Maureen Clare Murphy
The Electronic Intifada / February 8, 2022
Israeli occupation forces extra-judicially executed three Palestinians in Nablus on Tuesday afternoon.
Forces reportedly belonging to Israel’s Yamam “counterterrorism” police unit entered the northern West Bank city in two civilian vehicles and intercepted the car in which the three Palestinians were traveling, according to an initial investigation by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
“Soldiers in military uniform stepped out of the two vehicles and directly opened fire at the three persons inside the car,” the rights group stated.
The Israeli operatives shot at the Palestinian men’s heads, “killing them immediately,” PCHR added, before withdrawing from the area.
Israeli forces reportedly fired some 80 bullets at the car in which the three Palestinians were traveling.
Israeli media reported that a fourth man in the vehicle, initially reported to have been killed, was “still at large.”
That man, identified as Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, was present at the funeral for one of the three slain men:
An eyewitness said that the execution operation began and ended in the space of a few minutes:
The slain Palestinians were identified as Ashraf Muhammad Abdalfattah Mbaslat (21), Muhammad Raed Hussein Dakheel (22) and Adham Mabrouk al-Shishani (21), all from Nablus’ Old City.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights stated that the three were affiliated with the largely inactive armed wing of Fatah and were wanted by the Israeli military.
Israel claimed that the executed men had carried out shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians near Nablus in recent weeks. No Israelis were injured in those alleged attacks, according to media.
Israel said that the Palestinians were shot after they “tried to open fire” at the Israeli forces and that the men were in possession of two M-16 rifles.
But eyewitnesses told media that it was clear that Israeli forces aimed to kill rather than arrest the men.
Human rights groups have long accused Israel’s leadership of permitting a situation in which soldiers, police and armed civilians act as judge, jury and executioner against Palestinians.
An unnamed Israeli security official told media that the executed Palestinian men “were on their way to commit another attack, necessitating their intervention,” The Times of Israel reported.
“They were a ticking bomb,” the official said, attempting to justify the extrajudicial executions, which are a blatant violation of international law.
In its landmark report on Israeli apartheid published last week, Amnesty International states that willful killing is a grave breach of international law under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Willful killing is also considered a war crime under the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, which is currently investigating alleged international crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“Amnesty International is not aware of any case in which an Israeli army soldier or member of another security force has been convicted of willfully causing the death of a Palestinian in the [West Bank and Gaza Strip] since 1967,” the rights group adds.
After the executions on Tuesday, Palestinian Authority security forces stormed the slain men’s funeral procession in Nablus. Video shows the armed security forces confiscating green flags associated with Hamas:
Nablus is in so-called Area A of the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority has nominal responsibility over internal security and public order under the Oslo Accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s.
In practice, however, Palestinian Authority security forces suppress protests and Israeli forces raid at will.
In August last year, an undercover Israeli unit shot and killed four Palestinians in Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, also classified as Area A.
In 2017, the Yamam unit killed prominent Palestinian activist and revolutionary thinker Bassel al-Araj during a raid in Al-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada