On Sunday, 23 February 2020, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) shot and injured Palestinian civilians whom were trying to rescue and evacuate two persons that were targeted by IOF in eastern Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip.

IOF made a 150-meter incursion into the border and evacuated the body of a Palestinian it killed in the area after desecrating his body in a humiliating and cruel manner, trying to lift the deceased with a wheel loader several times and dropping the slain man back to the ground, then confiscating the slain man to the Israeli side of the border.

According to PCHR investigations, at approximately 05:40 on Sunday, 23 February 2020, IOF fired three artillery shells and live bullets at two persons who were 100 meters from the border fence with Israel in eastern ‘Abassan al-Jadida, eastern Khan Younis.

Minutes later, a group of Palestinian civilians arrived at the area at Jakar St., followed by an ambulance, and tried to recover the dead bodies. IOF reinforced along the border fence and several military vehicles and soldiers deployed on sand berms in the area.

Approximately 1 hour later, 3 civilians took off their upper clothing, remained in their undershirts and approached one of the dead bodies while carrying a stretcher in an attempt to recover the body. They managed to pull out the body and place it on the stretcher and march westward a few meters.

IOF fired lived bullets at them, wounding Mohammed Khaled al-Najjar, 19, in his lower body; forcing the young men to leave the dead body on the stretcher and evacuated al-Najjar into a civilian car that carried him to an ambulance. They later returned to the scene to evacuate the person on the stretcher. Meanwhile, an IOF wheel loader and tank moved into the location and sped in their direction.

The group managed to carry the dead man’s body with the stretcher, but IOF opened fire at them, so he fell to the ground. An Israeli wheel loader arrived at the area and attempted to evacuate the young man’s body. According to eyewitnesses’ statement and video clips taken by Palestinian journalists in the area, the Israeli wheel loader lifted the young man’s body and threw him on the ground several times. When Mo’taz Hasan al-Najjar, 21, attempted to recover his body, IOF opened fired live bullets at him, wounding him in his lower extremities.

The Israeli wheel loader continued abusing the deceased man’s body for 3 minutes in an attempt to lift him in a way that violates the sanctity of death. The wheel loader carried him from his upper cloths as his body hanged in a tormenting manner, and retreated into the Israeli side of the border fence.

It was later discovered that the person killed, and whose body was desecrated by IOF, was Mohammed ‘Ali Hasan al-Na’em, 27, from Khan Younis. Al-Quds Brigades, the Military Wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, declared that the killed man is one of its members. Furthermore, the young men managed to evacuate the other dead body from the area, who was also a member of armed groups from the area.

PCHR condemns IOF’s inhuman treatment against the victim’s corpse, which was extracted in a humiliating and degrading manner. PCHR, also, denounces the use of excessive force against Palestinian civilians, who attempted to recover the body.

PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfil their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.