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Erekat meets Livni after Qalandia killings while B'Tselem demands an investigation

February 13, 2014 at 12:07 am

According to Maariv newspaper, the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations resumed yesterday evening despite the killing of three Palestinians in the Qalandiya refugee camp, north of Jerusalem. The paper confirmed that the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, met his counterpart Tzipi Livni as scheduled. Reports of the talks resuming contradict statements by high-ranking Palestinians who had said yesterday that the P.A. was halting the peace parley in protest of the Qalandia killings.

However following the Palestinian announcement, the United States State Department also confirmed that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations would resume as scheduled.

B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, began an investigation into the killings following reports that the Israeli army had used excessive force to arrest a Palestinian security prisoner who had been freed as part of the Shalit prisoners exchange deal in 2011.

Haaretz reported the B’Tselem statement relaying that clashes broke out when ten border police officers attempted to arrest a Palestinian who was recently released from Israeli prison. The camp residents responded by throwing stones and other objects at the troops, who answered with live ammunition. Four armoured military jeeps soon arrived to escort the Israeli forces out of the camp.

According to eyewitnesses, the security forces that carried out the arrests remained in the camp until 7 a.m. on a busy school morning, leading Palestinians to respond by throwing stones.

B’Tselem indicated that past experiences show that when security forces enter into densely populated Palestinian areas this often leads to massive stone throwing, which endangers the soldiers’ lives – a fact that commanders certainly know.

“Given that commanders are well aware of the dangers inherent to these situations, such missions should not end with the killing of three civilians,” B’Tselem said, adding that “Today’s harsh consequences cast doubt on their judgment in ordering the mission and on the degree to which the force was prepared in advance”

B’Tselem demanded an immediate investigation into the incident to examine these issues, particularly the command’s decision to carry out the arrests in this manner and whether or not the troops had prepared for the operation in advance in a manner that prevents the use of lethal arms.

B’Tselem has written a letter demanding that an investigation be opened to the Military Advocate for Operational Matters and to the “SHAI” District Police, which is in charge of investigating suspected breaches of shooting protocol by Border Police.