Press Release –for immediate publication
Grave suspicion that the killing of the three Fatah activists in Nablus was unlawful
B’Tselem has written to the judge advocate general, Maj. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, demanding that he immediately order a Military Police investigation into the circumstances of the killings of Ghassan Abu Sharakh, Nader a-Sarkaji, and ‘Anan Subuh in Nablus on 26 December 2009. B’Tselem further demanded that the Military Police investigate the soldiers’ violence against the families of the three men and the damage caused to their property.
State officials, among them the IDF Spokesperson, stated that the three had been involved in the shooting attack that killed Rabbi Meir Chai on 24 December 2009. They further stated that the soldiers went to their houses to arrest them, but the three refused to surrender, and the soldiers shot them when they felt their lives were in danger. However, B’Tselem’s investigation of the event, which included interviews with nine relatives of the men who were killed and examination of the findings at the scene and of medical reports, revealed a different version. The investigation raises a grave suspicion that the soldiers acted unlawfully and, at least in the cases of Ghassan Abu Sharakh and Nader a-Sarkaji, made no attempt to arrest them before shooting them to death. This, in spite of the fact that the two had obeyed the order to exit their home, and were not carrying arms.
As there were no eyewitnesses to the killing of ‘Anan Subuh, B’Tselem cannot ascertain the circumstances in which he was shot by soldiers. However, B’Tselem’s investigation indicates that, although a weapon was found in his hiding place, ‘Anan Subuh did not fire at the soldiers. The IDF’s Spokesperson’s announcements regarding this incident did not mention an exchange of gunfire that night.
B’Tselem says that the three Fatah activists were suspected by Israel of committing a serious offense, and stood to serve long sentences had they been convicted. However, as they were merely suspects, the army’s duty was to arrest them and bring them to trial. Israel denies that it carries out assassinations in the West Bank, yet B’Tselem’s investigation raise a grave suspicion that the soldiers acted as if they were on an assassination mission, not an arrest operation.
For the full letter click here