On Saturday morning, 13 May 2023, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have killed 2 Palestinian civilians and wounded 3 others, including a woman and a child, during their incursion into Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus deep into the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), north of the West Bank. This crime is part of a pattern of unjustified killings committed due to the excessive use of force, lenient shooting standards upon Israel’s top political and military echelons and granting impunity to Israeli soldiers who have committed crimes.
According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 08:30 on Saturday, 13 May 2023, Israeli Special Forces sneaked via a white Mercedes Carvel bus with a Palestinian registration plate into al-Yasameen neighborhood in central Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus, where they cordoned off Hatem Jehad Abu Reziq’s 2-storey house. Few moments later, IOF sent large reinforcements to the camp accompanied with a drone in the sky to back up the special forces and some soldiers topped the roofs of high buildings in the camp and tightened the cordon on Abu Reziq’s house. Meanwhile, IOF immediately launched several rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and heavily fired live bullets at the cordoned house, destroying the 2nd floor. During the operation, clashes and an exchange of fire erupted between IOF and members of Palestinian armed groups near the cordoned house. At around 09:15, while Saed Jehad Shaker Mashah (32), a clothes merchant, was on his way to his workplace trying to move from an alley to another on al-Madares Street to reach al-Quds Street, an Israeli sniper fired a live bullet at his head that penetrated his right eye and blew off his head, killing him on al-Madares Street at the camp’s southern outskirts. Promptly after targeting Mashah, Waseem ‘Adnan Yousef al-A’raj (18) approached to pull him, but an Israeli sniper fired a live bullet at his head and killed him falling on Mashah. Also, 3 other Palestinians, including a woman and a child, were wounded by IOF fire during the incursion, and IOF denied Palestinian ambulances’ access into the camp to evacuate those killed and injured. After committing their crime, IOF completely withdrew from the camp and those killed and injured were evacuated to Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus. Later, Israeli media stated that IOF failed to arrest wanted Palestinians.
PCHR reiterates its condemnation of IOF’s killings and call on the international community to take an immediate action to stop Israeli crimes and double standards when applying the international law. PCHR calls upon the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to fulfill his duty of investigating this crime along with other crimes committed by IOF against Palestinian civilians and holding the Israeli officials accountable for these crimes that they continue to commit in light of absence of accountability. PCHR demands the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention fulfil their obligations as per Common Article 1 of the Convention, “undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances,” and their obligations under Article 146 of the same Conventions, i.e., to hold accountable persons accused of committing grave breaches of the Convention.