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Undercover Israeli Military Forces Raid Hospital in Hebron, Kill One Palestinian and Arrest Another

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 20:00 Ref.: 122/2015
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Al-Haq field investigations reveal that the Undercover Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) have committed various crimes by raiding Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron and killing Abdallah Al-Shalaldeh, 27, while abducting his cousin Azzam Al-Shalaldeh, 21, on Thursday, 12 November 2015. This raid was captured on video tape.

On that day at approximately 2:45 am, about 21 Israeli soldiers disguised as Palestinian civilians broke into the Hospital, pretending to be accompanying a woman in labour. Israeli officials claim that the IOF raided the hospital in order to arrest Azzam Al-Shalaldeh who is accused of stabbing a settler on 25 October 2015 and who was hospitalised for injuries. They also claim that Abdallah, acting as a companion to his cousin Azzam, attacked the IOF while trying to arrest Azzam and hence, they shot him dead. However, witness statements collected by Al-Haq confirm that Abdallah did not attack the IOF, nor pose a threat.

 

 

Khaled Al-Suweiti, 50, a hospital patient and witness to the incident who shared Hospital room 207 with Azzam and three additional patients, recalls that five armed people dressed in civilian clothes broke into their room. Abdallah was in a bed when one of the undercover agents approached Khaled and pointed a gun to his head telling him they were "soldiers". By that time, Abdallah had gotten out of bed to stand, when he was immediately shot by the undercover IOF and fell to the floor. While lying on the ground, the IOF agents shot Abdallah several more times. They then abducted the wounded Azzam who was on another bed next to Khaled.

During the raid, the undercover agents threatened hospital staff, including nurses, at gunpoint and prohibited them from moving inside the hospital. 

Based on the facts provided above, the following violations committed by the IOF during the raid are in violation of international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) and may constitute war crimes:

  • Extrajudicial killing/ Wilful Killing: the IOF unlawfully shot and killed Abdallah Al-Shalaldeh who was unarmed and posed little threat to the trained undercover IOF. The use of live fire was avoidable. The continued shooting of Abdallah, even after he was prone on the ground, illustrates a clear intention to kill rather than counteract an alleged threat. 
  • Attacking a hospital without military necessity in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention: Article 18 of the Convention states that "civilian hospitals organised to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict". Such hospitals maintain this protection unless used "outside their humanitarian duties and acts harmful to the enemy". In the case of Al-Ahli Hospital, Azzam's presence in hospital to receive medical treatment does not breach the hospital's humanitarian work. Azzam, is a suspect who could have been apprehended through the use of police enforcement paradigm in a less reckless and violent manner, without endangering other civilians or violating the safety of the hospital as provided for under IHL.
  • Perfidy: The IOF agents were dressed in civilian clothes and pretended to be escorting a pregnant woman in order to attack, kill a man in hospital and arrest another. Feigning a civilian status in order to attack and kill constitutes an act of perfidy which is prohibited under IHL as per Article 37 of the Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions.[1]
  • Attacks against medical personnel and preventing them from practicing their duty: During the raid, two members of the undercover IOF pointed their guns at the hospital staff, including two nurses, and ordered them to remain silent and stay where they were. A third nurse was physically assaulted as he tried to inquire what was going on. According to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all measures of "intimidation" and "terrorism" are prohibited.

Al-Haq is gravely concerned about the IOF's use of undercover soldiers in raids on protected civilian structures, and strongly condemns the raid on Al-Ahli Hospital. Al-Haq demands prompt, impartial and effective investigations into the incident, and that all perpetrators are held accountable for their violation of the law.

The silence of the international community in the face of Israel's continued violations against Palestinians grants Israel continued impunity.



[1] This provision is part of customary international law.

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