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UN Experts Condemn Alleged Israeli Undercover Killings in West Bank Hospital as Potential War Crimes

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Press release

Geneva – February 11, 2024


UN experts are raising serious concerns about Israel’s alleged extrajudicial killings of three Palestinian men at the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, on January 29. The experts caution that these actions may constitute grave international human rights and humanitarian law violations.

According to reports, approximately ten armed members of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israel Police entered the hospital in disguise, posing as medical professionals and civilians. Captured on CCTV, they brought a wheelchair and a doll in a baby carrier into the hospital. Upon entering a rehabilitation ward, they fatally shot Basel Ayman Al-Ghazawi, a patient recovering from injuries sustained in an Israeli airstrike three months earlier, along with his brother, Muhammad Ayman Al-Ghazawi, and another visitor, Muhammed Walid Jalamna.

Israel alleges that the three men were involved in terrorism, but UN experts stress that regardless of the allegations, Israel is obligated to respect international human rights and humanitarian law. They argue that in occupied territories under Israeli control, outside active hostilities, Israeli forces are only entitled to arrest or detain individuals, using force strictly if necessary to prevent an imminent threat to life or severe injury. Instead, the experts claim that Israel chose to violate these principles by resorting to lethal force.

The experts contend that under international humanitarian law, killing a defenseless injured patient being treated in a hospital constitutes a war crime, specifically referencing the case of Basel Ayman Al-Ghazawi. Moreover, they argue that by disguising themselves as medical personnel and civilians, Israeli forces may have committed the war crime of treason, which is universally prohibited.

Calling for accountability, the experts demand that Israel conduct a thorough investigation in line with international law to prosecute and punish those responsible for the alleged crimes. They also urge the implementation of measures to prevent future arbitrary killings and provide reparations to the victims. Expressing longstanding concerns about Israel’s culture of impunity, the experts suggest that in the absence of a prompt investigation, the International Criminal Court should intervene.

Against the backdrop of an alarming increase in Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the October 7, 2023, attack by Palestinian armed groups, the experts underscore the importance of respecting international law. They highlight previous instances of Israel’s misuse of counter-terrorism laws in the West Bank, emphasizing the need for all parties to fulfill their international legal obligations and cooperate with ongoing investigations by the International Criminal Court.

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