A report published by London-based human rights group Forensic Architecture on Tuesday, February 23 confirmed claims made by the Palestinian Authority and Ahmed Erekat’s family regarding his killing by Israeli forces in June last year. They had called it an “extrajudicial execution” as Erekat posed no threat to Israeli forces or property.
27-year-old Erekat was killed on June 23 at a checkpoint in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank by Israeli soldiers while he was on his way to pick up his mother and sister from a beauty salon on the day of his sister’s wedding.
After shooting him, the Israeli soldiers had also prevented a Red Crescent ambulance from treating him for almost an hour leading to his death. Israel has not released any forensic or autopsy report on his killing so far.
According to the report, which is based on forensic evidence and video footage, Erekat posed no threat to the Israeli soldiers at the time of his killing. The report specifies that he was denied treatment despite him showing signs of life after being shot. The report also rejects the claim that Erekat accelerated his vehicle after being asked to stop and states that at the time of the shooting, the speed of the vehicle remained constant at 15 kilometers/hour.
The Israeli army had claimed that Erekat had attempted to ram his car into a soldier at the checkpoint before he was shot.
In June 2020, Ahmad Erekat was shot dead by Israeli officers after his car crashed into a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. FA worked w/ @alhaq_org to investigate the crash, use of lethal force, denial of medical aid and degrading treatment of his body https://t.co/Zkwua92sLN pic.twitter.com/GJjKur21uV
— Forensic Architecture (@ForensicArchi) February 23, 2021
The Palestinian authorities and Erekat ’s family had objected to the Israeli army’s claims and accused them of coldblooded murder. Ahmed Erekat is the nephew of Saeb Erekat, former secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
Following the publication of the report, his family has appealed to the international community to pressure Israel to release his body which is still in Israeli custody.
Erekat is one of 70 Palestinians whose bodies have not been handed back to their families for proper burial by the Israeli forces. Forensic Architecture has called this a form of “collective punishment,” illegal under international humanitarian law.
For years, Israel has been involved in extrajudicial killings of Palestinians in the name of its security. According to B’Tselem, last year alone, Israel killed at least 27 Palestinians across the occupied territories. Investigations have revealed that in most of the cases, those who were killed did not pose any threat to Israeli forces.