Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Releases, 20 October 2013
Lawyers of the Legal Aid Unit at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) succeeded in ensuring remedy for the families of 3 Palestinian children, who were killed by Israeli forces in 2001. Following years of legal work and vigorous follow-up, a settlement was concluded with the Israeli Military Prosecution’s representatives to pay NIS166,000 for each family of the victims in exchange for closing the file. Procedures to submit the amounts of money to the families are now in process.
On 30 August 2004, PCHR filed a compensation claim before Gedera District Court for the killing of the 3 children by Israeli forces. Many hearings were held in the past years and PCHR provided evidence to confirm the Israeli forces‘ responsibility for the attack, the most important of which was the appearance of witnesses before the court. Of the witnesses were Tamar Jasinski, the then head of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and doctors from Physicians for Human Rights and from the Popular Committee against Torture. The Israeli prosecution was obliged as a result to end the file through the abovementioned settlement.
Intensive effort was exercised by PCHR following the attack which resulted in killing the 3 children to prove Israeli forces had been responsible for willfully killing them although the children did not pose any threat to the Israeli soldiers. The Israeli authority kept claiming that the 3 children had been armed.
The attack took place on 30 December when Israeli forces fired a number of artillery shells 2001 at Ahmed Mohammed Banat (15); Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Madhoun (16); and Mohammed Ahmed Lubbad (17). They are all from al-Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza city. According to investigations conducted by PCHR at that time, an Israeli tank positioned in the vicinity of „Eli Sinai“ settlement that was located to the north of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, fired 4 artillery shells at an agricultural land in the north of Beit Lahia that is about 1,200 meters to the south of the abovementioned settlement. 30 minutes later, Israeli forces announced they had killed 3 armed Palestinians who attempted to sneak into the settlement. They changed their allegation later and claimed that the 3 persons were trying to plant explosives in the area. However, the official story of Israeli forces stated the 3 persons had carried knives.
The victims‘ names and ages were not identified then, as Israeli forces kept the corpses. At the same time, 3 families from al-Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City reported that 3 of their children were missing after they returned from a visit to their friend in Beit Lahia. There were concerns that they would be the victims in the attack.
On 02 January 2001, PCHR continued following the case and sent a letter to the legal advisor of the Israeli forces demanding him to deliver the 3 corpses to the Palestinian Authority to identify them. PCHR demanded also initiating an investigation in the incident. Although Israeli forces deliver the corpses to the Palestinian Authority on the same day, an investigation was not initiated.
PCHR followed up the case through its lawyer regarding the investigation. Moreover, it had coordination with the Popular Committee against Torture and Physicians for Human Rights after providing them with the facts and results PCHR had in order to exert pressure for the interest of investigating the incident. The Israeli Knesset assigned a session for the case, during which some information was revealed on Israeli forces‘ involvement in willfully killing the children and how a tank drove over one of the corpses.
Along with the legal effort, PCHR followed up the case at the international level via sending letters to John Dugard, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; Asma Jahangir, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions; and Olara Otunnu, Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. PCHR demanded the international officials to take immediate steps to ensure opening a comprehensive and impartial investigation by an international independent committee.
This is not the first time that PCHR achieves success in regard to efforts to prosecute war criminals via Israeli courts. PCHR had achieved other successes in this field, the latest of which was in September 2012, despite the financial, physical and legal barriers imposed by the Israeli authorities to hinder the Palestinian victims‘ access to justice and judicial remedy.