In the first such killing since the ceasefire that ended Israel’s offensive last summer, troops shoot and kill a Palestinian farmer near Gaza’s border.
Israeli forces shot and killed Palestinian farmer Fadel Mohammed Halawa, 32, near Gaza’s border with Israel on Sunday. Relatives say he was searching for songbirds that fetch high prices in Gaza markets.
An Israeli military spokesperson said that troops warned two Palestinians to leave the border zone and first fired warning shots. “Once they didn’t comply, they fired towards their lower extremities. There was one hit,” a spokesperson told Al Jazeera.
Gaza medical officials told the BBC that Halawa was shot in the back, and that the shots appeared to have been fired from an Israeli border watchtower.
Halawa is the first Palestinian to be killed since the ceasefire that ended the Israeli offensive known as “Operation Protective Edge.” According UN statistics, Israeli attacks killed some 2,200 Palestinians in seven weeks, most of them civilians. Rockets from Gaza killed five civilians in Israel, and 66 Israeli soldiers died in the fighting. Israeli forces have shot and wounded several Palestinians since the start of the ceasefire.
As a B’Tselem report from the start of 2014 indicates, the shooting of unarmed Palestinians near the Gaza border constitutes an ongoing pattern of excessive lethal force:
Israel completed the disengagement in September 2005. From then until the end of July 2006, soldiers have killed fourteen unarmed Palestinians near the perimeter fence [as of January 1, 2014]. Five of the fatalities were minors, one of them an eight-year-old girl. Eight of the dead did not even try to reach the fence, and were shot at a distance of from 100 to 800 meters from the fence. Four other civilians were shot when they tried to cross the fence and sneak into Israel to work, and two were shot near the Israeli border. The IDF’s announcement confirms that none of the persons killed were carrying weapons or objects with which they could mount an attack. B’Tselem’s research also indicates that Israel ‘s security forces did not warn the Palestinians to go away from the area, and they were not given the opportunity to hand themselves over to the soldiers. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office only announced that the soldiers opened fire when they suspected that Palestinians intended to fire at them or sought to place explosives near the fence. …
A primary principle of international humanitarian law is the distinction between combatants and civilians. … Automatically opening fire at every person who enters a certain area, regardless of the person’s identity or the circumstances of the incident, such as in the cases described above, is “indiscriminate firing,” which is liable to constitute a war crime.