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Excessive Use of Force and Arrests during IOF Raids

Saturday, 13 January 2018 09:49 - [1 – 7 January] - Ref.: 7/2018
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Over the past week, Al-Haq monitored and documented numerous raids and arrests carried out by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) across the occupied West Bank, including in Toulkarem, Bethlehem, Qalqiliya, and Nablus. For example, on 1 January 2017, between 1:00 and 5:00 am, the IOF carried out raids in several neighbourhoods and homes in the city of Toulkarem, the neighbouring Toulkarem refugee camp, as well as the town of Zita, in the north of the City. During these raids, the IOF searched and ransacked several homes and arrested at least 12 Palestinians.

In Bethlehem, on the morning of 4 January, tens of IOF members raided al-Dheisha Camp, south of the city. There, the IOF raided the family home of Ma’ali after destroying the main door, beating one of the residents and detaining him for two hours. Following the raid, youth from the camp threw stones at the IOF. The IOF responded with resort to excessive force, injuring 12 young Palestinian men, including 10 with live ammunition.

On that morning, Rami Khaled Al-Ahmar, 19, was walking toward the main street of Al-Dheisha Camp, when he was shot with a bullet in the rear of his left thigh. He was approximately 50 metres away from the IOF at the time. He was transported to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital in a taxi by two young men. From there, he was then transferred to the Arab Association Rehabilitation Hospital where his wound was x-rayed, showing that a ‘two-two’ bullet (live ammunition that is a 0.22 inch calibre bullet) had penetrated his left thigh from the back and settled there. Rami was released on the morning of 5 January. He currently suffers from recurring pain in his thigh and finds it difficult to move. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 1/2018)

Jihad Mahmoud Al-Atrash, 30, works in a supermarket near his house in al-Dheisha Camp. On that morning, 4 January, he opened the supermarket as he usually does at about 7:00 am. As he was sweeping the entrance of the supermarket, he recalls seeing about 20 IOF soldiers leaving the Camp. Jihad was not aware of the raid that morning. While at the entrance of the shop, Jihad felt a strong burning sensation in his leg and fell to the ground. He was taken to hospital as he bled heavily from his leg. Shortly after, he underwent a nine-hour long surgery. Jihad was hit with four bullets in the right leg (below the knee) and left thigh. He was in critical condition as the bullets had hit his main arteries and bones, requiring him to undergo a main artery transplant. Jihad underwent another surgery on 9 January. He was informed that he will not be able to walk for six months and that he will require physical therapy. He is scheduled for release from hospital on 20 January 2018. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 4/2018)

Such raids carried out by the IOF place the protected Palestinian population at imminent risk, threatening their security, safety, and livelihoods. This is the case especially when the IOF arbitrarily deploys excessive force. The Occupying Power is obliged to treat the occupied protected population humanely and to protect them against targeted acts of violence in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949).1

However, the excessive use of force, including use of live ammunition against Palestinian civilians, violates international human rights and humanitarian law standards and guarantees. Additionally, the use of 0.22 inch calibre bullets by the IOF, as in the case of Rami above, is disputed as its use was prohibited. The use of this weapon was suspended between 2001 and 2008 by the Israeli military.2 However, the IOF has resumed the use of these bullets despite their serious and lethal effects.3 The IOF must refrain from using live ammunition against Palestinian civilians in line with their obligations under international law. As such, Law Enforcement Officials should limit resort to the use of firearms to extreme measures while upholding the principles of necessity and proportionality.4

Furthermore, house raids may constitute a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which stipulates that no one should be punished for a crime they did not personally commit. House raids by the IOF may also be in breach of Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which stipulates that no one should be subjected to the arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy and family home. Moreover, it should be noted that Article 9 of the ICCPR provides that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person and should not be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.


 

1Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949, Article 27(1).

2B’Tselem, Military Steps Up Use of Live 0.22 inch Bullets against Palestinian Stone-Throwers, 18 January 2015, available at: https://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20150118_use_of_live_ammunition_in_wb

3Peter Beaumont, “Israel Relaxes Live-Fire Rules against Palestinian Stone-Throwers” (the Guardian, 25 September 2015), available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/25/israel-live-ammunition-measures

4Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, adopted on 17 December 1979, Article 3.

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