18. During the reporting period, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported 3,745 search and arrest operations by IDF in the West Bank, during which 2,748 Palestinians were arrested and/or detained. A number of cases documented by OHCHR indicate that IDF often use live ammunition against unarmed Palestinians. The resort to the use of live ammunition in IDF search and arrest operations resulted in the death of four unarmed Palestinian civilians.
19. On 7 January 2011 at approximately 3.30 a.m., a large number of IDF troops surrounded a house in Hebron, silently broke into the second floor of the house and immediately rushed for the bedroom. Three soldiers entered the bedroom and immediately opened fire at close range on Omar Qawasmeh, a 66-year-old man who was asleep in his bed. Approximately 14 bullets were fired at him. According to accounts collected by OHCHR, when the soldiers realized that they had targeted the wrong floor they proceeded to the first floor of the house where they arrested the intended target of the raid. IDF announced that it would investigate the killing and on 19 January, announced that it would terminate the career of one of the soldiers involved in the operation.17
20. On 13 July 2011, at around 5 a.m., 21-year-old Ibrahim Omar Sarhan from el-Far’a refugee camp was shot in the leg by an IDF soldier and subsequently bled to death. According to the account collected by OHCHR, the victim and his cousin had finished dawn prayers at a mosque in el-Fa’ra camp and were walking home. A number of IDF soldiers appeared at the end of the narrow alley where the victim and his cousin were walking. The cousin was quickly physically immobilized by some of the soldiers while the victim turned around and started running away. An IDF soldier fired in the direction of the victim, who was hit in the thigh but continued running away until he reached a neighbor’s place. IDF entered the house where the victim was lying, almost unconscious, and started providing first aid to the victim. An ambulance arrived at the scene and took the victim to al-Rafidiya hospital in Nablus where, upon arrival, the victim was pronounced dead. The accounts collected by OHCHR and the circumstances of the incident indicate that the victim was not involved in any violent act against IDF during their operation in the camp.
21. On 1 August 2011, at approximately 2:30 a.m., IDF troops entered Qalandia refugee camp to conduct a search and arrest operation targeting three teenagers accused of stone throwing, arson and destruction of property. Some camp residents, alerted to the presence of IDF in the camp, had gathered on the adjacent roofs and started throwing stones at the soldiers. This lasted approximately 30 minutes. The soldiers then left the courtyard, firing several hundred rounds in many directions, while advancing toward the road that leads out of the camp. At the same time in an adjacent street, in which the situation was calm and no stone throwing was taking place, another group of soldiers was making its way towards the group of stranded soldiers, when they came face to face with five unarmed young men. According to the accounts collected by OHCHR, one of the soldiers immediately opened fire in the direction of the young men, killing 25-year-old Ali Hasan Abed Khaleefah and 22-year-old Mo’atasim Essa Othman Odwan and wounding another.
22. On 23 September 2011, in Qusra, in the northern West Bank, an unarmed Palestinian civilian was shot dead by IDF following clashes between settlers and Palestinians. Clashes erupted after IDF refused to remove a group of settlers who had trespassed into privately owned Palestinian land. The soldiers focused their efforts instead on removing the Palestinians. Eyewitness accounts collected by OHCHR indicate that the soldiers formed a line and stood in between the settlers, some of whom were armed, and the Palestinians. IDF used tear gas to disperse the Palestinians, then resorted to rubber bullets against the Palestinians and finally used live fire, which led to the death of 36-year-old Essam Kamal Badran Oudeh, a father of seven children. The use of live fire by IDF was confirmed by its spokesperson.18 It was subsequently reported in the media that the commander of the IDF unit involved in the death of the Palestinian civilian was relieved from his post but remained in the IDF.19
23. The use of live ammunition by IDF at checkpoints in the Occupied Palestinian Territory against unarmed individuals is also cause for concern. For example, on 2 January 2011 an unarmed man crossing the Al-Hamra checkpoint was shot and killed. The man was passing through the security check and had handed over his identification to an Israeli soldier. When he was about to clear the checkpoint, a female soldier who stood behind a concrete block started to shout at him in Hebrew and shot him in the leg. The man fell to the ground. He then got up with his hands up; at this point other soldiers at the checkpoint opened fire. One bullet hit him in the chest. At the arrival of the ambulance crew he was pronounced dead. IDF announced three weeks later that an operational investigation had concluded that the soldiers had acted in conformity with rules of engagement.20
24. On 11 November 2011, an Israeli citizen was driving in the Hebron Governorate. IDF, having received information about a suspicious vehicle, had set up a temporary checkpoint. The vehicle driven by the victim failed to stop at the checkpoint as signalled by the soldiers. One of the soldiers then opened fire in the direction of the vehicle, killing its driver and injuring two passengers. In a press statement IDF indicated that the soldier felt that his life was threatened. IDF ordered an investigation.21
25. As emphasized by the Secretary-General in his report on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/66/356), “the use of firearms against unarmed persons raises serious concerns with regard to the open-fire regulations and training received by the Israeli security forces. In the West Bank, occupying forces act in a law-enforcement capacity. They are bound by article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and should act in accordance with the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials” (para. 15). The use of firearms is authorized in extremely limited circumstances, namely self-defence or defence of others against imminent threat of death or serious injury and only if less extreme means are insufficient.22 The Secretary-General added that “thorough, prompt, independent and impartial investigations of the use of firearms by law enforcement officials, and the taking of appropriate judicial and disciplinary sanctions when necessary, are essential to ensure the accountability of security forces” (para. 17). The circumstances of the killings mentioned above indicate the necessity for Israeli security forces to reassess open-fire regulations with a view to preventing such incidents. Furthermore, the issue of lack of accountability remains a serious concern.