Another Palestinian worker killed after crossing the Annexation Wall

Al-haq Press Release, 5 October 2010.

On 3 October 2010, ‘Izz-al-Din al-Kawazba, a Palestinian resident of Sa’ir, near Hebron, was shot and killed by Israeli border guards after crossing the Annexation Wall (the Wall) near the village of al-‘Eizariyya in occupied East Jerusalem. An Israeli police spokesman has claimed that ‘Izz-al-Din was shot after he tried to grab an officer’s gun while he and other Palestinian workers were being chased by an Israeli border guard.

A field investigation conducted by Al-Haq casts serious doubt over the Israeli authorities’ version of events and reports the following:

At approximately 2:00 am on Sunday October 3, 2010, ‘Izz-al-Din, a 37-year-old father of five, his brother, Hasan Saleh al-Kawazba, and their cousin, Saleh al-Kawazba, climbed over the Wall in the West Bank village of al-Z’ayyem, near al-‘Eizariyya, and entered occupied East Jerusalem in order to access their workplaces inside Israel. Approximately 200 other Palestinian labourers had also gathered in this area, which is a known cross-over point for workers who do not hold permits to enter Israel.

Soon after the three relatives had climbed over the Wall, they saw an Israeli border guard car and, fearful of being caught, began to flee up a steep dirt road. While Salah and Hasan escaped, ‘Izz-al-Din was confronted by an Israeli border guard officer at the top of the hill. When the officer was approximately three meters away from ‘Izz-al-Din, he fired his gun – without any warning – directly at the victim. ‘Izz-al-Din fell forward and later died of the bullet wound, which had entered the right side of his chest and penetrated his heart.

These findings indicate that ‘Izz-al-Din was summarily executed by the Israeli occupying authorities in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. Palestinian workers with West Bank identity cards who enter occupied East Jerusalem without a permit contravene the ‘Entry into Israel Law’ and breach a military order that defines the West Bank as a closed military area. International humanitarian law recognises that, in times of occupation, the force employed in law enforcement operations such as this, as opposed to situations of armed hostilities, must be reasonable, strictly necessary and proportionate to the stated objective of preventing the entry of Palestinians into Israel without permits. The use of live ammunition against unarmed workers is clearly a disproportionate use of force, breaching the workers’ right to life. Furthermore, under customary international humanitarian law, the intentional killing of an unarmed civilian amounts to ‘wilful killing,’ which is a war crime and a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Al-Haq is deeply concerned by the nature of this and other recent attacks against Palestinian workers in the OPT, where unnecessary and disproportionate force is used by the Israeli occupying forces with an intent to kill or to cause injury, demonstrating a disturbing indifference to the preservation of civilian life.

It is almost certain that there will be no accountability for this killing. Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000, the Israeli military instituted a change of policy whereby the killing of Palestinian civilians would only be investigated in exceptional cases. According the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, since September 2000, very few indictments have been filed against Israeli occupying forces for the killing of Palestinian civilians, and only a handful have resulted in convictions. Moreover, out of 148 cases filed by B’Tselem for military investigation between 2006 and 2009, only 22 cases were investigated. The failure of the Israeli judicial system to address violations committed by the Israeli occupying authorities has resulted in a pervasive climate of impunity.

This consistent disregard for Palestinians’ right to life by the Israeli occupying authorities, and the impunity accorded to those responsible for killing Palestinians civilians warrants urgent action by the international community. The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention must, pursuant to their obligation to ensure respect for the Convention, intervene with Israel to prevent further killings and to ensure accountability. As a result of the impunity accorded to Israeli occupying forces responsible for killing Palestinian civilians, the High Contracting Parties must also fulfil their obligations under Article 146 of the Convention to search for and bring to justice before their own courts persons alleged to have committed wilful killings.

Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation based in Ramallah, West Bank. Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the organisation has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.  See www.alhaq.org


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