Israeli troops lethal use of force is ‘extrajudicial execution’ says Addameer


THE Palestinian Civil Liaison on Sunday informed the family of Mohammed al-Rimawi, who was killed due to the excessive use of force by Israeli soldiers during his arrest on September 18, will be handed over by the Israeli authorities later today.

Mohammad Zaghloul Rimawi, 24, died hours after he was detained by Israeli soldiers during an early morning raid at his home in Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah.

The Detainees and Ex-Detainees Commission said the Israeli authorities notified the commission’s lawyer, Mohammed Mahmoud, of their decision to hand over al-Rimawi’s body later on Sunday without giving a specific time.

An autopsy performed on the body of al-Rimawi confirmed that he was beaten to death when he was arrested by Israeli soldiers. The Ramallah-based Addameer human rights organisation said the way the army arrested Rimawi and its excessive use of force against him led to his death.

It said the deceased did not pose any threat to the soldiers to demand using excessive force against him, which is a violation of international humanitarian law that bans use of force against civilians who do not pose any real and direct threat.

It said that use of lethal force in this manner is considered extrajudicial execution.

The health condition of Palestinian political prisoner in Israeli jails Mohammad Saeed Abu Khader has been deteriorating as a result of Israeli medical negligence, according to the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Commission. Abu Khader, 34, has been suffering from a kidney failure, blood contamination and high levels of blood phosphor leading to accelerated heartbeats, all as a result of medical negligence by Israeli prison authorities.

Abu Khader was arrested in August 2001 and is serving a life sentence in Israeli prisons. Deliberate medical negligence is a common punitive measure used against Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails. It is one of the commonly cited motivations for hunger strikers protesting the dismal and cruel conditions endured by detained Palestinians. In 2016, the Palestinian Information Centre said that an estimated 207 Palestinian prisoners had died in Israeli custody since 1967, 126 of whom as a result of medical negligence.

• Meanwhile in a dramatic speech, Syria’s top diplomat has told the world that his country’s ‘battle against terrorism is almost over’ and that, after more than seven years of brutal civil war, Syria is now ready to welcome back the more than 5 million people who fled the country.

Taking the stage to muted applause at the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem slammed international interference in Syria, denied Damascus’ use of chemical weapons and accused the US-led coalition of war crimes.

With only Idlib province still under rebel control, al-Moallem explained confidently that the ‘situation on the ground has become more stable and secure’ and that local reconciliation was well under way. He also thanked the Syrian people for their fortitude during the bloody conflict.

Throughout the speech, al-Moallem emphasised Syria’s right to sovereignty and decried the actions of a US-led coalition battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also known as ISIS or ISIL) for doing ‘everything but fight terrorism’.

He claimed the ‘illegitimate’ coalition, which includes international players along with local and regional opposition forces, destroyed the Syrian city of Raqqa – a former ISIS stronghold – and took part in massacres of civilians, including women and children, as a means of ‘spreading chaos in international relations’ and promoting colonialism and hegemony.

Al-Moallem once again denied findings by UN investigators, which have attributed several of the at least 17 chemical attacks reported during the conflict to government forces. ‘We fully condemn the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances,’ he said, claiming that no unbiased investigation or evidence had been presented to link his government with chemical attacks.

The issue has been a flashpoint at the UN Security Council, with Russia vetoing efforts to investigate the Assad regime fully. Saturday’s speech came as Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have retaken most of territory rebels seized during the war, which has killed more than 400,000 people.

An offensive by government forces on Idlib – the last remaining rebel stronghold – was averted last week when Russia and Turkey reached a deal to establish a demilitarised zone around the province. Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the United Nations, said al-Moallem’s ‘defiant’ speech was intended to send a message to both the Syrian opposition and the international community.

He was telling the Syrian opposition: ‘You’ve lost the war, you’ve got to come back home, you should forget (talking about) the future of Syria without Bashar al-Assad,’ said Ahelbarra.

During the speech, the Syrian foreign minister mentioned ‘occupation forces,’ vowing that the Syrian government will free the country from all ‘illegitimate foreign troops’. ‘He’s saying the presence of Turkish soldiers in the northern part of the country, American and French soldiers in the eastern part of the country, providing assistance to the Kurds is unacceptable and if they don’t pull out from those areas, then the Syrian army has all the legitimate authority to go ahead and liberate those areas,’ said Ahelbarra.

‘In one way or another the international community and all must realise that Assad has emerged as the winner, but the future is not guaranteed for any party in Syria,’ he said. Al-Moallem said that ‘doors are wide open for all Syrians abroad’ to return home and that this will be a priority for Damascus.

Since the conflict began in 2011, some 5.6 million people have fled Syria, with as many as 6.6 million others internally displaced, according to the UN’s refugee agency.

‘Today the situation on the ground is more stable and secure, thanks to combatting terrorism,’ he said. ‘All conditions are now present for the voluntary return of refugees.’

Al-Moallem said Syria welcomes reconstruction aid from any country not involved in ‘aggression’ towards Syria, but those offering conditional assistance were ‘neither invited or welcome to help’. Towards the end of his address, al-Moallem briefly touched on international politics, chastising Israel for its ‘oppressive and aggressive policies’ in Golan Heights and branding the country’s recently-passed nation state law as ‘racist’.

He also slammed the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and withdraw funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

• A senior Israeli official admitted that Russia’s delivery of S-300 anti-aircraft missile defence systems to Damascus will pose a serious ‘challenge’ to the regime, as tensions have been rising between Moscow and Tel Aviv following the downing of a Russian warplane in Syria last month.

The official, whose name was not released in the Sunday report by the Times of Israel, said Tel Aviv was working on ‘different ways’ to deal with Russia’s recent move.

‘The S-300 is a complex challenge for… Israel. We are dealing with the decision in different ways, not necessarily by preventing shipment of the anti-aircraft systems,’ he added.

The official stated that Israel enjoyed the US support and reserved the right to protect itself, without elaboration. ‘Russian President Vladimir Putin made a move, but it’s a big playing field and he understands that,’ the official said.

Moscow vowed to bolster Syria’s air defence capabilities by sending modern S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to the Arab country within two weeks after the recent accidental downing of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft The aircraft was shot down by Syrian air defences while they were responding to a wave of Israeli airstrikes.

Russia’s decision to provide Syria with the S-300 system infuriated Israel, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu describing it as ‘irresponsible’. Netanyahu told Putin in a phone conversation that Israel ‘will continue to do what it has to do to defend itself’.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last Friday that Russia has already started delivering the S-300 system to Syria as part of efforts to ensure the safety of Russian forces in the Arab country. The Russian plane with 15 servicemen on board disappeared from radars on September 17 as four Israeli F-16 warplanes were attacking state institutions in Syria’s Latakia Province, which is home to Russia-run Hmeimim airbase.

Russia’s Defence Ministry held Israel responsible for the incident, saying the regime’s warplanes ‘created a dangerous situation’ that led to the downing of the Russian aircraft by Syria’s S-200 missile defence system. Israel frequently attacks military targets in Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up militant groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.