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Over the past four weeks, Israel has carried out continuous attacks on the Gaza Strip, resulting in the killing of at least 1,909 Palestinians, including 1,437 civilians, 448 of which have been children. Furthermore, more than 8,265 Palestinians have been injured, of whom 2,744 are children. As the casualty toll rises in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians across cities in the West Bank have protested the Israeli attacks, the killing of Palestinians and the illegal closure of the Gaza Strip. Such demonstrations have taken place in Nablus, Ramallah, Qalqiliyya, Bethlehem and other cities and villages. In most instances, these demonstrations have evolved into confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. According to Al-Haq field documentation, since 8 July, the beginning of so-called “Operation Protective Edge”, 17 Palestinians have been killed during clashes with the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in different cities in the West Bank. Between 21 July and 2 August 2014, 13 Palestinians were shot dead by the IOF in the districts of Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Ramallah, Tulkarem, and the suburbs of Jerusalem. Additionally, on 3 August, another Palestinian was shot dead in Jerusalem - an incident that is still being documented by Al-Haq. The following preliminary information was collected by the Al-Haq field research team in the West Bank in the form of affidavits and field reports.
Mahmud Hatem Shawamra – al-Ram – Jerusalem
On the night of 21 July, clashes erupted between Palestinians, who threw stones, and Israeli soldiers near the northern entrance of al-Ram, north Jerusalem. At approximately 9:00 P.M., Mahmud, 27, was with a group of young men preparing Molotov cocktails to throw at the Israeli military jeeps that regularly pass by. While they were preparing the Molotov cocktails, the situation was calm and no clashes were taking place in the area. Suddenly, an Israeli military jeep appeared from a bypass road. When the men saw the jeep they began running toward an empty piece of land leading to the old town of al-Ram. According to an eye witness, Mahmud threw a Molotov cocktail at the jeep and then tried to escape, but was shot with three live bullets, which killed him.
Mahmud Saleh Hamamra – Hosan village – Bethlehem
On 21 July, Mahmud, 33, finished his evening prayers at the village mosque in Hosan, in the al-Matyana area, west of Bethlehem. At approximately 11:30 P.M., clashes erupted between Palestinian youth, who were throwing stones, and Israeli soldiers, who were firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the stone throwers. After the prayers, Mahmud went to his grocery shop, which is located near the mosque. The soldiers were situated to the east of Mahmud’s shop and the youth stood opposite his store, to the north. Mahmud’s wife, Amani Hamamra, and their son Bara’, 7, were in the shop with him.
Suddenly, they heard a loud explosion and Mahmud went and stood outside his shop to see what was happening. Amani stood behind her husband, who was approximately 30 metres away from the Israeli soldiers. Amani recalls that the soldiers could clearly see that Mahmud was not throwing stones. A minute later, Mahmud turned to Amani and told her that he had been shot and his arm started to swell. Bara’, called his uncle, Nofal, to come and check on Mahmud. When Nofal arrived at the shop, he saw Mahmud leaning on the table with his hand on his chest and his shirt covered with blood. Nofal lifted Mahmud’s shirt to find that he had been shot on the left side of his chest and was bleeding. Shortly afterwards, Mahmud was transferred to the nearest clinic in a car. At the clinic, the doctor informed them that Mahmud’s injury was serious and transferred him to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital. From there, he was transferred to al-Mezan Hospital in Hebron due to the seriousness of the injury. There, at approximately 1:20 A.M. on 22 July, Mahmud was announced dead as a result of internal bleeding.
Muhammad Qasem Hamamra – Hosan village – Bethlehem
At approximately 6:00 A.M. on 22 July, following Mahmud’s funeral in Hosan, clashes erupted between Palestinian youth, who threw stones and the IOF, who fired tear gas and live bullets. During the clashes, Muhammad, 20, was shot in the head with a live bullet from a one metre distance. Muhammad was transferred to the ICU at the Arab Society for Specialized Rehabilitation and Surgery Hospital in Bethlehem. An anonymous witness stated that she was on the roof of her house along with her family on the morning of the funeral. There were about 10 Israeli military jeeps and approximately 50 Israeli soldiers, who, for no apparent reason, fired bullets into the air during the funeral procession. The same witness stated that during the confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, the latter responded to the Palestinian youth, who were throwing stones, by firing tear gas. However, the witness said that she did not hear any gunshots. Other people present in the premises at that time confirmed that no gunshots had been heard at the time of the confrontations. As Muhammad was killed by live fire, it is assumed that the Israeli soldiers used a sound suppresser when firing the bullets.
Muhammad Zeyad A’raj – Qalandia Refugee Camp – Jerusalem
On 24 July 2014, a mass demonstration entitled the #48KMarch, set out from al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah and continued to Qalandia checkpoint, north Jerusalem. Thousands of people participated in the demonstration calling for an end to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. At approximately 10:15 P.M., while the demonstrators were about 50 metres away from the checkpoint, Israeli soldiers began firing live ammunition in the direction of the protestors, some of whom were throwing stones. That night, there were more than 142 people wounded with live bullets. Muhammad, 17, was shot with three live bullets and killed. One bullet entered the back of his head and exited around his left eyebrow, causing fractures to the skull. Another bullet entered the back of his left thigh and a third bullet hit him in the left arm.
Sultan Yusuf Shuqdam, Abdelhamid Ahmad Bregeth and Hashem Khadr Abu Maria – Beit Ummar – Hebron
In Hebron, on 25 July 2014, following Friday prayers, a demonstration against Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip attended by thousands took place in Beit Ummar. At approximately 1:30 P.M., Palestinians threw stones at the Israeli military post and tower, which are located inside the town. The soldiers retaliated by opening fire in their direction. A military jeep, accompanied by soldiers on foot, arrived at the scene. The soldiers fired several kinds of ammunition at the protestors.
At approximately 2:00 P.M., Sultan, 32, was on the main street in ‘Asida area and was throwing stones at the soldiers, who were to the west of the street. A soldier shot Sultan in the chest with a live bullet from a distance of approximately 300 metres, causing him to fall to the ground. As Abdelhamid, 38, tried to lift Sultan, a soldier shot Abdelhamid in the foot, followed by another live bullet in the back. The bullet in the back exited through the left side of his neck. Abdelhamid fell over Sultan onto the ground. Abdelhamid and Sultan were transferred to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron where they were both announced dead shortly after their arrival.
At approximately the same time, Hashem, 45, a human rights activist with Defence for Children International, was shot in the chest in Beit Ummar. He was transferred to al-Ahli Governmental Hospital in Hebron where he was announced dead. Hesham was merely observing the situation in Beit Ummar and did not take part in the clashes.
‘Eid Rabbah Fudeilat – al-‘Arroub refugee camp – Hebron
On 25 July, some Palestinians in al-‘Arroub refugee camp in Hebron took part in stone throwing at Israeli soldiers between noon and approximately 7:45 P.M. During the stone throwing, three Israeli soldiers were located near the home of ‘Eid, 28. From there, they fired different kinds of ammunition at the demonstrators. ‘Eid’s two brothers, Belal and Nizar, and his nephew, Rabbah, were trying to reach their house at the time but could not continue due to Israeli fire. Nizar called ‘Eid and informed him of their location. He asked ‘Eid to request that the soldiers let them pass so they could reach their house safely. ‘Eid walked towards the soldiers and seemed to have had a heated argument with one of them. A soldier pushed ‘Eid, who responded by punching the soldier several times. He then ran away to where his brothers and nephew were. When ‘Eid had run about 10 metres away from the soldiers, they opened fire in his direction. ‘Eid fell forward onto his face approximately 40 metres away from his house. At that point the soldiers left al-‘Arroub. ‘Eid was transferred to hospital where it was concluded that he had been shot with 11 live bullets; two in the legs, one in the right shoulder and the rest in his back. At approximately 8:30 P.M., ‘Eid was announced dead.
Basem Sati Abul Rub – Qabatiya – Jenin
On 25 July, at around 10:30 P.M. a demonstration of approximately nine thousand people set out from the centre of Jenin and headed to al-Jalma checkpoint, north of the city. The demonstration was held in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. Near the checkpoint, a group of about 170 youths began throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at an Israeli force consisting of five military jeeps and 25 soldiers. The forces immediately retaliated by firing bullets in the direction of the protestors, injuring many people, including a journalist. One of the protestors, Basem, 19, was hiding behind a soil hill around 45 metres away from the soldiers, along with five others. At approximately 2:00 A.M. on 26 July as the clashes continued, Basem came out from behind the hill to throw stones at the soldiers. He was immediately shot with a live bullet in the centre of his chest. He was then carried into an ambulance where the paramedics said that he died immediately. His body was transferred to Jenin Governmental Hospital.
According to Al-Haq’s field researcher, there were 27 people at the hospital that had been injured at the protest. Most were injured in the lower parts of the body and had been hit with live bullets. According to witnesses, the sound of live bullets during the protest was rare. However, due to the number of injuries caused by live bullets, it is suspected that the Israeli forces used a sound suppressor when firing bullets.
Khaled ‘Azmi ‘Odeh – Huwara – Nablus
On 25 July at approximately 1:00 P.M., a demonstration took place on Huwara Street in Nablus in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. The demonstration headed towards the Huwara checkpoint and, when it reached the Udla intersection, Palestinian youth threw stones at three settlers’ cars passing by. A settler in another car, a silver-coloured jeep with an Israeli license plate, opened fire at the demonstrators, injuring four people with live bullets. Khaled, 20, was shot on the left side of his body. He was transferred to the Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus, along with the other injured protestors. Khaled was announced dead at approximately 3:00 P.M. that day.
Tayyeb Saleh Shihada – Huwara – Nablus
On 25 July at approximately 1:30 P.M., clashes erupted between Palestinians, who threw stones, and Israeli forces at the Huwara checkpoint, near the Yitzhar settlement intersection. Tayyeb, 21, was wearing a mask to cover his face and was throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers. He was shot with a live bullet that penetrated the lower part of his eye and exited through the back of his head. The bullet shattered his brain and caused internal bleeding. He was transferred to Rafidia Governmental Hospital, where he was immediately announced dead. Four additional people were injured with live bullets.
Nasri Taqatqa – Beit Fajjar – Bethlehem
On 26 July, there were confrontations between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers in Beit Fajjar, Bethlehem. During the clashes, Nasri, 14, was killed when he was shot with a live bullet in the chest. After he was shot, he was transferred to a nearby clinic where he was announced dead.
‘Alaa’ Jihad Ezghir – Ithna – Hebron
On 29 July, ‘Alaa’, 21, was announced dead after having been injured on 23 July by a bullet that hit him in the stomach. At the time, he was throwing stones at Israeli soldiers at the entrance of his village, Ithna, Hebron.
‘Odai Nafez Jabr – Rafat village – Ramallah
On 1 August, a protest set out from Safa village, west of Ramallah, in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. The demonstration headed towards the Wall, the route of which runs near the village, to an area called al-Thaher. At approximately 1:30 P.M., when the demonstrators arrived at the Wall, they found an Israeli military jeep located close to a gate in Wall, but on the other side. Between approximately 1:40 and 2:05 P.M., Israeli soldiers fired a large amount of tear gas over the gate towards the demonstrators, some of whom were throwing stones at them. At that time, two other military jeeps arrived at the scene and fired additional tear gas. As a result, two people were wounded. The protestors struggled to carry the wounded to a nearby ambulance due to the rocky paths and the heavy tear gas. At one point, the demonstrators had yelled at the soldiers that someone was injured but the Israeli forces continued firing tear gas and live bullets. Witnesses confirm that the soldiers understood Arabic, as they had cursed the demonstrators in Arabic earlier.
Between 3:30 and 4:00 P.M., around 10 Israeli soldiers crossed the gate in the Wall and moved into the village. The youth threw stones at them, causing them to retreat from the location in two military jeeps. One military jeep remained and continued to fire tear gas. At approximately 4:30 P.M., live bullets were fired by the Israeli forces. One of the protestors, ‘Odai, 19, was warned by another protestor to be careful as one of the soldiers had his gun pointed in his direction. As ‘Odai turned around and attempted to run, he was shot and fell to the ground.
Meanwhile, another military jeep had arrived at the scene of the incident. Due to the firing of live ammunition, no one was able to reach ‘Odai. He was left to bleed for 10 minutes before anyone could carry him to the closest ambulance. Once in the ambulance, ‘Odai was transferred to the Beit ‘Ur Medical Centre, and later to the Ramallah Governmental Hospital, where he was announced dead 10 minutes after his arrival at 6:10 P.M. Doctors concluded that ‘Odai was killed by a bullet that him in the left arm and settled in his chest, causing bleeding in his lungs.
Tamer Faraj Samur – Tulkarem
On 2 August, at approximately 1:30 P.M., Israeli soldiers shot Tamer, 22, with a live bullet, which hit him on the right side of his stomach. He was shot following a peaceful demonstration that had escalated into confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers near Gishori factories, west of Tulkarem.
As the Occupying Power, Israel must conduct its activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) in compliance with its obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law. As such, Israel must respect the right to life of the occupied Palestinian population in the OPT. The use of firearms by the Israeli army can only be justified in self-defence against imminent threat of death, serious injury, or to defend someone else from the imminent risk of death. In cases in which firearms are used, the Israeli army must seek to minimise damage and injury and respect and preserve human life. Al-Haq condemns the excessive use of force and the use of live ammunition against Palestinians civilians in the OPT. As such, Al-Haq urges the Israeli authorities to carry out immediate, transparent and impartial investigations to clarify the circumstances that lead to the above killings with a view to prosecuting the soldiers responsible for any breaches of international law.
Furthermore, the government of Israel should take all necessary measures to guarantee the protection of the Palestinian civilian population against attacks by private persons and as such, must hold individuals accountable for their crimes and ensure effective law enforcement.