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Operation Pillar of Defense: The killing of Ahmad Abu Naqirah, 61, a-Shaburah Refugee Camp, 18 November 2012

Update: In its response to B’Tselem’s report, the MAG Corps stated it would not launch an investigation of the circumstances due to the absence of suspicion of a criminal offense or a well-founded suspicion of a breach of the laws of armed conflict.

18 November 2012: The killing of Ahmad Abu Naqirah, 61, a-Shaburah Refugee Camp Ahmad Abu Naqirah, 61, was killed on 18 November 2012 in a-Shaburah Refugee Camp, Rafah District, when the Israeli military bombed the house of Hamas activist Dib Abu Naqirah. Maryam and Ahmad Abu Naqirah and four of their children lived in a-Shaburah Refugee Camp in Rafah, near the home of Hamas activist ‘Atiyyah Abu Naqirah. On 16 November 2012, two days into Operation Pillar of Defense, worried that the Israeli military might try to target their neighbor’s home, the family moved about two hundred meters away, to the home of another of their sons, ‘Abdallah. Ahmad Abu Naqirah, the family patriarch, remained alone in his home, saying he did not feel comfortable sleeping anywhere else.

The following evening, 17 November 2012, ‘Atiyyah Abu Naqirah’s wife received a telephone call from an Israeli voice, telling her to vacate her house immediately. About fifteen minutes later, four small missiles were fired at her house – apparently what the military calls “warning missiles.” Ahmad Abu Naqirah’s sons hurried home and got their father out of there. Another fifteen minutes or so passed before the military bombed and destroyed ‘Atiyyah Abu Naqirah’s house. A few nearby houses, including Ahmad Abu Naqirah’s, were also destroyed. The family returned to the home of ‘Abdallah, the son. The father, Ahmad Abu Naqirah, went to sleep on farmland where he raised sheep. This land is near the home of Dib Abu Naqirah, also a Hamas activist.

Before sunrise on the morning of the next day, 18 November 2012, another resident of the area, Muhammad Abu Naqirah, received a telephone call from a person who introduced himself as a member of Israel’s intelligence services. The man instructed Muhmmad Abu Naqirah to notify his neighbour, Dib Abu Naqirah, that his house would be bombed in five minutes. Muhammad Abu Naqirah asked the caller to postpone the bombing for ten minutes because his neighbor’s house was distant. The caller agreed. Five minutes later, before Muhammad Abu Naqirah had managed to warn his neighbors, the caller phoned once more and repeated his instructions that Muhmmad Abu Naqira tell the family to vacate their house. Muhammad Abu Naqirah left his house and shouted that the military was planning to shell the house. This is his account of what ensued:

Muhammad Abu Naqira. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 7 Feb. 2013The Dib Abu Naqirahs and all the residents in the area began leaving their homes. The street filled with people. Women and children, old people and young people. The women were carrying small children in their arms. The men were carrying belongings they had taken from their homes. Each person was absorbed in himself and his family. Everything was in chaos. The situation was frightening and tense. Everyone was trying to get away from the area and to find a safe place to shelter. Then I heard an explosion. Dib Abu Naqirah’s house had been bombed. It was a small missile and about three minutes later the military fired on the house again. The house was three stories high. There was a powerful explosion and a lot of damage. The street filled with smoke and dust and the house was completely destroyed.

The entire contents of the house scattered on the street. The explosion completely destroyed another five houses and partially destroyed six others. After the smoke and dust cleared, I managed to see what had happened. I walked toward the house and then found Ahmad Abu Naqirah. He was lying on the ground, seriously wounded.

Ahmad Abu Naqirah was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

B’Tselem applied to the IDF Spokesperson for further information about the circumstances of the incident. In response, the Military Advocate for Operational Matters informed B’Tselem on 11 April 2013 that the case-file had been closed once “no suspicion of a criminal offense or a well-founded suspicion of violation of laws of war by any military entity had been found”. The response was given without any accompanying information to support this conclusion.