Israeli human rights group wants criminial investigation into Bethlehem deaths

Haaretz reported today that “The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has requested a criminal investigation into the deaths of four wanted Palestinian militants in Bethlehem on March 12, saying that the deaths during the Israel Defense Forces raid appeared to have been an execution. In a letter to the attorney general and the IDF Military Advocate General, the group says that its own investigation raised serious suspicions that the wanted men had not been killed during an exchange of fire or while trying to escape, as intimated by the IDF. B’Tselem said that if the men were in fact executed, the IDF is guilty of severely violating a High Court ruling stating that the state is prohibited from intentionally killing Palestinians if less harmful means of maintaining security are available, meaning arrest and due process … B’Tselem also maintained that their probe revealed that not only were the four victims needlessly executed, the troops also continued to shoot to ensure that they were dead. The rights group’s letter stated that once three of the men who were sitting in a parked vehicle had been shot to death, an IDF man approached the car and shot each of them again at close range. This man also shot the driver, who was lying wounded and unarmed outside the car, the letter said”.
The full text can be read here .

On the same subject, a YNet report had this sub-headline: “Human rights group asks attorney general, chief military advocate general to investigate killing of Muhammad Shahade, three other terror suspects in Bethlehem earlier March, claiming they were killed without resisting arrest, should have been brought to trial”. The text of the report says that “The men in question are Muhammad Shahade, Ahmad Balbul, Imad al-Kamal and Issa Marzouk Zawahara. According to the IDF, the four, who were killed in a raid on March 12, have been involved in planning and perpetrating terror attacks against Israel. B’Tselem claims that the IDF acted in violation of a High Court ruling, which states that suspects must not be killed when it is possible to arrest them and bring them to trial. The group requested that Mazuz and Mandelblit also examine the involvement of the chief of staff, the Central Command chief and commander of the Judea and Samaria Division in planning and authorizing the operation. An inquiry conducted by the group revealed that during the raid in Bethlehem, soldiers used automatic fire against the suspects, although the latter did not attempt to escape or respond with fire. The inquiry further indicated that after three of the suspects had already been shot, a soldier approached the vehicle in which they were sitting and shot each one of them at point-blank range. The driver, al-Kamal, had reportedly been shot while lying wounded and unarmed near the car. In its letter to Mazuz and Mandelblit, B’Tselem also brings the testimonies of Shahade’s wife and children, who claim that several days prior to his death, security forces demolished his house, an act the group says ‘raises heavy suspicion of retaliatory action and severe abuse of the family members’. B’Tselem asked that these claims would be looked into as well. The IDF has yet to respond to the allegations”. The YNet story is posted here .

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