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Barghouthi: Barak should be tried for war crimes after Bethlehem shooting

March 14, 2008 3:02 P.M. (Updated: March 14, 2008 3:02 P.M.)
Ramallah - Ma'an - "Ehud Barak's actions are those of a war criminal, one who should be tried in an international court for crimes against humanity," said Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) Secretary General Mustafa Barghouthi on Thursday.

Barghouthi, the former Palestinian information minister, dismissed a statement by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak that the killing of four Palestinians by an undercover Israeli forces in Bethlehem early on Wednesday evening, demonstrated Israel's commitment to "pursue and strike all killers with Jewish blood on their hands."

"Barak is directly responsible for the recent massacre of scores of Palestinian civilians, including 31 children, in the Gaza Strip. Now he is intensifying killings in the West Bank to provoke a reaction from armed Palestinian groups, in order to justify the massive violations of human rights and international law perpetrated against the Palestinian people under his orders," Barghouthi said.

Mohammad Shehada, Imad Al-Kamel, Issa Marzouk and Ahmad Balboul

were ambushed by an undercover Israeli death squad last night and shot

to death as they waited in a car outside a bakery.

Media reports describe how undercover Israeli forces sprayed the car with bullets once, then moved closer to the car and opened fire again to make sure that the men were dead.

"Such killings are a form of extra-judicial execution, which are illegal under Article Three of the Fourth Geneva Convention. They are wilful killings and thus qualify as war crimes under the same Convention," said Dr. Barghouthi.

"If Israel has credible evidence that certain individuals are involved in criminal activity, it may arrest, charge and try them in a court of law," he added, referring to two of the men's membership of the Islamic Jihad movement. "Instead, the Israeli military makes of itself, "prosecutor, judge and executioner," concluded Barghouthi.

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