in the centre of the camp.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 02:00 on the Saturday, 22 March 2014, an Israeli special military force from “Alimam” Unit in the Israeli military, which is described as “an anti-terrorism unit” infiltrated into the south of Jenin refugee camp, west of Jenin. The Israeli force surrounded a two-storey house belonging to the family of ‘Azmi Mohammed Mahmoud al-Hasaniyah (67) in Tal’et al-Ghabes area. Israeli forces then sent large military back-ups, which were deployed throughout the camp while Israeli drones were hovering overhead. Israeli snipers ascended roofs of nearby houses after they received information that Hamzah Jamal ‘Abdel Salam Abu al-Heijah (22), the local leader of the Izziddin al-Qassam brigades (the armed wing of Hamas), was in the house.
After the military back-ups had arrived, Israeli forces blew up the main door of the houses and opened fire. They then yelled at residents of the house to get out. When the residents were about to come out and Mohammed (23), the son of the house’s owner who is member of the Palestinian National Security Forces, opened the external door, he was shot in the left shoulder. Amidst the screams of his family, the shooting stopped and the residents began to get out one by one while Abu al-Heijah stayed in a room on the second floor. Israeli forces arrested Mohammed and his brother, Majd (18), and took the rest of the family members to a nearby house. They then entered a tracker dog into the house, but Hamzah killed it and this made the Israeli forces be certain that he is in the house. As a result, Israeli forces showered the house with live bullets and shells fired by machine guns and then used shoulder-fired missiles. As a result, the house was partially destroyed. Meanwhile, armed clashes broke out between Palestinian militants, who stationed in the areas of al-Sahah and Abu Thahir Mountain areas, and Hamzah from the house from one side and the Israeli forces, which were surrounding the house, from the other side. Hamzah took advantage of this and jumped from one of the western windows of the house. As soon as he stepped a few meters, the snipers opened fired and immediately killed him. They left him for two hours and he bled to death in the alley. Young men then tried to pull his body, and Israeli forces opened fire at them. However, they managed to pull it. When they were passing by al-Sahah area, Israeli forces opened fire killing two of them: Yazan Mahmoud Basem Taha “Jabarin” (20) who was hit by a bullet to the chest; and Mahmoud ‘Omer Saleh Abu Zeinah (24), who was hit by a bullet to the chest. When the news of the death of 3 persons spread out, the camp residents started coming out of their houses. Immediately, the Israeli snipers opened fire at these civilians wounding 11 of them, including a 65-year-old woman. Thus, the number of wounded persons mounted to 12 civilians. It should be mentioned that Hamzah Abu al-Heijah is the son of Jamal Abu al-Heijah, who is serving a sentence of 9 life imprisonments in the Israeli jails. Hamzah had been subject to several extra-judicial execution attempts, the last of which was on 18 December 2013 when an Israeli special unit targeted him. However, he managed to escape and Nafe’a Jamil Nafe’a al-Sa’adi was killed.
PCHR strongly condemns this crime, which further proves the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives. PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate and effective action to stop Israeli crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under Article 146 to 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 Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions.