On Friday noon, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded a child, and a journalist, during its attacks on a peaceful protest against settlement expansion in Beita, southeastern Nablus, northern West Bank. According to PCHR investigations, the victim was not involved in the clashes, as he was standing by an olive tree at least 150 meters from the area. Additionally, there were no threats to the lives of IOF soldiers during the protest, eliminating any justification to the murder crime. This crime is yet another stark example of IOF unjustifiable relaxed shooting standards in disregard for Palestinian civilians’ lives.
According to PCHR investigations, at approximately 13:00 on Friday, 6 August 2021, a peaceful protest took off from Beita village towards Mount Sbaih, where IOF established “Avatar” settlement outpost three months ago. The protestors held Palestinian flags and chanted against the occupation and settlers. Upon their arrival to Mount Sbaih, they found IOF troops stationed in the area; the soldiers fired at the protest and violent clashes erupted. A group of the protestors threw rocks at soldiers, who continued to fire live and rubber-coated bullets, as well as tear gas and stun grenades, at the protestors. The clashes continued until 15:17 and resulted in the death of a Palestinian civilian; a journalist and a child were wounded as well. The victim was identified as 37-year-old Imad Ali Mahmoud Dweikat from Beita village; he was shot with a live bullet in the chest and died after his arrival to Rafidia Hospital. Additionally, several other Palestinian civilians suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
Kifah ‘Enad ‘Abed Bani Shamsa said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:
“On 06 August 2021, I performed the Friday prayer in Beita village Park near al-Hawata area and Sabieh Mount, south of Beita village, southeast of Nablus. At approximately 13:30 following the prayer, a number of Palestinians who performed the Friday prayer in the village’s mosque flocked to the area below Sabeih Mount to protest against the establishment of “Avitar” settlement outpost. A group of the villagers and I distributed food and drinks to Palestinians participating in the protest, which developed to clashes with IOF. During the clashes, IOF fired sound bombs, teargas canisters and live and rubber bullets at protestors. At approximately 15:10, I withdrew from the area of clashes and headed towards the ambulances parking. When I was four meters away from the parking, I saw my friend Imad Ali Mahmoud Dweikat ( 37) standing under an olive tree, 150 meters away from the clashes. I headed to him and stood next to him. We talked with each other for 5 to 7 minutes. Suddenly, Imad fell beside me on his right side and flipped onto his abdomen. I saw blood come out of his mouth, so I knew that he was injured. I flipped him onto his back and put my hand on his chest to stop the bleeding, noting that I did not hear any gunshots at that time. Afterwards, ambulance officers came, put Imad on a stretcher, got him into the ambulance, and then took him to the field hospital in the village. After that, Imad was transferred to Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus. Few minutes later, he was pronounced dead. The villagers and I headed to the hospital to say goodbye to him.”
PCHR investigations show that IOF use excessive force and snipers to kill in a premeditated and unjustifiable manner. In a matter of a few weeks, IOF killed 6 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, during its attacks on peaceful protests against settlement expansion in Beita. This fact suggests that IOF’s conduct is in fact a systemic and political decision that is repeated on more than one occasion, eliminating any base for allegations of a security necessity or real threat.
The series of murder crimes committed by IOF constitute war crimes involving the Israeli political, security, and military levels.
PCHR reiterates its call on the international community to act immediately to stop the IOF crimes and renews its call on the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e. to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and to guarantee Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).