Palestinian Civilian Shot Dead and Another Wounded by IOF in Ramallah
In new crime of excessive use of lethal force, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded another on Sunday, 22 March 2020, as IOF opened fire at their vehicle by the entrance to Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah.
According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 22:00 on Sunday, IOF stationed at the entrance to Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah, fired live bullets at a Palestinian vehicle carrying 2 civilians while coming from Ramallah. As a result, the driver was killed while the passenger was wounded. The wounded civilian managed to flee and go to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. It turned out later that he sustained shrapnel wounds throughout his body.
IOF surrounded the vehicle for over half an hour while the driver was inside. Afterwards, an Israeli ambulance arrived and took the driver to an Israeli hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. The civilian killed was later identified as Sufian Nawaf ‘Abed al-Haleem al-Khawaja (31), and the wounded was his cousin Mohamed Bader al-Khawaja (20). They were returning from the outskirts of Ramallah after buying foodstuffs for their families, in preparation to implement the Palestinian Authority decision to abide all citizens to their homes in a measure to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
IOF claimed that they opened fire towards the suspects after they hurled a rock at them, but information obtained by PCHR’s fieldworker pointed out that when the two civilians arrived at Ni’lin village entrance, they saw an Israeli police vehicle and for fear of being stopped because their car was illegal, they turned their vehicle and made their way towards al-Mohalhel road. This road is designated to enter the village, despite that, IOF opened fire at their vehicle, killing one of them and wounding the other without any justification as they posed no threat or danger to the Israeli soldiers and police officers’ lives. It should be noted that IOF still holds Sufian al-Khawaja’s body.
PCHR strongly condemns IOF continued use of excessive force that led to the killing of al-Khawaja and wounding another civilian, which provides further evidence of the Israeli doctrine of excessive lethal force without the presence of any threats to Israeli soldiers’ lives.
PCHR is gravely concerned over the ongoing IOF crimes and attacks on Palestinian civilians and their properties, including incursions into Palestinian villages and cities without regard for the state of emergency decaled in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to avoid the spread of COVID-19, which infected 1,283 Israelis to date.
PCHR also reiterates its call upon the international community to act immediately to stop the Israeli crimes and its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations 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 regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.