On Thursday afternoon, 27 June 2019, al-‘Issawiyah village witnessed a series of grave violations committed by Israeli forces against the civilian residents. As a result, a Palestinian civilian was killed, and 35 civilians were wounded. Further, 19 civilians, including 3 children, were arrested and even tortured whole the way to the investigation centers. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns these violations and emphasizes that they are part of the Israeli forces’ collective punishment policy prohibited under the international human rights law. PCHR calls upon the international community to protect civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in general and in occupied East Jerusalem in particular, and ensure the implementation of its measures.
According to PCHR’s investigations, the series of incidents was as follows:
At approximately 21:00 on Thursday, 27 June 2019, an Israeli police officer opened fire at Mohamed Sameer Mohamed ‘Obaid (21) during clashes erupted between Palestinian young men and Israeli forces in al-‘Issawiyah village after the latter suppressed a protest organized by the residents at the village’s northern entrance. As a result, ‘Obaid was hit with 3 live bullets to the chest and lower limbs and then taken to Hadassah- Ein Karem Hospital, where medical sources declared his death few minutes after his arrival.
According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses’ testimonies, at approximately 18:30 on Thursday, dozens of al-‘Issawiyah village residents organized a protest at the northern entrance to the village against the Israeli policy of violence and collective punishment which targets the residents and against the Israeli forces and police’s daily incursions in addition to the demolition and evacuation notices concerning Palestinian lands in the village in favor of establishing a Talmudic Park. The Israeli forces surrounded the protest and forcibly dispersed the protesters. As a result, clashes broke out between dozens of Israeli soldiers and the village young men and then spread to Obeid neighborhood near its northern entrance. The protesters threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli soldiers and fired fireworks at them. Immediately, the Israeli soldiers heavily fired live ammunition in the area, wounding 3 young men, including Mohammed Samir ‘Obeid, who was hit with three bullets; one of which hit his heart. When many of the young men tried to rescue and evacuate ‘Obeid via a civilian vehicle for treatment, the Israeli forces moved into the village in large numbers and closed its roads and alleys. The Israeli soldiers detained ‘Obeid who was in a critical condition and then took him to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem. Around 21:30 on the same day, doctors at Hadassah declared his death., Omar Attiyah, an activist in al-Issawiya village and an eyewitness to the injury of the young Obeid, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:
“After the al-Maghreb (Sunset) prayer in the mosque, and while I was with resident of the village, police were present all over the area. During our attempt to go to see what was going on, one of the police officers pulled his gun and fired 3 bullets at Mohammed Samir ‘Obeid, and then I heard screams of young men from all sides. At that moment, I felt something hit my face and then saw blood flowing from my head.” ‘Attiyah added: “After the injury of ‘Obeid, the young men were able to rid him of the soldiers, and drove him in a private vehicle for medical treatment. However, the Israeli troops stormed the village in large numbers and closed roads and alleys, and managed to kidnap the young man who was bleeding.” Attiyah noted that the shooter of ‘Obeid was one of the police officers and was only few meters away from him.
After the medical staff at the Hadassah Hospital declared the death of ‘Obeid, the Israeli forces attacked the young men and patients inside the Emergency Department in the hospital and prevented his family from entering the Emergency Room in an attempt to ask about their son and get information about his condition. During full closure of the vicinity of the hospital, the Israeli soldiers managed to take his corpse out of the hospital via back rooms and doors. Following the declaration of his death, a number of young men from neighborhoods and villages in the city of Jerusalem outraged and rose up in response to his death. Jerusalem’s neighborhoods witnessed sporadic confrontations, where the young men threw Molotov cocktails and fireworks at settlement outposts and soldiers who were deployed in large numbers in the neighborhoods of the occupied city. The Israeli forces then fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protesters to disperse them, wounding 20 of them with rubber bullets and others suffering tear gas inhalation, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS).
On Friday morning, 28 June 2019, hundreds of Palestinian civilians gathered in the vicinity of al-Arba’een mosque in the village of al-‘Issawiya and then marched the village streets to protest the killing of ‘Obeid and to demand that the Israeli authorities return his body. The Israeli forces moved into the village and hundreds of soldiers stationed in the streets and alleys. They then started firing rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and teargas canisters at the protesters to disperse them. The young men threw stones and bottles in addition to fireworks at the soldiers, who continued to fire heavily rubber bullets. As a result, around 13 protesters were wounded with rubber bullets to the face, the lower and upper limbs while dozens of them sustained fractures and bruises as said by the eyewitnesses. The Israeli forces arrested Sa’ed Oussamah Dari, 19, and Jamal Mohammed Dari, 22, in front of their houses for no reason, and detained them inside the village cemetery. They then took them to an interrogation center.
On Saturday morning, 29 June, the Israeli forces moved into the village and launched a large-scale campaign of arrests targeting 17 residents, including 3 children, amid repressive measures as most of the arrestees were severely beaten. During her visit to the arrestees in the interrogation centers, Attorney Razan Al-Jabe’a reported that most of them were beaten and pushed while being detained in the police vehicles and inside the detention centers. She added that she noticed signs of torture on them. Furthermore, the Israeli forces too much tied their hands with plastic wires or steel cuffs and even blindfolded their eyes while some were prevented from wearing their clothes during their detention. She pointed out that the arrestees were transferred to the Barid police station on Salah al-Din Street, in the center of occupied East Jerusalem, and, “Muskubiya” Center in West Jerusalem.
PCHR is following up with deep concern the deterioration of the situation in the oPt, and considers extremely serious to use lethal force against unarmed civilians participating in peaceful and nonviolent protesters in violation of the international humanitarian law. PCHR condemns the Israeli forces’ use of disproportionate, excessive and lethal force against the protesters. PCHR believes this is as a result of the green light given to Israel following the United States’ declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocation of the US Embassy to it.
In light of the above, PCHR calls upon the international community UN bodies to intervene to stop the Israeli escalating crimes and violations and to provide international protection for the Palestinians in the occupied territory. PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 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.”