Friday, August 8, 2008

Rights group: Deaths of two Nilin boys "willful killing"

Yousef Amira (bottom right) at the funeral of 10-year-old Ahmed Mousa who was shot in the head and killed by an Israeli soldier. After the funeral, Israeli soldiers fired at a group of young men hitting Amira twice in the head. Amira immediately fell into a coma and died hours later, 30 July. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

Report, Al-Haq, 7 August 2008

"As a Palestinian human rights organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq is deeply disturbed by the excessive and disproportionate use of force employed by Israeli Border Police in the village of Nilin last week, resulting in the willful killing of two Palestinian children. Nilin has become a flashpoint for the excessive use of force by Israeli military forces against Palestinian civilians, and Israeli and international human rights activists demonstrating against the illegal construction of the Annexation Wall inside the OPT......

Since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, Israel's rules of engagement have promoted the arbitrary deprivation of life in that the regulations allow soldiers to open fire on Palestinian civilians even where their life is not threatened. Hence, the death of both of these children resulted from Israel's refusal to reconcile its rules of engagement with its international law obligations.

International law also requires impartial and independent investigations when there is prima facie evidence or credible allegations of unlawful killings. Despite the facts as presented above, an investigation by Israeli military authorities into Ahmad Musa's death resulted merely in the house arrest of a Border Policeman for five days. Israel has not yet seen fit to launch an investigation into Yousef Amira's death. The failure to hold the Border Police officers in question criminally accountable for the willful killing of these two children is reflective of Israel's policy since 2000 to not automatically launch independent, impartial investigations into Palestinian civilian deaths. The result, if not the intention, of this policy, is the cultivation of culture of rampant impunity amongst Israeli military forces. In this light, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention are legally obliged under Article 147 to search for and prosecute the officers responsible for the willful killings of Ahmad Musa and Yousef Amira."

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