[The following is a press release from the Erekat family on the recent killing of its son, Ahmad Erekat. Read the Arabic version here.]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2020
Contact: Dalal Iriqat
Erekat Family Statement on the extrajudicial killing of its Son, Ahmad Erekat
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.” - Martin Luther King.
Abu Dis, Palestine - The Erekat family mourns the tragic death of our son Ahmad Erekat, who was killed in cold blood by the Israeli occupation on June 23, 2020. Our son Ahmad is the eleventh Palestinian to be killed this year alone, and among hundreds slain in the past two years, as a result of Israel’s extrajudicial shoot-to-kill policy. As individuals, families, international organizations, and states, we must work together to put a stop to Israel’s repeated cold-blooded killings of Palestinians.
In order to ensure an end to Israeli crimes against our people and to help prevent another tragic killing, the Erekat family makes clear the following:
As is evident in the one released video footage, the Israeli military committed four distinct crimes against Ahmad Erekat that are punishable under international law and the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court: One, in the moments leading to his death, the Israeli military used lethal force and shot at Ahmad as he stepped out of his vehicle attempting to put his hands up indicating that he is unarmed and defenseless. Two, after shooting him, the Israeli military left Ahmad to bleed on the ground for more than an hour until his death. Three, the Israeli military prevented the ambulance and medical staff of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society from attending to Ahmad and refused to allow him the medical care needed. Four, as with a number of other Palestinian martyrs, the Israeli military detained Ahmad’s body and is now withholding Ahmad’s corpse as a form of cruel punishment.
Only a few weeks ago on May 30, 2020, Israeli forces shot and killed Iyad Al-Hallak, an autistic thirty-two-year-old Palestinian man from Jerusalem, while he was on his way to his special needs school. Iyad was carrying only a toy in his hands and he ran away from the soldiers out of fear who chased and shot him to death. In 2018, the Israelis also shot and killed Razan Al-Najjar, a paramedic wearing a clearly marked medical staff vest and later doctored a video to suggest that al Najjar represented Hamas and was, therefore, a legitimate military target.
We ask you to not only question the circumstances of Ahmad’s and Iyad’s and Razan’s killings, to name only three of the hundreds killed, but to also reflect on how normalized such killings have become, where another Palestinian tragedy has become a question of when rather than if.
Israel’s murderous practices are utterly devoid of humanity, and we must, therefore, challenge the international community’s acceptance of Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy under the guise of security.
In the course of the so-called, “Knife Intifada,” Israel systematically used lethal force against alleged assailants, citing defensive force. In 2016 alone, Israel killed 95 civilians, including 36 children and labeled the incidents as ‘alleged stabbings’ despite evidence demonstrating the absence of any means to carry out a lethal attack. In its 2017 session, the Human Rights Council concluded that Israel often used lethal force against Palestinians “on mere suspicion or as a precautionary measure.” Finally, human rights organizations have noted that these extrajudicial assassinations are only openly endorsed by Israeli leadership, and “are accompanied by a failure of Israeli authorities to investigate the incidents, a denial of autopsies for the deceased, a failure to release their bodies, and other policies that contribute to an environment of impunity for state violence.”
These killings are taking place in a broader context of apartheid and settler-colonial expansion. So rather than asking about the details of what happened in the moments prior to Ahmad’s death, the more important question to ask is why is there a checkpoint between two Palestinian areas being controlled by Israelis? Why has the international community failed to sanction Israel even after it expanded its colonial settlements, laid claim to East Jerusalem, and is preparing to annex significant tracts of West Bank territory?
In addition to Israeli accountability for its shoot-to-kill policy, the Erekat family demands the following:
- The release of the body of our son Ahmad Erekat in order for us to allow him a proper and dignified burial and to allow our family to bid farewell and mourn in peace. Ahmad’s body is one of 63 bodies of martyrs currently being detained by the Israeli state.
- The release of all recorded audio and video footage available from various angles of the moment of the car accident and the killing of Ahmad Erekat.
- An international investigation into the murder of Ahmad Erekat by the International Criminal Court and the UN Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Killings in order to expose the truth of Israel’s field executions, and achieve justice for Ahmad and the rest of the Palestinian martyrs.
- The immediate international protection for the people of Palestine.
May we build a world where justice prevails for all.
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