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August 25, 2010

Press release – for immediate release

Human rights group petitions the HCJ:

IDF should investigate the killing of two Palestinian teens

Two 19-year old Palestinian cousins were shot to death at close range
while working at their families' fields by the West Bank village of
Awarta. Although more than 5 months have passed since the
incident, the Military Prosecution has yet to decide whether to open
an investigation

Human rights group Yesh Din petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) today
(Wednesday), demanding that the court order the Military Attorney-General to open
an investigation into the killing of Mohammed Faisal Mahmoud Qawariq and Salah
Mohammed Kamal Qawariq, two Palestinian 19-year old teens, who were shot to
death by IDF forces five months ago.

On March 21st, 2010, the two cousins from the West Bank village of Awarta were
working at their families' fields nearby. "The circumstances of the incident, in which
the two teens were killed from IDF fire, raise the suspicion of a grave criminal
offence. The details of the incident were not clarified, and there's a risk they will
never be clarified, as long as the Military Attorney-General continues to refrain from
deciding on the matter", wrote attorneys Michael Sfard, Emily Schaeffer and Ido
Tamari of the Yesh Din Legal team in their petition.

On the date of the incident, media outlets reported that an attempted "terror attack"
near the village of Awarta has been thwarted. The news reports claimed that the two
cousins dressed up as farmers and using a pitchfork and a broken glass bottle
attempted to attack members of an IDF border police battalion. The bodies of the two
dead teens were brought to Refidiya hospital in Nablus. According to the medical
exam, Mohammed was hit by seven bullets and Salah was hit by three bullets. It
appears that the two were shot from very close range.

The day after the incident and during the following month, contradicting reports were
published in the media regarding the circumstances and details of the incident. In
those reports, several military sources admitted that the nature of this incident was
inconclusive. In one report published two weeks after the incident, General Avi
Mizrahi, the commander of IDF forces in the West Bank, said the outcome of the
incident in Awarta is "grave". According to that report, General Mizrahi and Chief of
Staff Avi Ashkenazi were considering which steps to take against the people involved
in the incident. Nevertheless, no steps have been taken so far, including a decision to
start an investigation.

"Refraining from opening a criminal investigation five months after the incident is
scandalous and will damage any attempt to conduct an effective and thorough
investigation", said the petition, filed on behalf of the parents of the deceased.

The petitioners add that the decision not to open an investigation is a dangerous one,
"which demonstrates to every IDF soldier taking part in security activities in the West
Bank that there's no need to investigate incidents which result in Palestinian deaths ".
Furthermore, this decision also exposes the suspects to investigations and
prosecutions for war crimes according to the Universal Jurisdiction Principle.

Click here for excerpts from the petition

For further information please contact Dana Zimmerman, +972-54-2457682