On 27 August 2013, Palestinian security forces, including officers from the Palestinian preventive security, the Palestinian national security and the military intelligence raided ‘Askar refugee camp, east Nablus and arrested Yahya Hassan Abu Salim, 23, for allegedly distributing a statement criticising the Palestinian Authority’s decision to resume negotiations with Israel.
During the arrest operation, some residents of the refugee camp gathered around Yahya’s house, which is close to Mus’ab Bin ‘Omayr mosque, and threw stones at the security officers. The security officers threw stones in response and also randomly opened fire at the residents. As a result, two Palestinians that were watching the arrest were injured; Ibrahim ‘Abdul-Razaq Shkukani, 22, was shot in his right thigh and Amjad Falah ‘Odeh, 38, was declared dead an hour after sustaining an injury to his head. Al-Najah pharmacy, which is located near to the mosque, was also shot at, causing partial damage to the shop’s door.
This incident caused mass rage amongst residents of ‘Askar refugee camp, which led to public and private properties being vandalised in Nablus.
‘Ali Hassan Abu Salim
On Tuesday 27 August, at about 5:00 pm, ‘Ali, 26, was at work as a barber in Nablus, when he was informed by his family that his house in ‘Askar refugee camp was surrounded by Palestinian security forces. ‘Ali immediately headed to his house. When he arrived, approximately 15 minutes later, he saw four preventive security officers standing at the main door of the house. He also saw about 30 officers of the Palestinian preventive security, the Palestinian national security and the Palestinian military intelligence, along with seven Palestinian military vehicles, parked 50 metres to the west of the house. ‘Ali asked the security officers if they had a search warrant, but they referred him to the officer in charge of the operation, named Bilal ‘Amir. Bilal told ‘Ali that the search warrant was in the car, but never presented it to him. Bilal also said that they wanted to arrest his brother Yahya. Although ‘Ali offered to bring Yahya to the preventive security headquarters, Bilal refused and added that the security forces would not leave the camp without arresting Yahya. While ‘Ali was talking to Bilal, some residents of the camp were gathering on the main street, ten meters away from ‘Ali’s house. A few minutes later, four preventive security officers broke into the house and ‘Ali followed them. Two of the officers arrested Yahya, who was inside his bedroom, while the other two prevented ‘Ali from reaching his brother. One minute later, ‘Ali saw the security officers handcuffing Yahya and leading him outside. On their way out, the security forces shot live fire into the air. ‘Ali also recalls seeing Bilal throw stones in the direction of the residents that had gathered on the main street to the east the house and were throwing stones in protest against Yahya’s arrest. ‘Ali, who had by then been released by the security officers, saw the security forces shoot towards the residents of the camp from a distance of 50 metres. He recalls seeing Ibrahim Shkukani, who was on his way back from work and 15 metres away from ‘Ali, fall to the ground and scream for help as he was shot. ‘Ali, along with his cousin, helped to move Ibrahim to a safer place. ‘Ali then recalls seeing Amjad ‘Odeh lying on the ground and bleeding heavily from his head. At that point ‘Ali decided to return home.
At the time of writing, Yahya was still detained by the preventive security forces and prohibited from receiving family visits.
Ibrahim ‘Abdul-Razaq Shkukani
On the reporting day, at around 5:30 PM, Ibrahim left his workplace located on the main street of ‘Askar refugee camp, close to Mus’ab Bin ‘Omayr mosque, and headed towards the western side of the street, in the direction of Yahya Abu Salim’s residence, where a number of people had gathered. On the western side of the street, Ibrahim was able to see seven Palestinian military vehicles belonging to the preventive security forces and the Palestinian national security. Ibrahim also saw approximately 100 security officers all armed and shooting in the air, while young men from the refugee camp were throwing rocks at them. Ibrahim was suddenly hit by live ammunition in his right thigh, causing him to fall to the ground. While on the ground, Ibrahim recalls seeing a man in his thirties around four meters away from him lying on the street and bleeding heavily from his head. Ibrahim recognised the man as Amjad ‘Odeh. A few minutes after his injury, Ibrahim was taken to Rafidya hospital in Nablus city.
Once at the hospital, the doctors informed Ibrahim that a bullet had penetrated his right thigh. While being treated, Ibrahim recalls that Amjad ‘Odeh was brought to the same hospital and was placed in the bed next to him. The doctors were trying to revive him but he was not responding. Amjad was declared dead later due to a fatal injury to his head. Ibrahim was released the following day at 11:30 am. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8914/2013)
Muhammad Fakhri ‘Abdul-Nabi
On 27 August, at about 6:30 pm, while Muhammad, 35, was working with Amjad ‘Odeh in Amjad’s carpentry shop on the main street of ‘Askar refugee camp, he heard gunshots. Muhammad and Amjad went outside to check out the situation and they found around 200 young men and children from the refugee camp gathered on the main street, watching something on the western side of the road. Muhammad and Amjad walked a distance of 20 metres from the shop and saw clashes taking place between residents of the camp and Palestinian security forces. The Palestinian security forces were shooting from the top of a man-made dirt hill, about a metre and a half higher than street level, towards the people that gathered on the main street. At that time, the shooting intensified and was indiscriminate. Muhammad and Amjad were about 60 metres away from the security forces, but Amjad was suddenly hit with live fire and fell on his back to the ground. His head was bleeding heavily. Muhammad started screaming, asking for help and looking for someone with a car to take Amjad to hospital. Ten minutes later, Amjad was taken by a civilian car to a hospital in Nablus city. However, an hour later, he was announced dead at the hospital. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8913/2013)
Al-Haq expresses its grave concern regarding the Palestinian security forces violation of international and national law with respect to lawful arrest. The Security Forces’ disproportionate use of force caused the death of a Palestinian civilian and the injury of another. The finding of Al-Haq’s investigation proves that the Palestinian security forces’ arrest operation put the lives of Palestinian civilians at risk and failed to meet the international requirements for the legitimate use of force in policing operations. Al-Haq urges the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Attorney General and security officers to abide by their obligation to conduct immediate, transparent and impartial investigations into this arrest operation.