More extra-judicial killings of Hamas activists
By LAW Society
February 18, 2003

Israeli forces this morning, Tuesday extra judicially assassinated Mohammad Murr (28) from Yatta, south of Hebron city.

According to information gathered by LAW, at around 3:55am this morning, Israeli Special Forces, disguised as Arabs, assisted by regular Israeli troops, entered Yatta, a large village south of Hebron city. They surrounded the home of Mohammad Murr (28) in the Umm al-Sidr area. Murr attempted to flee from his home. Special Forces opened fire at him, shooting him in the left leg. Murr managed to reach his neighbors garden, around 20 meters away, and fell down on the ground bleeding. A soldier approached him from a distance of 10 meters, shot and killed him instantly. Murr was unarmed.

LAW’s field worker noted that the victim had bullets scattered throughout his body, and three bullets in the chest. Mohammad was married with two children. He was a Hamas activist, wanted by Israel.

Yesterday, Monday (February 17), Israel assassinated Riyad Abu Zeid, a Hamas activist in the Gaza Strip and two other Palestinians. On Sunday (February 16), six Hamas members were killed in a mysterious explosion.

LAW’s figures indicate that at least 125 Palestinians have been killed through extra-judicial killings, not including bystanders. Willful killings prohibited under article 3 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention amount to grave breaches, which under the article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and Protocol One to the Fourth Geneva Conventions are defined as war crimes.

Extra-judicial killings cannot be reconciled with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which seek to protect the lives of protected persons, and violate human rights norms that affirm the right to life and the prohibition on execution of civilians.

LAW strongly condemns Israel's assassination policy. Israel is legally responsible for the acts of its agents, and is under corresponding obligations to ensure that its agents adhere to the Convention and to prosecute those agents who commit grave breaches. All state signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention have also the right and are under a positive obligation to seek out and prosecute individuals responsible for committing or commissioning grave breaches, wherever the perpetrators are. Article 148 of the Fourth Geneva states that 'no High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by any other High Contracting Party...'

Israel's ongoing human rights violations further illustrates the need for the immediate deployment of an international protection presence to prevent violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and to protect Palestinian protected persons within the Occupied Palestinian Territories.