The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR)Ref:71/2023- Date: 22 June 2023: The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the extrajudicial execution crime (assassination) committed by IOF that killed 3 Palestinian militants, including a child, after IOF warplanes targeted their vehicle last evening near al-Jalamah Crossing, north of Jenin. This was the first time IOF used their warplanes to carry out assassinations in the West Bank in about 18 years. This crime comes amid unprecedented escalation and Israel’s threats to launch widespread aggression on the West Bank upon a decision from Israel’s top military and political echelons.

PCHR warns that return to assassination and airstrikes policy in the West Bank, especially with the Israeli Government’s threats to launch a widescale military operation there, alarms of further deterioration that may inflict more civilian casualties. In this regard, PCHR points out what the Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, said after the assassination: “We will take an offensive and proactive approach, will use all the means at our disposal, and we will exact the heaviest price from every terrorist or terrorist courier.”

According to information collected by PCHR’s fieldworker, at approximately 21:00 on Wednesday, 21 June 2023, IOF warplanes launched 2 missiles at a white Tucson SUV near al-Jalamah Crossing, where IOF are stationed, setting it ablaze.  The Palestinian ambulances and civil defense crews rushed to the targeted vehicle, but they found IOF deployed in the area, preventing them from approaching the vehicle. Moments later, IOF allowed the civil defense crews to put out the fire in the vehicle and then pulled out three charred bodies from inside and detained them before pulling the burnt car into Jalamah Crossing. Later, it turned out that those killed were members of Palestinian armed groups and were identified as: Suhaib ‘Adnan al-Ghoul (28) and Ashraf Murad al-Sa’di (17), both members of Al-Quds Brigades, and Mohammed Bashar ‘Owais (27), a member of al-Aqsa Brigades.

The IOF Spokesperson said, “There is a precise surgery happening now to eradicate a terrorist threat.”[1]

This crime came at the end of a week that witnessed a significant escalation in IOF and settlers’ attacks in the West Bank, where 15 Palestinians, including 7 civilians, amongst them a girl, were killed, and 116 others, including 18 children and a journalist, were injuries while dozens of other suffocated due to teargas inhalation and sustained bruises. Also, Israeli settlers conducted widescale attacks on Palestinian civilian property, including setting dozens of vehicles and residential houses in several Palestinian villages ablaze.

Extrajudicial killings are carried out pursuant to Israeli intelligence information, and those wanted are killed instantly instead of arresting them. By this, IOF act as both judge and executioner of a death sentence at the same time.

Palestinian civilians would often pay the price of such crimes, which IOF commits in disregard for nontarget civilians’ lives, which was obvious in the latest aggression on the Gaza Strip in May. According to PCHR’s documentation, at least 1000 Palestinians have been killed in assassination crimes committed by IOF in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the last two decades, 80% of them were nontarget civilians, and 15% were children.

PCHR indicates that the IOF has perpetuated this pattern of crimes in recent years against the Palestinians in light of the international community’s silence, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and inaction to stop these crimes and take effective measures against the Israeli occupation, therefore encouraging Israel to commit further war crimes against the Palestinians.

PCHR reiterates its call on the international community to take immediate action to stop Israeli crimes and double standards when applying international law and particularly urges the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take serious action in the situation of Palestine.

PCHR demands the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention fulfill 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.