Having documented and published a series of fact sheets and reports on extrajudicial killings in the oPt carried out by the Israeli army since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, Palestinian Center for Human Rights has released its ninth comprehensive report analysing the prevalence of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Israeli army in the oPt from August 2006 to June 2008.
Report with focus on "targeted killings"
The report covers the topic of systematic “targeted killings” employed by the Israeli military against persons it says are suspected to being involved in “terrorist activities against Israel” as a means of standard government policy. The analysis contains statistics, diagrams, testimonies and affidavits.
Extrajudicial killings according to human rights law and IHL
The legal position in regard to extrajudicial executions is outlined in the report both in light of human rights law and IHL. The report states that extrajudicial executions are gross violations of universally agreed human rights that enshrine the right to life in accordance with Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further cemented in Article 6 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. Extrajudicial executions are acts outside the realm of rule of law and hence deprive the targeted individual(s) of their right to life, as well as the right to defend themselves against charges against them.
According to provisions of IHL, people who live under foreign occupation enjoy special protection under Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions. The Article stipulates that
are prohibited at all times and in all circumstances. Civilians are moreover protected against acts that constitute collective punishment. Collective punishment, intentional attacks against civilians and extrajudicial executions constitute war crimes in IHL.
Listing of military operations resulting in extrajudicial executions
The report lists a number of Israeli military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip resulting in extrajudicial executions and bystander deaths during the reporting period:
Outlines the methods used
The PCHR report furthermore outlines the methods used by the Israeli army to carry out extrajudicial targeted killing operations. Methods include launching missiles on targets, employing undercover units and attacking houses. The final part of the report includes a complete list with names of all Palestinians killed in targeted Israeli military operations.
Conclusion of the Israeli High Court
The Israeli High Court in its judgment of December 14, 2006, on the legal aspects of targeted killings under IHL, concluded that, granted certain substantive and procedural requirements have been respected, the policy of “targeting killings” is legal under the law of international armed conflict and that the Government of Israel may continue this practice under certain conditions.
HCPR review of Court decision
The Harvard Programme on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) issued a policy brief reviewing the Court’s decision in May 2007, which concludes that the legal status of targeted executions in international law is still unclear, despite the Court decision, and will continue to incite legal debates.