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Israel's Blatant Disregard of Palestinian Civilians' Lives

Sunday, 19 April 2015 00:11 - [6 - 12 April] - Ref.: 37/2015
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Jafar-awadOn Friday 10 April 2015 at approximately 2:00 pm, Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) shot and killed 28-year-old Ziyad Omar 'Awad who was attending his cousin's funeral. 

That day at approximately 1:30 pm, Jafar Ibrhaim Awad's funeral commenced from the Beit Ummar mosque in the centre of the town. Thousands of people participated in his funeral. Israeli forces have a military point set up at the entrance of the town, including a military watchtower. When the participants reached the entrance, some of the youth started throwing stones towards the military point while the rest of the participants walked towards the cemetery. The Israeli soldiers retaliated by heavily firing tear gas canisters at the funeral participants and stone throwers, preventing most of them from reaching the cemetery. 

Affidavit of Yousef Ahmad Abu Hashem - Beit Ummar - Hebron

ziad-awadDuring the confrontations that day, Yousef, 22, saw Ziyad 'Awad among the stone throwers. At that point, the soldiers opened fire heavily and indiscriminately towards the funeral procession. The participants dispersed fearing for their lives. 

Yousef then saw Ziyad, who was about 5 metres away, bending down trying to protect himself from the bullets. Ziyad then fell on his face, convulsed, and stopped moving. Yousef along with other men carried Ziyad to the ambulance which transferred him to Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. There were several other Palestinians injured as a result of the confrontations. Some residents said that there were soldiers hiding in a bus nearby who were shooting at the participants as well. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10599/2015)

The bullet went through the right side of Ziyad's waist and exited from the left side of his neck, damaging his internal organs. Ziyad was carried to an ambulance nearby. He was taken to Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron where he was declared dead shortly after his arrival. 

Affidavit of Ibrahim Yousef 'Awad - Beit Ummar - Hebron

Earlier that morning, Jafar, 23, died due to illnesses he suffered following his arrest in Israeli prisons. Jafar was a student at the Modern College in Ramallah. On 1 November 2013, the IOF raided his house in Beit Ummar and arrested him. According to his father, Ibrahim, 44, Jafar was interrogated for 37 days for more than 10 hours each day by the Israeli Intelligence. He was accused of belonging to the Islamic Jihad and starting an armed group. During his 15 months of detention, Jafar was brought before court 30 times. He was not able to attend some court sessions due to his worsening medical condition. 

Ibrahim states that his son, Jafar, was in good health before he was arrested. In May 2014, while in Eshel prison, Jafar had the flu and was taken to a clinic inside the prison. There, the doctor gave him a shot. The next day, Jafar started feeling pain and burning in his eyes. He began to have weakened vision, and would lose his vision for days at a time. It reached a point where other prisoners started taking care of him. Jafar's mother visited him four times in Eshel prison and told her husband, Ibrahim, that their son’s medical condition was difficult. She told him that Jafar could not see and other prisoners had to carry him. 

Despite his deteriorating medical condition, the Israeli prison administration did not provide Jafar medical assistance and instead placed him in solitary confinement for four days, fearing he had a contagious disease. He was only given painkillers and was not provided with medical care. 

A week after having been given the shot, Jafar also started developing problems with his thyroid gland which started secreting abnormally. Within a month, he lost 30 kilograms. He started suffering from diabetes,  weakening muscles and nervous and respiratory systems, accelerated heart beats, and hearing problems. In spite of all of this, Jafar was kept in the same prison and never transferred to a hospital or given proper treatment. 

He was later transferred to Ofer prison for three months then Al-Ramla prison where he was hospitalized at the prison's hospital. While in Ofer, his parents could not visit him due to Israeli prohibition. In Al-Ramla, Jafar's condition worsened. He developed acute pneumonia and was in a coma for a week. He was then transferred to Asaf Harofeh Hospital, north Al-Ramla.

On 22 December 2014, Ibrahim visited his son in the aforementioned hospital. Jafar's hands were handcuffed to his bed even though he was in coma and connected to breathing and feeding tubes. Three of his upper front teeth were broken at the hospital by the doctors to get the tubes in. 

In January 2015, Jafar's lawyer succeeded in making a deal with the Israeli Prosecution to release Jafar on a 40,000 shekel bail (approximately USD 10,060) and a five-year suspension. On 21 January 2015, Jafar  was released and transferred to Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. There he went into another coma for two days. The Asaf Harofeh Hospital refused to cooperate with the hospital in Hebron and provide them with Jafar's medical history. On 21 January 2015, Jafar was transferred to Al-Mutala' Hospital in Jerusalem where he was in coma for seven days. (Al-Haq Affidavit 10463/2015) Within days, Jafar felt better and was taken home. On 8 April, Jafar went into a coma and was taken to Al-Mezan Specialised Hospital in Hebron. He remained in the hospital and died on 10 April 2015 early morning. 

According to a medical report issued by Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron on 22 January 2015, Jafar was admitted to the mentioned hospital on 21 January 2015. He had "an old history of respiratory failure, pneumonia, and he was on a mechanical ventilator, also he had DM type 1, congenital cataract, hyperthyroidism and myopathy... Patient came to our hospital... and he was complaining of general weakness, muscle pain, slurred speech with blurring vision, difficulty to swallow food (both solid and liquid)". 

The deaths of cousins Jafar and Ziyad highlight Israel’s disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians. Al-Haq condemns the IOF's indiscriminate and excessive use of force and live fire against Palestinians which led to the killing of 28-year-old Ziyad. As an Occupying Power, Israel must abide by its obligations under international law by respecting the right to life of the occupied population. The right to life is guaranteed under international human rights law, including Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Moreover, under international standards, including the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, the use of firearms should be limited and exceptional, and guided by the principles of necessity and proportionality. Ziyad was lethally shot, even though he did not pose a serious threat to the soldiers by  throwing stones. As such, Al-Haq urges the Israeli authorities to carry out an immediate, transparent and impartial investigation to clarify the circumstances that led to the killing of Ziyad and hold accountable those responsible for breaches of law.

Furthermore, Al-Haq condemns Israel's disregard of prison regulations dealing with the provision of health care in contravention to the United Nations' Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoner and other provisions of international humanitarian law. The Israeli prison administration denied Jafar when he was in their custody proper medical care which led to complications in his health condition, jeopardizing his life and eventually killing him. 

The death of both Ziyad and Jafar could have been prevented had Israel adhered to its obligations as an Occupying Power under international humanitarian and human rights law.

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