Three Children Killed in Israeli Targeted Assassination
Open Letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur
on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
AL-HAQ OPEN LETTER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8 March 2006
Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
Palais des Nations
Avenue de la Paix 8-14
1211 Geneva 10
Dear Dr. Alston,
Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organisation based in Ramallah, writes to express its deep concern over the intensified Israeli practice of extra-judicially executing Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). According to information gathered by Al-Mezan, a human rights organisation operating in Gaza, at approximately 4:50 pm on Monday, 6 March 2006, an Israeli aircraft carried out a missile strike against Munir Mohammad Sukkar and Ashraf ‘Ali Shallouf, alleged members of Islamic Jihad, who were travelling in a beige Peugeot van, killing them both instantly. The attack, which clearly constitutes an extra-judicial execution, took place in Salah al Din street in the residential Toufah neighbourhood of Gaza City, at a busy time of the day. Of grave concern is the fact that the strike also killed three nearby children Ahmad Naser Sweisi, 15 years, Mahmoud Ahmad al-Batsh, 15 years, and Ra‘ed Ahmad al-Batsh, 11 years. In addition, approximately 12 people were wounded, including six children.
This extrajudicial execution forms part of an on-going Israeli policy of targeted assassinations of wanted Palestinians. As you know, the policy was briefly suspended from February of 2005, but was officially resumed in June of the same year, and has been significantly intensified since early 2006.
These extrajudicial executions and the policy of targeted assassinations are actively supported at the highest levels of the Israeli government. Following the most recent targeted assassination, Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz announced that the policy of assassinations is "correct" and will continue, despite the civilian casualties. These comments reflect acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert‘s alarming declaration in early March that, "There are no restraints on security forces to use any means necessary to stop terror attacks."
The policy of targeted assassination shows the blatant contempt of the Israeli authorities for fundamental principles of international law. Foremost amongst these is the right to life enshrined in numerous human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Carrying out such attacks in a crowded residential area like the Toufah neighbourhood of Gaza City, at a busy time of the day, further violates the international legal principle of proportionality. Finally, targeted assassinations are a form of wilful killing, carried out in non-combat situations, amounting to war crimes.
As a result of the determination of the Israeli authorities to continue this illegal policy, Al-Haq anticipates further destabilisation of the already volatile political situation in the OPT. It notes with concern that in the summer of 2005, prior to the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, the Israeli authorities intensified targeted assassinations in the Gaza Strip. In light of recent Israeli statements projecting an additional partial withdrawal from some areas of the West Bank, Al-Haq is deeply concerned that Israel might further intensify its policy of targeted assassinations in the West Bank in coming months.
In light of the above, Al-Haq urgently requests that you conduct an official country visit to Israel and the OPT, and intervene with the Israeli authorities in order to put an end to the policy of targeted assassinations. Al-Haq remains at your disposal, should you require any further information.
Acting General Director