During its investigation, Human Rights Watch found serious violations of international humanitarian law. The organization documented fifty-two Palestinian deaths in the camp and its environs caused by the fighting. At least twenty-two of those confirmed dead were civilians, including children, physically disabled, and elderly people. At least twenty-seven of those confirmed dead were suspected to have been armed Palestinians belonging to movements such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades. Some were members of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) National Security Forces or other branches of the PA police and security forces. Human Rights watch was unable to determine conclusively the status of the remaining three killed, among the cases documented.
Because of the large number of homes in the refugee camp that were demolished by the IDF, it is possible that the total number of casualties will climb somewhat, though not dramatically, as recovery efforts proceed. Corpses continued to be recovered on a daily basis in the camp as Human Rights Watch was carrying out its research in the camp, but residents in the camp had already identified those persons as killed before their bodies were recovered. Because the IDF has not made available the full list of names of those arrested during the operation, some families are unsure whether relatives have been arrested by the IDF or have been killed in the camp.
It does not appear that there are larger numbers of "missing" persons from the camp. The residents of the camp gave consistent lists of the known or suspected dead in the camp, and those lists did not grow significantly while Human Rights Watch conducted research in the camp.
Some of the cases documented by Human Rights Watch amount to unlawful and deliberate killings. However, the organization did not find evidence of systematic summary executions.
During its investigation, however, Human Rights Watch documented unlawful and deliberate killings, and the killing or wounding of protected individuals as a result of excessive or disproportionate use of force. Such cases are in violation of the international humanitarian law prohibitions against "willful killing" of noncombatants. The organization also found instances of IDF soldiers deliberately impeding the work of medical personnel and preventing medical assistance to the wounded with no apparent or obvious justification of military necessity. Such cases appear to be in violation of the prohibition against "willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health."19
At least four persons were killed by the IDF because they were outside during curfews or walked in areas declared "closed" by the Israeli army. Such use of lethal force to enforce curfews or "closed" areas is a widespread practice by the IDF. The use of lethal force against civilians who do not abide by curfews or are found in "closed" areas is unjustified, and a violation of the international humanitarian law provisions prohibiting the targeting of civilians. International humanitarian law requires that the IDF use less lethal means to enforce its curfews and "closed" areas.
In addition, the dimensions of the destruction and the temporal sequence of the demolition of homes and property found by Human Rights Watch researchers suggest that these were carried out unlawfully and wantonly and did not meet the strict requirements of military necessity and proportionality.
There is strong prima facie evidence that in some of the cases documented grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, or war crimes, were committed. Such cases warrant specific criminal justice investigations with a view to identifying and prosecuting those responsible.
Human Rights Watch researchers also identified other serious violations of the laws and customs of war, such as the practice of shielding, in which Palestinian civilians were used to screen Israeli soldiers from return fire. Shielding, while not a "grave breach" of international humanitarian law, is nonetheless absolutely prohibited and warrants investigation.
Every case listed below requires thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation. The results of the investigation should be made public, and where wrongdoing is found, those responsible should be held accountable. Israel has the primary obligation to carry out such an investigation, but the international community also has a responsibility to ensure that the investigation takes place.
Shooting of Hani Abu Rumaila, April 3
The Israelis had just arrived and Hani wanted to open the main gate to the house. He wanted to see what was going on outside. Then, [as he opened the gate], they [IDF] shot him in the leg. He started screaming. When he tried to stand up and run back home, they shot him in the abdomen and chest.
A nurse living nearby tried to come to Hani's rescue when she heard the screaming, but was herself killed by the IDF soldiers (see below). The family then called an ambulance, which removed Hani's body to the hospital. Because of the intense fighting, Hani's family could not make their way to the hospital for funeral arrangements, and Hani was buried in a temporary communal grave at the back of the hospital.20 Hani was unarmed at the time of the killing, and was not a member of any Palestinian militant group, according to his family. Normally, when a Palestinian militant is killed, family take some pride in the fact that the dead relative was in an armed group opposing the occupation, and make no effort to deny the militant history of the deceased.
The Abu Rumaila family showed Human Rights Watch the nearby home that had been occupied by IDF soldiers during the Jenin offensive and from which they believed IDF soldiers had fired on Hani Abu Rumaila. That home is located about one hundred meters down the street from the Abu Rumaila home, diagonally across the street, and had a clear line of sight to the gate of the Abu Rumaila home where Hani was shot.
Shooting of nurse Farwa Jammal, April 3
Farwa and Rufaida Jammal were awakened early in the morning of April 3 by loud explosions and the screams of Hani Abu Rumaila, who had been severely wounded in their neighborhood (see above). Farwa put on her white nurse's uniform, marked with the red crescent symbol (the Muslim equivalent of the red cross), and exited the house together with her sister Rufaida, intending to help the wounded man.
According to Rufaida, they met a small group of unarmed young Palestinian men outside their home who were also trying to assist the wounded Hani, and stopped to discuss with them the best way to proceed. IDF soldiers opened fire on the group, wounding Rufaida and killing her sister Farwa:
Before I finished talking with the men, the Israelis started shooting. I got hit with a bullet in my upper thigh. I fell down and broke my knee. My sister [Farwa] tried to come and help me. Then, she was shot in her abdomen. I told her I was wounded, and she replied that she was also wounded. I repeated the shahada [the Muslim declaration of faith, customarily recited by Muslims who believe they are about to die]. Then [Farwa] was shot in the heart.... The Israeli soldiers were very near to us22 and could hear and see us. We were clearly visible to them. They kept shooting at us, and I got another bullet in my other leg.23
Because of the intense Israeli shooting, no help could reach the wounded Rufaida and the dying Farwa. Rufaida's forty-year-old husband was at the gate of their home, but was unable to reach his wounded wife. Taysir Damaj, Rufaida's husband, explained how he was shot at by the Israeli soldiers as he tried to rescue his wife, and how she finally had to crawl to safety under a hail of bullets:
I was standing by the window and heard my wife calling for an ambulance. I went out, trying to get some help to them. They [the IDF] were shooting at me, so I lay down in the street. I crawled back to a car parked outside my house. They shot a bomb at me that hit the car. The explosion hit the car and I ran back home. They shot again at me, and then I entered my compound and closed the gate.
My wife crawled back to the main gate. I watched from the window. Then I went out-shooting was continuing the whole time. I pulled her inside our home. I tried to stop the bleeding as best as I could, she was bleeding heavily. Then, one half hour after we called, an ambulance finally arrived and took her to the hospital.24
Rufaida Jammal was adamant that there was no Palestinian fire in the immediate vicinity where she and her sister were wounded, and that they were "far away from the battle" between IDF soldiers and Palestinian militants.25 The wounding of a member of the medical personnel away from the combat area requires a war crimes investigation.
The Shooting of Civilian Imad Musharaka, April 3
Fadil Musharaka attempted to call an ambulance to remove Zubeidi's body, but was unable to get through to the hospital on his mobile phone. Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Imad Musharaka, an unarmed civilian, attempted to reach Zubeidi's body and pull it out of the street. Fadil watched as the IDF soldiers shot his brother Imad: "Imad tried to pull Ziad's body out of the street, but [the IDF soldiers] shot him in the leg. When he tried to stand up again, he was shot in the head. After one half hour, the ambulance came, and took both bodies to the hospital. Imad was a civilian, he was watching there with me."27 The shooting in broad daylight of an unarmed civilian, Imad Musharaka, requires a war crimes investigation. Establishing the true circumstances of the death of Palestinian militant Ziad Zubeidi warrants a separate investigation.
Shooting of Muhammad Hawashin, April 3
Just before Alia Zubeidi and Muhammad Hawashin reached the hospital, they found an earthen mound erected by Palestinian militants in an attempt to delay the entry of IDF forces into the camp. They climbed over the mound, and then IDF shooting erupted in their direction, fatally wounding Muhammad Hawashin:
I passed across [the earthen mound], then I heard shooting. The bullets were flying between me and the two boys.... Two meters later, [Muhammad] raised his hand and cried for help. I could do nothing for the boy. I ran to the ambulance, and told them to forget about my dead son and help the boy.... They were afraid because the soldiers shot at anyone who tried to pass the earthen barrier. Then the ambulance crew went to get the boy, but he was already dead. He was shot twice in the face.29
At the time of the shooting, Muhammad Hawashin and the women and children who were with him had essentially exited the Jenin refugee camp, and were walking in an open area behind the hospital. The use of live fire, directed at a group of women and children located outside the active combat zone, cannot be justified on grounds of military necessity, constitutes a serious violation of the rules of war, and requires in-depth investigation.
Shooting of Ahmad Hamduni, April 3
After the men finished their evening prayers, Israeli soldiers suddenly attacked the home. Raja Tawafshi recalled how his neighbor was killed by the soldiers soon after they entered:
After I had finished praying, they [the soldiers] shot one door of my gate off and it flew into the room. I stood up and they shot at me. I raised my hands. They shot a sound bomb [concussion grenade] inside and the soldiers came inside with their guns. I stood up with my hands up, and [Ahmad Hamduni] was behind me.
Because he is an old man, [Ahmad Hamduni] hunches over. The soldiers were worried [about the hunch in his back] and shot him immediately. I told them, he is an old man, and I tried to touch him. Then the soldiers told me to go out of the room.30
The soldiers proceeded to search the entire three-story home, pushing Tawafshi in front of them at gunpoint: "The soldier put the gun to my back and they searched the house, pushing me in front of them."31 While the soldiers were inspecting the top story with Tawafshi, an IDF missile hit the floor, narrowly missing the group. The soldiers then returned downstairs, placed Tawafshi's hands in plastic cuffs, and tied him to a chair next to the body of his neighbor, which they had covered with a carpet. Tawafshi explained how he was kept in the chair all night:
They tied my hands and feet and put me in the seat. They tied me to the seat with plastic tape, wrapping it around my chest and legs. They brought a blanket and put it over me. I was thirsty and asked for some water in Hebrew. They said no. Later, I needed to go to the toilet. They asked me to shut up. I was suffering, but nobody helped me. I was in the chair from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Then they came, cut me loose and took the blanket.32
The soldiers then took Tawafshi out of the home at gunpoint and demanded that he check the homes of four neighbors before they finally allowed him to go home (see below for a further discussion of the coerced use of civilians during the Jenin operation).
The Murder of Palestinian Militant Munthir al-Haj, April 3
Hisham Samara, a hospital cook, was working in the upstairs kitchen at 11:30 a.m. when he heard someone in pain shouting for help.33 Samara called two nurses to come with him, and went to the mosque to locate the sound's source. Confronted by broken glass and bullets, they kept on their shoes and crossed to the mosque's windows. There they saw al-Haj, lying at the foot of the mosque steps. An IDF tank was in the street, some six meters away.
Samara and the nurses attempted to reach the wounded man, some three to four meters from the mosque's external door.
We took one of the nurse's scarves and made a white flag. I wound the white flag on a stick. I opened the door, and put my arm with the stick and the scarf outside of the mosque door. While I had my arm out, there was the sound of a big explosion-so loud I could not hear anything.34
Samara did not know what caused the sound, but drew his hand in and waited. Some fifteen minutes later, Samara and the nurses tried again. This time, however, they were forced back by fire from the tank.
As I stuck my hand out the tank began to fire in bursts of bullets, it was very heavy. Of course we tried to speak with the wounded man during all of this and try to get him to crawl towards us. Sometimes he would say, "I can not hear you;" other times he would say, "I can't, I can't." Both his hands were broken, he couldn't move them. There was a lot of blood on the stairs.35
For the next one and a half to two hours, hospital staff made at least three attempts to reach al-Haj, who gradually pulled himself to the mosque steps. Two doctors, dressed in white and carrying white flags, attempted to exit the mosque doors. They were forced back by another loud explosion. Others tried to pass the wounded man a rope so he could pull himself to safety, but were thwarted when he could not move his hands sufficiently to grasp the rope. Neighboring families called the hospital staff to beg them to take action; some tried to reach the man themselves, but gave up after facing tank fire. Hospital staff called the International Committee of the Red Cross and human rights organizations to press them to intervene. Samara's account was corroborated in a separate interview by Dr. Mahmud Abu Aleih, the hospital internist. "It was terrible for us, not being able to help him," Abu Aleih told Human Rights Watch. "This is supposed to be our job."36
Their efforts were to no avail. By this time al-Haj was lying on his side on the mosque steps with his head resting on his hands. According to Samara, al-Haj was fired at from the immediate direction of the tank. He told Human Rights Watch:
The tank fired at him and the bullets entered his back. It was a spray of fire, but it was not heavy tank fire. It sounded like the fire from an M-16, a hand weapon. We are sure it was from the tank because he was directly in front of it.37
After he was shot and no longer armed, al-Haj became hors de combat, meaning that he was no longer taking an active part in the fighting. Wounded combatants who are no longer taking part in fighting should not be denied medical care, nor are they legitimate military targets. The killing of al-Haj after he was wounded and no longer armed amounts to a case of willful killing, a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, and, as such, a war crime.
Concerned about the damage reported to his home by his wife, Atiya decided to go check for himself, despite the protests of his wife. Two minutes later, Hala' heard her husband calling for help with some difficulty. Hala' and her children ran up to the room, and found Atiya standing, seriously wounded. Atiya looked at his wife and children before starting to collapse, and his wife then noticed the gunshot wound to his head. Human Rights Watch researchers examined the room where Atiya was shot, and found that the nearby home that had been occupied by IDF soldiers during the Jenin operation-the same home that was the source of the firing that killed Atiya's son Hani on April 3-was clearly visible from where Atiya had been standing when he was shot. The trajectory of the bullets, indicated by following the path of the bullets through the window into the wall behind Atiya, pointed directly to the home that had been occupied by the IDF.
Hala' called an ambulance, but the IDF soldiers did not allow the ambulance to proceed:
I started screaming, asking anyone to call an ambulance. The ambulance came, but it was prevented from reaching us. Atiya was still breathing at the time. But there was no aid, no ambulance. I couldn't go outside because there were Israeli snipers and tanks everywhere. All this time we were just crawling.39
Atiya died from the gunshot wound within the hour:
After all my trials trying to get anyone to help, I went back to the body. I started checking, and made sure he died. I closed his eyes and straightened his hands. I closed the door because I didn't want my children to see their father dead. He had promised to buy the children some milk before he died, and they kept asking where the milk was.... I spent the whole night with the children in one room. I couldn't close my eyes. At midnight, I went to the room and put a blanket over him.40
Hala' and her three children were still trapped in their home, unable to flee because of the fighting. After her husband had been shot on Friday afternoon, Hala' broke a window at the rear of her home and considered jumping out, but was warned by her neighbors that the window was too high from the ground. On Saturday morning, she tied some sheets together and lowered her seven-year-old son to the ground to go seek help. The boy went to inform their relatives of the death, and Atiya's elderly mother came wailing to the house, ignoring the danger, screaming "Hani! Atiya!" The family was forced to remain in the house for five more days before the IDF announced that all civilians should leave the area because they were about to bomb the camp. The family left the home. The next day, one week after Atiya was killed, an ambulance was finally able to recover the body.
Shooting of Abd al-Nasr Gharaib, April 5
On Friday at 2:00 p.m., we were surprised that the house next to us was occupied by Israeli soldiers. They went inside and started shooting randomly. I wanted to close the door to make sure that the children would not go outside. They shot me with a smoke bomb.41
Mahmud Gharaib was wounded in the foot by the bomb, but the family could not leave the home because of the heavy shooting outside. Finally, they broke a window in the rear of the home and evacuated the wounded man through the window. He remained at another home deeper inside the refugee camp for a week without any medical assistance, causing his wound to become seriously infected.42
Abd al-Nasr Gharaib's family evacuated their home together with their grandfather, but Abd al-Nasr decided to remain behind to look after the home. On Sunday, April 7, Abd al-Nasr's eight-year-old son returned to the home to check on his father and found him shot dead:
I saw my father on the floor.... We found the whole house destroyed inside. My father was in the front room. He had three bullets in his chest and one in the head. My uncle is a doctor. He called an ambulance. He tried to come and take the body, but couldn't reach us. A lot of tanks had surrounded the hospital and he couldn't leave. We left the body for four or five days.43
A next-door neighbor told Human Rights Watch that Abd al-Nasr Gharaib had been shot by the IDF: "They [the IDF] were telling him [Abd al-Nasr Gharaib] to come out. Before he could come out, they shot him.... We heard him screaming twice and then it got quiet."44
Bombing Death of `Afaf Disuqi, April 5
Aisha Disuqi, the thirty-seven-year-old sister of fifty-two-year-old `Afaf Disuqi, explained how the latter went to the door to check on the smoke and to open it for the soldiers, and was killed in the explosion that followed:
We were inside in a room and saw some smoke. The soldiers were asking us to open the door. My sister `Afaf went to the door to open it, and while she was opening it, the bomb exploded. When the bomb exploded, we were all screaming, calling for an ambulance. The soldiers were laughing. We saw the right side of her face was destroyed, and the left side of her shoulder and arm was also wounded. She was killed that first moment.46
Asmahan Abu Murad, who was outside with the soldiers in front of the door, corroborated in a separate interview with Human Rights Watch that the soldiers were laughing after the killing of `Afaf Disuqi: "After the explosion, I heard her sisters scream for an ambulance. The soldiers were laughing. Then they told me to go back inside."47 After the explosion, the soldiers did not enter the Disuqi home. They told Asmahan Abu Murad that she could go home, and the soldiers then left the scene. During the time of the incident, there was no active combat or firing in the neighborhood. The remorseless murder of `Afaf Disuqi, an unarmed civilian, constitutes a war crime.
`Afaf Disuqi's family took her body inside the home, and repeatedly tried to get an ambulance: "We had a mobile but could only receive incoming calls. Every time someone called, we asked for an ambulance, but it was prohibited [for the ambulances to move]."48 The body remained at the home from Friday until the next Thursday, when the family was able to move the body to the hospital.
Shooting of Abd al-Karim Sa`adi and Wadah Shalabi, April 6
The seventeen people staying at the Shalabi home all went over to the Sa`adi home, and both Abd al-Karim Sa`adi and Wadah Shalabi were carrying infants in their hands. When the group arrived at the Sa`adi home, the soldiers told the men to give the infants to their wives and ordered all the women and children to go inside the house. Remaining outside where Abd al-Karim Sa`adi, Wadah Shalabi, and Wadah's sixty-three-year-old father, Fati Shalabi.
Fati Shalabi, the only survivor of the incident, explained how his son and his neighbor were soon shot down by the IDF soldiers, apparently because they mistook a back brace Abd al-Karim Sa`adi was wearing for an explosive belt:
They asked us to lift our shirts, to check for explosives. We were facing the soldiers, there was one and one half meters between me and my son [and Abd al-Karim] and two meters between us and the soldiers. The soldiers were standing a bit above us.
When they asked us to lift our shirts, they noticed something on Abd al-Karim's body. They were talking to each other, saying, "What is this, what is this?" Abd al-Karim's sister later told me that he had some brace for pain. The soldiers were named Gaby and David. Gaby said, "Kill them, kill them!"-I understand Hebrew because I worked twenty years in Israel....
They started shooting and we fell to the ground. It was about 6:15 p.m. The ground was not flat, it was on an incline. The blood of the others was leaking down between my legs. I was all the way on the left side, and the blood was soaking my clothes, so they thought that I was dead. Two soldiers shot at us, but Gaby was in charge.
After they shot us, they stayed for more than one hour, searching the houses. They walked over us-we were just in between the houses. I made myself as I was dead.49
Fati Shalabi remained motionless until the soldiers left, and then made sure that the two men were dead before running home. He hid in his home until 4:00 a.m., when he rejoined his family at the Sa`adi home. They covered the bodies of the men with a blanket, and the bodies remained there until April 17, when hospital workers could finally reach them and bury them at the hospital.
Fathiya Sa`adi, Abd al-Karim's thirty-year-old sister, corroborated the account of Fati Shalabi during a separate interview with Human Rights Watch. Fathiya recounted how a large group of soldiers had entered their home, and then ordered the Shalabi family to come over to the Sa`adi home. She heard the gunshots from inside the home:
Wadah and Abd al-Karim were holding Wadah's babies, and the soldiers told them to give the babies to their mothers. All of the women entered into one room. Some soldiers were still inside and some outside. Then we heard the sound of shooting outside-the Israeli soldiers [inside the house] thought some resistance had attacked and took up positions inside the house.... One of the soldiers started shouting, "David, David," and something I did not understand.
After the shooting, the soldiers inside were nervous, and refused to allow any of the family members to go near the area where the two men had been shot. They refused to allow one of the children to use the bathroom near the shooting area. When the soldiers left, they locked the whole family into one room and ordered them not to go outside: "They were being gentle with us, because they knew what they had done. They closed the doors and windows, and told us to go inside one room. They asked us to go inside and lock the door. On the outside, the soldiers attempted to tie the door close with a piece of rope they found."50
After escaping from the room, Fathiya Sa`adi found her brother and neighbor dead outside: "I took the head of Abd al-Karim and there was a big hole in his head. Wadah also had a big hole in his head."51
Shooting of Munir Wishahi and Mariam Wishahi, April 6
Their eighteen-year-old son Munir Wishahi saw the tanks coming towards their home. He became afraid and decided to run away: "When he saw the tanks coming and all of the shooting, he said, `They are going to kill us,' and ran outside the house." Soon after Munir left the house, he was shot by the advancing Israeli forces. His parents heard him yell out, "I'm wounded!" and then saw him being brought to the hospital by local youngsters. Munir died on the way to the hospital.52
After Munir was shot, the IDF continued to shell the Wishahi home for at least thirty minutes, although its only inhabitants were the elderly couple. Then Mariam was wounded when a tank shell hit the kitchen, spraying her with shrapnel and causing a serious head wound. For the next day and a half, the elderly Issa Wishahi desperately attempted to obtain medical assistance for his severely wounded wife-the couple had been married for thirty-eight years and had ten children. However, the Israeli soldiers repeatedly prevented ambulances from reaching the home, despite the fact that the Wishahi home is located only a few hundred meters from Jenin's main hospital, and Mariam died of her wounds around 11:00 p.m. the next day (see below, "Lack of Access to Medical Care"). The death of Mariam Wishahi appears to have been due to the deliberate denial of medical assistance and as such warrants investigation as a possible war crime. Information about the death of Munir Wishahi suggests he was shot while running away unarmed and requires investigation.
Bombing of Yusra Abu Khurj, April 6
I was in the first floor apartment. When the missile hit, we felt it, and we came to the third floor and saw the missile there [it had come through the ceiling] and we knew that Yusra must be dead. I came upstairs, to try to be sure, but we couldn't come in because the helicopters were still in the sky, so we went back downstairs. The fifth day of the attack, soldiers occupied the first three floors of the building, we asked to come take her body, to send it to the hospital, but they refused to let us. 53
Only on April 17 could the family remove the decomposed body of Yusra for burial. When Human Rights Watch viewed the room, damage indicated that the projectile had entered through the window and passed through the floor to the apartment below. Abd al-Karim Khorj told Human Rights Watch that although there were fighters in the neighboring district of Hawashin area, there was no activity at the time.54
According to the family, there were no Palestinian fighters in or near their house at the time the helicopter fired on the home. Human Rights Watch researchers closely inspected the Abu Khorj home, and did not find any suggestion, from sandbags or spent cartridges for example, that Palestinian militants had used the home. The killing of an unarmed civilian in a situation where no combat was taking place requires a war crimes investigation.
Shooting of Nizar Mutahin, April 6
The soldiers separated the women and the men. They asked the men to take off their upper clothes and put their hands on their heads. Nizar didn't wait until they took off their clothes, he tried to run away because he was afraid. They immediately shot him. He tried to run and was shot in the head.56
It is unclear why Nizar tried to run away. Given the fact that the IDF had previously checked all of the men in the home and had spent the night in the home, it is extremely unlikely that Nizar was armed at the time of the shooting. According to his family, he was not involved in any Palestinian militant movement, was not a wanted person, and had never been imprisoned. The mere attempt by an unarmed civilian who does not pose any immediate threat to the soldiers involved does not automatically make that person a military target. The killing of Nizar Mutahin warrants investigation.
The Bulldozing Death of Jamal Fayid, April 6
Shooting around the house and from IDF helicopters intensified on the afternoon of the second day, April 4. On April 5, the house was hit by a missile and the second and third floors began to burn. Fayid's family tried to run onto the street from the main door, but were forced back when Faziya Muhammad, an elderly aunt, was shot in the shoulder just before she reached the door. They broke a side window and climbed out, but were unable to lift Fayid through the window. They ran down the stairs shouting at the soldiers to hold their fire. The family then ran towards an IDF position in a house diagonally opposite. An IDF medic briefly treated Muhammad's injury, and the family eventually made their way to Fayid's uncle's house a short distance away.
Early the next day, April 6, Fayid's mother and sister returned home to check Fayid's well-being. He was unharmed. Fayid's sister told how she and her mother ran to IDF soldiers in the street to ask permission to retrieve him:
We tried to beg the soldiers that there was a paralyzed man in there. We even showed them his identity card. The ones on the street told us to go away. So we ran to [soldiers in] a neighboring house and said the same. We begged and begged. So eventually they let five women into the house and try to carry him out.58
Fayid's mother, aunt, sister, and two neighbors entered the house. Shortly afterwards they heard the sound of a bulldozer approaching:
It came and began to destroy the house. We could hear people on the street shouting, "Stop! There are women inside the house! Stop!" The soldiers even knew we were in there because they had said we could go into the house and get Jamal out.59
Despite the shouting, the bulldozer continued. The women ran out as the house swayed and crumbled around them, crushing the paralyzed Fayid in the rubble. The soldier in the bulldozer cursed at them, calling them bitches. The women ran into another house for safety. The IDF medic who had helped them the day before raged and swore at the bulldozer driver.
The women stayed in the area for three days, and then returned again to the rubble when the incursion had ended. "At night we slept somewhere else, and during the day we came here to find him. We looked all day yesterday, but we could not find him."60 Fayid's body was recovered from the rubble on April 21, fifteen days after the house was demolished on top of him. It is difficult to see what military goal could have been furthered or what legitimate consideration of urgent military necessity could be put forward to justify the crushing to death of Jamal Fayid without giving his family the opportunity to remove him from his home. This case requires investigation as a possible war crime.
The Shooting of Jamal al-Sabbagh, April 6
The air attack intensified at 2:00 a.m. the following morning, April 5, and the family ran onto the road for safety. The al-Sabbagh home was hit by a missile: the family watched it burn. Al-Sabbagh's wife told Human Rights Watch that no armed Palestinians had been present in their house.
Ibrahim Z. (not his real name), a sixteen-year-old neighbor, walked with al-Sabbagh to the health clinic.62 When they reached the square beside the clinic, they were ordered to lie on the ground. Ibrahim had seen al-Sabbagh talking to the soldiers about his diabetes shortly beforehand. He was still carrying his shirt and medication in the black bag.
Ibrahim told Human Rights Watch:
We lay down. After that they told us to stand up and told Jamal to put his bag away. They wanted him to put it on the ground. He did. They told us to take off our trousers. While we were taking our trousers off, they shot him.63
According to Ibrahim, the soldiers fired two bullets: one at al-Sabbagh and one at him, a few meters away. The bullets missed Ibrahim, but struck al-Sabbagh.
I did not see who shot me, it was night. Everyone else lay down when they heard the shots. They sounded very close, about five to ten meters away. When I heard the shots I threw myself on the ground.64
Ibrahim heard al-Sabbagh recite the shahada [the Muslim declaration of faith, customarily recited before dying]. Al-Sabbagh then fell silent.
Ten minutes later a group of eleven Palestinian men arrived. They were ordered to strip to their underwear and crouch in front of the soldiers. The soldiers then tied their hands, one by hand, beginning from the right-hand side. The hands of the last three men were not tied. Instead, they were ordered to carry al-Sabbagh's body inside the clinic building. They tried to put the body in a large refrigerator, but it would not fit. The last thing Ibrahim saw before being taken away for questioning was a group of IDF soldiers putting al-Sabbagh's body under the clinic stairs.65 An investigation is required to determine why someone who was at the time directly under the control of the IDF and obeying orders to strip off his clothes was shot to death.
The shooting of Ali Muqasqas, April 7
On the second day of the incursion the fighting drew closer to the Muqasqas family's house, and the aerial attack intensified. A missile hit the house immediately opposite and wounded eight people inside-some of them fighters, others civilians seeking shelter after their own houses had been damaged. The family tried to assist those inside. They called an ambulance, but were told it could not come. Ali's son Hassan recalled that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) told him that "we have tried to come. But the soldiers have shot at us and have even arrested our people." 67 Family members dragged some of the injured to a safer location, but were forced to leave others behind.
The following day, April 7, Ali Muqasqas was taking shelter with his family in the front room of the house. The room had no access to running water. When the noonday call to prayer sounded, Ali Muqasqas wanted to pray and went outside to fetch water from the tanks on the western side of the house to perform his ablutions. Muqasqas was aware of an IDF position on the eastern side of the house. He did not realize that another soldier was at a window near the north-eastern side of the house, roughly twenty meters from the water tank.
Muqasqas opened the door and left. His son, Hassan, told Human Rights Watch:
Just afterwards we heard him shouting, "I've been shot! I've been shot!" Yes, we heard the sound of the bullets. It was the sound of a sniper rifle. This was the seventh incursion into Jenin; we know the sound by now. My father ran to hide under a set of low concrete stairs on his left, about two meters away.68
Muqasqas was shot twice in the abdomen. Hassan and his brothers immediately telephoned their neighbor, Mahmud Talib, to come and help them save their father. Talib agreed, and Hassan ran to open the courtyard door for him. But as he opened the door the soldier fired again, missing Hassan but wounding Talib in the side. Talib told Human Rights Watch: "I went to help him. There was a soldier here in my neighbor's house, and when he saw me he shot me. Whenever he saw anything move, he shot it." Talib showed Human Rights Watch a medical certificate stating that he had had a bullet and shrapnel removed from his chest.69 Hassan helped drag Talib to a small storeroom, and then smashed the storeroom window. Hassan, his brothers, sisters, and Talib escaped through the window. Hassan and the children ran to their uncle's house, knowing their father was almost certainly dead, but not sure: "[W]e knew my father was under the staircase, but he was silent. He didn't make any sound after the first scream."70
Hassan and the children stayed at their uncle's house until the incursion ended. The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed their father's death to them, eight days after he was shot, and removed the remains for burial. Under no circumstances can the breach of a curfew by an unarmed civilian going to fetch water be seen as a hostile act. This shooting should be investigated.
Shooting of Muhammad Abu Saba`a, April 9
Muhammad Abu Saba`a, the patriarch of the family, went outside to reason with the operator of the bulldozer who was destroying his home. He explained to the bulldozer operator that his family was still inside, and begged the bulldozer operator to suspend the demolition. The bulldozer operator agreed, and began leaving the area. Muhammad's forty-three-year-old son Samia Abu Saba`a told how his father was shot dead by an Israeli soldier as he returned to his home:
When the bulldozer left the place, a sniper shot my father. He was inside the house, but because half of the house had been destroyed [by the bulldozer] he was visible [from outside]. He was shot in the chest with one or two bullets. It was early in the morning, about 7:30 a.m. or so. My father died instantly. We put his body inside the room.71
Soon after the killing of Muhammad Abu Saba`a, the remaining family members noticed groups of civilians moving in the streets holding white sheets. The civilians told them that bulldozers were leveling houses in the al-Wahsin area of the camp, and that everone who remained in their homes would risk being killed. So the Saba`a family members decided to leave also: "We left my father['s body] inside, and we went outside."72 At the entrance to the camp, the civilians were met by IDF soldiers, who separated the women and children from the men, let the women and children proceed to the hospital, and tied up and arrested the men. When he was released from detention, Samia Abu al-Saba`a found his home completely demolished and began searching for his father's body in the rubble:
We found the body two days ago [on April 18]. I came back and recognized where our house used to be. We brought the bulldozer. When I saw the bed and the bones, I told the bulldozer to stop and we started digging with our hands. The body was in pieces.73
The willful killing of an unarmed civilian in a non-combat situation is a violation of international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime.
Killing of Nayif `Abd al-Jabr and `Amid Fayid, April 10
Muhammad Shalabi, aged twenty, was also with the two young men, and explained what had happened:
We were at our house with `Amid, Nayif, and [another young man]. We were just sitting around when we heard the noise of tanks and became frightened. When we felt it had become too dangerous, they decided to go back to their homes. I tried to persuade them from leaving, because it was very dangerous, but they insisted they had to go home.
We went out of the house, all four of us together. We were walking closely together. [The other young man] left us and went home, so it was the three of us. Nayif and `Amid were standing in front of a store, and I went down to check if there were any tanks down on the street.
Then the shooting started. I thought it was from the tanks, but then I realized it was from the helicopters. When I heard the shooting, I went to hide. ... [After the attack], when we found `Amid, he was still breathing. It took maybe thirty minutes to get to the hospital. The first time, he was just wounded in his leg, then he tried to escape and hide. He was shot in the head from the back.75
Muhammad Shalabi did not see the wounding of Nayif `Abd al-Jabr, who was hiding behind another car, but Nayif was later found mortally wounded in the same area as `Amid. Muhammad Shalabi and a friend carried the mortally wounded `Amid to the hospital, where he soon died from his wounds. When Qassim `Abd al-Jabr heard about the shooting of his son, he rushed to the area with his wife and found his wounded son:
When I reached there, I found some people surrounding Nayif, and giving him first aid. He was bleeding from his mouth, but still alive. We took him and put him on the floor of a store. We called the ambulance to come but the driver was prevented from reaching the area. The fire truck also came to try and help but were also prevented-the IDF soldiers prevented them from reaching the area.
We sat with Nayif until 2:00 a.m. The whole area was surrounded by tanks and Apache [helicopters] were in the sky. The area was also inspected by IDF with dogs. They made everyone get outside and inspected their clothes, from about 11:30 p.m. to midnight. The Israelis said there were four people there, they had shot and killed one and wounded another, and were looking for the two remaining and the injured one.76
At 2:00 a.m., the Israeli forces finally allowed a fire truck to enter the area and evacuate Nayif to the hospital. Nayif died from his wounds at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 11.
During the attack, civilians in the neighboring homes were also injured from the fighting. Fifteen-year-old Rina Hassan was one of the wounded. She was still bedridden when she told Human Rights Watch: "The helicopters came over the area and started shooting. I was in my room when the shooting started. A big bomb from the helicopter fell outside on the veranda and five pieces of the bomb hit me-two pieces are still in my lungs, and two are in my shoulder."77 She was evacuated to the hospital on a home-made stretcher by four youngsters from the neighborhood. The killing of two civilians attempting to return to their homes requires investigation.
Killing of Kamal Zghair, April 10
On Wednesday, April 10, Kamal Zghair came to visit his friend Durar Hussein as usual. Durar Hussein explained how he washed his friend's clothes and fed him, and then wheeled him to the main road when he wanted to return to his room at about 4:00 p.m. Soon thereafter, Kamal Zghair was killed:
That day, he came to me in the morning as he came everyday. I cleaned his clothes and put them out to dry. At about 4:00 or 4:15 p.m., I pushed his wheelchair to the street. He continued to make his way to the gas station.... I had put a white flag on his wheelchair to make sure that everyone could see him from far away.
I waited about ten minutes, because it takes him some time to reach the end of the factory [grounds]. I heard tanks coming from the west. So I got worried about him, because he was in the street. Then they started shooting from the tanks. I knew exactly where he was, and the shooting was there. At first, I thought they were shooting to tell him to move out of the street.
The tanks came nearer and it was too dangerous to remain outside, so I went inside. The tanks stopped for about 45 minutes at the edge of the factory [grounds]. ... The tanks didn't leave the area, they remained, so I couldn't leave the compound to check on him. The tanks remained there all night.
The next morning, the curfew on Jenin was briefly lifted. Durar Hussein immediately went to check on his friend:
I went by foot, and in the place I had expected, I found his wheelchair, crushed by the tanks. I saw the wheelchair but not his body. I ran to the gas station where he sleeps, yelling, "Kamal! Kamal!" I entered his room but could not find anyone.
I went back to where the wheelchair was crushed, looking here and there. I had seen something in the grass [from the factory], and suddenly remembered this. So I went to check and in between the grass I found his body.
You couldn't recognize the body-his face was smashed and his legs were crushed. I only recognized him because of the socks that I had cleaned the day before.78
Human Rights Watch went to inspect the site of the killing and found the crushed and bullet-ridden wheelchair by the side of the road, its white flag still attached. The stretch of road on which Kamal Zghair was killed was completely open with excellent visibility, so it is unlikely that the IDF soldiers who shot him saw anything other than an elderly, wheelchair-bound man. Although Kamal Zghair was outside during a curfew period, the use of lethal force cannot be justified to enforce a curfew. This case raises concerns that serious violations of international humanitarian law have been committed, and thus warrants criminal investigation.
Killing of Faris Zaiban, April 11
When the curfew was lifted, forty-two-year-old Inad Zaiban gave his fourteen-year-old son Faris some money and told him to go to buy some groceries. Faris Zaiban left the house, and went with a group of women and two other young boys to a nearby grocery store located near the Ibrahimi school. Eight-year-old Yusuf A. (not his real name) came along with Faris Zaiban, and told Human Rights Watch what had happened on the way to the store:
Me, Faris, one other boy and some women were together. Faris told me to go back home, but I refused. Then we were walking towards a tank [located seventy-five meters away].79 We saw the tank turning towards us. I was afraid, and Faris said, "Go home," but I refused.
Then the tank started shooting. Faris and another boy ran away. I fell down. Then I saw Faris falling down. I thought that he had just tripped. But then I saw blood on the ground. I went to Faris, I thought he was just asleep. Two women came and carried Faris to a car.
The soldiers didn't say anything before they started shooting. There were no men with us, just boys and women. We didn't throw any rocks at the tank.80
Inad Zaiban was shopping at the market when he heard his son had been shot and taken to the hospital. He rushed to the hospital, but soon was informed that his son was dead. Human Rights Watch visited the scene of the shooting, which is in a street with good visibility. The soldiers had a clear line of fire from where their tank was parked in the middle of the road. The use of lethal force against a group of civilians following the lifting of a curfew, and where no fighting is taking place, constitutes a deliberate attack on unarmed civilians and is a war crime.
54 Ibid. Although another relative, Nidal Ahmad Muhammad Abu Khurj, gave a different date for his aunt's death, the detail was consistent in other aspects. The date of April 6 matches accounts of the incident by others in the neighborhood and is consistent with the pattern of events at the time.
62 Human Rights Watch interview, Ibrahim Z., aged sixteen, April 21, 2002. Human Rights Watch has a policy of not revealing the names of witnesses under the age of eighteen. Names and details are held on file at Human Rights Watch. Requests to cite details should be addressed to the Human Rights Watch New York office.
79 Human Rights Watch researchers visited the scene of the incident, and measured the distance between the tank and where Faris Zaiban had been standing when he was shot as between seventy-five and eighty meters.