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ISM: Report on War Crimes Committed by Israel Army


ISM: Report on War Crimes Committed by the Israeli Army

REPORT ON WAR CRIMES COMMITTED BY THE ISREALI ARMY IN THE JENIN REGION OF THE WEST BANK, OCCUPIED PALESTINE

Report on the murder of two children on Nov. 8th, 2003 in Burqeen village, shot by Israeli soldiers shortly after 12:00pm. The Israeli Army also injured 6 others in the attack.

The army arrived into town just after the noon prayer was heard from the mosque. The children were all on there way home from school. At first, an armored personnel carrier (APC) drove into the centre of town and began crushing cars. Then two army jeeps followed. The soldiers exited their vehicles and right away opened fire at everyone on the street.

This report is compiled by Johanna of ISM Jenin, with the testimonies of eyewitnesses, victims and family statements of the deceased. First names are used to maintain the safety of the witnesses and the injured. All of the testimonies, except for Laith's mother's statement (she spoke English), were translated on site.

The population of Burqeen is approx. 6,000 people. It is situated just south of Burqeen Valley, on the other side of the hills from Jenin.

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Moataz Wasif (age 16), was shot by an Israeli soldier, and died immediately.

Laith Mazen (age 15), was shot by an Israeli soldier, and died from his injuries on Nov. 12 in the hospital.

Naseem, Male Child (age 16) & Majdee, Male Child (age 15) & Mussab, Adult Male (age 20): All three were beaten with M-16 guns and kicked by the Israeli Military, tied up & blindfolded, and taken to a military base, threatened that they would be killed at gunpoint, force fed grass and water during fasting for Ramadan, then abandoned in Jabriette forest, out side Jenin.

Ryad, Adult Male (age 35), was injured by a gunshot wound in the abdomen.

Rawdah, Adult Female (age 55), was injured by shrapnel in the hand, and lost parts of two fingers.

Abdallah, Male Child (age 14), was hit with four pieces of shrapnel, logged into his chest.

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Mouayah, shop owner in Burqeen, witness of the army attack in the town centre:

"The tank (APC) entered first, then after the two jeeps arrived. The tank was crushing cars, then the soldiers from the tank started to shoot with their own guns. The soldiers came out of their jeeps and opened fire at people with their guns. They started to shoot the water tanks on the roofs up there. 6 cars crushed right here. We were all scared in the shop and hid back here behind the wall. There were over 15 soldiers, and they were only here for 30 minutes."

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Jameel, 33 year old male, a shop owner in Burqeen, witness of the army attack and shooting of Laith Mazen:

"The Israeli army came in right here (his shop is right at the town centre). It was 12:00 and all the kids were on their way back home from school. First the APC arrived and began crushing cars. Some kids started throwing stones. I saw one jeep at the corner. When the jeep arrived, all of the soldiers got out of the APC and the jeep. There were about 20 soldiers. Everyone the army saw, they shot at. When the soldiers started shooting, Laith ran away. He was not throwing rocks. The soldiers ran after the child and shot him through his back, out through his chest. He was only 30 meters from them when he was shot. He tried to run for safety around the corner, but collapsed as he reached the corner. He was carried to a house and stayed there for 30 minutes, because the army refused to let the ambulance through to carry him to the hospital. Two days ago, some kids from another village were threatened by some soldiers on their way to Burqeen school. The soldier said: "let your friends in Burqeen know that we will be coming into town to make them act polite, so they don't throw stones at us".

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Ryad, 35 year old male, was working in his shop down the road from the town centre, when the Israeli army entered the village, at the town centre. He was 200 meters from the soldiers when one of the soldiers shot him in the abdomen with an M-16.

"I quickly closed up my shop, as I usually do when the army arrives, I knew they were here because of the children yelling and because I could hear the tank, but this time was different. When I looked down the street, the APC was crushing car after car. It was like a play, this is the first time I have seen them act in this way, such an unusual way. As the tank continued to crush cars, some children threw rocks at the APC. As soon as the APC stopped crushing many cars, all of the soldiers jumped out and started shooting at anything that moved. Because it was heavy shooting, everybody tried to find a way to hide, to go home. I tried to go near to the wall for safety, but still looking out of curiosity. One of the first scenes I saw, was four soldiers chasing the young boy, Laith, down the road towards me. Soldiers from a near distance were shooting many bullets at him. One of the soldiers was shooting into the tree above. Branches from the tree were falling all over the road. Other soldiers were shooting at the ground. One soldier was shooting at Laith, and the soldiers were very close to him. I saw Laith go around the corner, so I couldn't see if he was shot or not. Just looking at the scene, I was shot in the abdomen. Mazen, Laith's father, was right there when I announced I was hit. I lifted up my shirt to show him. Mazen went to the other side of the road to get his cousin's car for help, but the soldiers kept firing. I tried to cross the street, but they were shooting too much at me. A bullet shot right in front of my face. For 20 minutes, they kept shooting, while I was bleeding. One of my neighbours from my side of the road helped me over fences and through yards, until we reached the main road, so that I could make it to Jenin Hospital. My intestines were injured. I spent two and a half hours in surgery. I spent one week in the hospital. I will take at least three months to recover. Many soldiers shot that day, but only one of them shot to kill. In two minutes, I saw him shoot at Laith, shoot down the road to kill Moataz and then he shot me. My wife was also shot at, coming from work, from another direction. They shot at her in the taxi, 20 cm away from her head. It's like a drama, soldiers started shooting randomly at every moving target, and it's not normal."

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Witness, Mazen, Laith's father, showed us where he was standing when the attack took place. He suffered minor injuries to his hand from shrapnel.

"I was standing right in front of Ryad when he was shot. (Down the road from the town centre, in view. Shrapnel grazed my hand (he pointed to his scar on his right hand). Even when Ryad was shot, they kept shooting. They shot at the car to prevent assistance to a hurt man. The soldier was shooting to kill, above the waist, not below at the legs. The soldiers were 25 meters away from my son when he was shot."

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I sat with the family of Laith Mazen, who died in hospital four days after he was shot. His father, Mazen, invited us into their home. It took some time for his mother to understand the reasons for our visit. She said:

"Why are you here asking questions about my son's death? Do you think that your questions will change anything? Can you find the soldier who killed my son? Do you know that many people have come before you to ask questions about the killing of my son? Do you think your questions will make a difference, because they definitely will not bring back my son?"

I answered her with the truth, that I do not have the power to find the soldier who killed her son, and my questions unfortunately will not change her situation. I told her that many people back at home are fed lies through various forms of media about Palestinians and the Israeli occupation, and do not know the truth about the war crimes that are committed here by the Israeli army. She was quite surprised by this and thought that everybody knew the crimes the Israeli army and government are committing, but didn't care enough to pay attention or do anything about it. I told her that when I returned home, I would try to educate people about the truth, and hoped that some people would listen and want to do something about it. I told her that once I knew about the crimes committed with the occupation, I felt I had to come to Palestine, to try to see what I could do to help to uncover the lies and support Palestinian human rights, however minor of a difference I could make. I apologized for coming into her home as a stranger, asking more useless questions. I felt that I didn't have a right to be there. In the end, she was so welcoming, and invited me to stay with them to break fast with the whole family, since it is the month of Ramadan. She said I was welcome anytime.

When she asked me what questions I had, I asked her if she had anything specific she wanted to tell me about her son's death:

"To be honest, I feel that they (the soldiers) came to kill that day. It was not like all the children were throwing rocks. Many days, the army jeeps pass, and kids throw stones. When you hear that kind of shooting, you know that they have come to kill. One man (soldier), shot three. The same man (soldier) killed my son and Moataz and injured another. Three guys from Burqeen were also beaten. They came to beat them with shoes and guns. And because of Ramadan, they were fasting. The soldiers ordered them to eat grass, ordered them to drink water. The soldiers told them: "Whoever is fasting during Ramadan, will eat grass." . I am lucky because I have only lost one child, some mothers loose two or three. Last year they killed his cousin (her husband's), and shot him many times in the chest. They said he was a "wanted" person, but no he was not. They want to kill. The kill is in their blood. They shot my son here (in the back) and it came out here (out the chest). They shot a special bullet to explode in the body."

Her husband, Mazen, added: "All the people here are very peaceful. There are no wanted people in this village."

She continued: "If you want to do something for people here, do something for the children. My daughter there, who is just three, has been sick with a fever, and you know how children talk in their sleep with a fever, and she yelled out in fear "yahoodi, yahoodi, they are shooting". And my son here, who is very active, is no longer, he does not move much since his older brother died, he is in shock."

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When I sat with the family of Moataz Wasif, who was shot to death by one of the soldiers that entered Burqeen on Saturday, his mother asked me to take this message back to my country:

"When they killed my son, the Israelis caused a deep injury in my heart, an injury that will not heal before the last moment of my life. They broke all of our hearts in our family. Tell them that we are not terrorists. We want to have a normal love with our children, the kind of relationships that you can have with your children, a love that can grow with time. Tell them how Palestinian women are suffering. We are not mothers who raise their children as suicide bombers. Many of our children are killed by the army and we will keep having children as resistance to the occupation."

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Layla, 45 year old mother, who tried to save Moataz Wasif.

"While I was in the kitchen, my son came running in and said: "There is a tank crushing cars. There was a shooting." My son quickly tried to close the door and said: "they killed him!" My son tried to prevent me from going outside, but I went out to help the boy. Moataz had just been dropped off by the taxi from Jenin into the middle of the situation. He had been in Jenin visiting his aunt, and was wearing his new clothes for Ramadan. When I went out, I didn't look both ways, I just went towards the boy. The shooting didn't stop. When I reached him, I said, "get up". He didn't move, so I rolled him over, but he was already dead. I thought maybe he had just fallen. People were shouting at me because the shooting didn't stop. They were still shooting at me, so I hid behind the tractor to be safe. I was screaming in shock, and the woman from the house across the road, pulled me inside the house. There were ten women in that house giving condolences. They helped me to safety.

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Witness, Zakayah - 43 year old woman, who also received minor injuries on her arm from shrapnel. She showed us the dress that she had been wearing with a big hole in the sleeve, as well as the marks from the shrapnel. She also pointed out the bullet hole in the window frame and the bullet hole in the wall when the soldiers shot at the woman standing in the window screaming.

"Moataz was coming from his Aunt's house in Jenin, he was trying to go to his house down the side road, but soldiers were shooting down the street from both directions. He was shot by the soldiers at the top of the road. There was a boy with Moataz who tried to pull him to safety once he was shot. One of the women here was shot in the fingers at this window. The soldiers opened fire on our house, when all the women here began screaming. They shot through the window (she pointed to the damage). There were 8 children in the house. I went outside the door to help the a woman into our house. When I was back inside, I felt burning on my arm and noticed I was hurt."

Witness - Rawdah, Adult Female (age 55), was injured by shrapnel in the hand, and lost parts of two fingers. Her hand was bandaged up. She showed us the x-ray of the fingers that were missing.

"I was at the window upstairs when the shooting began, and tried to run downstairs, I saw him get shot, but could not exit the house, because it was too dangerous. Zakayah's brother's condolences service was at house when it happened. I saw Moataz walking, behind him a young boy. No stones were being thrown. Soldiers were hiding behind the telephone pole up the road shooting down. Moataz tried to go the other way and then I saw him get killed. He fell on the trolley, one foot high, when he was shot. I ran back upstairs. When I looked out the window and screamed out the window, I heard the sound of bullets go by my ear, and as I moved, shrapnel hit my hand. One of the local cars drove me down to the square, where the APC was parked, but they left me bleeding inside the ambulance for 1 hour, because the soldiers said that I was resisting. My sister went to the hospital in a different way, and beat me to the Jenin hospital. That day, they killed in cold blood. They burned my heart. All of the shooting took 5 minutes. The soldiers had asked some children two days ago: "when will the children get out of school, so we can punish them for throwing stones".

Boy, age 15, kidnapped and injured from being beaten and kicked by the soldiers.

I was in the square when the soldiers came. Some kids were throwing rocks, but I tried to run away. Two soldiers chased me, caught me, and dragged me by the arms to the jeep, and tied up my hands behind my back. A soldier hit me with his M-16. He put his foot on my neck and threatened me that he will shoot me in the head. They took us (him and two others) to Arabi (military base 17 km away). At the base, one of the soldiers put a gun to my head and said: "I will count to three then kill you." After two, another soldier said: "he's too young to shoot him". They spoke to us in Hebrew. We were blindfolded the whole time and they took pictures of us. They forced us to eat grass and drink water. Then they drove us to Jabriette forest and left us there, after 5-6 hours."

He had severe swelling in his right eye, cuts across his left cheak and bruises on his body from the beating and kicking. His mother showed me the doctor's note that read: The patient came to the eye dept at Jenin hospital. We checked his right eye. As he stated, he was beaten by one of the isreali soldiers.

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