During 2015, 85% of all Palestinians who lost their lives at the hands of Israeli occupation forces did so as a result of extrajudicial executions; totaling 179 martyrs. This was a direct result of a new Israeli policy that has allowed the occupation forces and policy to execute Palestinians based on suspicions, rather than detain or simply neutralize them. Israeli forces even used this policy even when the lives of its soldiers were not in immediate danger. As a result, Israeli soldiers have repeatedly acted as judges and executioners in situations where deadly force was unnecessarily used.
The martyrs in many cases were abused, even after their initial shooting. For example, many martyr were allowed to bleed to death without being provided with any immediate medical care that would have saved their lives while other martyrs were intentionally denied care by Palestinian medics. Furthermore, some martyrs exhibited clear indications of torture before death. For example, Ma’moun al Khateem (16 years old), a resident of Bethlehem, exhibited clear signs of torture before death.
Israel has repeatedly denied family requests for autopsies on martyrs, mostly in fear of revealing the reasons behind or the necessity, or lack thereof, of their death. The family of Mu’taz Oisat was denied an autopsy request, when it become clear that their son was killed by Israeli police unnecessarily. That conclusion was reached by the Israeli prosecution, who declared that the autopsy would help indict the Israeli police responsible for his killing. Israel’s evasion of autopsies is clearly an attempt to conceal the truth behind its extrajudicial execution, as its judicial system still refuses to grant any of the Palestinian lawyers’ autopsy requests.
According to several testimonies that the CDA has gathered, most martyrs were shot from very close rage with the intent to kill, rather than neutralize, them. Moreover, most of these cases include a large number of rounds fired at each individual martyr. A clear example of this conclusion is the case of Isra’ Abed, 29, who was gravely injured in a shooting at the central bus station in Afoula on October 10th 2015. The police report, and a subsequent investigation report, concluded that Isra’ never intended to stab any bystanders. Nonetheless, police fired at her frequently, which almost resulted in her death. Another example, which many Palestinian human rights organizations often cited, is Fadi Awan (19). Fadi’s family, and video evidence proves, that he did not constitute any immediate danger to Israeli military personnel or civilians. Nonetheless, he was shot at the request of Israeli settlers, who can be seen and heard calling for his execution to police officers who, in turn, obliged the calls.
Amnesty International (AI) cited a more damning example of extrajudicial executions; that of Abdullah Shalalda. Mr. Shalalda was shot at a hospital while attending to his injured cousin. Israeli Special Forces abducted the cousin, Azzam, and fatally shot Abdullah in the neck and head areas, which indicates, as is the AI’s opinion, a clear intent to kill. Amnesty International concluded that this case, regardless of the reasoning behind it, constituted a clear violation of international law.
Many of these cases, such as Mr. Shalalda, are of martyrs being shot at close range by Israeli soldiers in civilian attire. These specialized units often conduct extrajudicial executions of Palestinians after they have been already subdued or even handcuffed. There is no use for such units except as a tool of extrajudicial execution.
These cases are not isolated or extraordinary, however. The Israeli government has legislated extrajudicial executions of Palestinian rock throwers and demonstrators. These structural perversions are also supported by a variety of Israeli politicians, who regularly express the preference of killing Palestinians over their detention. These sentiments extend to the Israeli cabinet as the views articulated by the minister of culture clearly indicate. The Minister of Culture called for the expansion of the policy of extrajudicial executions even where the lives of soldiers are not threatened or in the cases of suspicion. Making matters worse is Israel’s constant protection of assailants, as it has not, to the date of drafting this paper, presented charges against any soldiers who carried out such acts. On the contrary, Israel rewarded at least one sniper who is responsible for several Palestinian deaths at the Gosh Atsion intersection in Hebron.
This obviously criminal behavior is not sanctioned by international law and norms and is condemned by the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Convention of the ICC. International law considers extrajudicial executions to be a war crime, even if sanctioned by a local law, regardless of the urgency of each individual situation.
Examples of extrajudicial executions: