Monday, April 18, 2011

Palestinians enraged after suspects accused in Itamar incident

[ 17/04/2011 - 05:33 PM ]

NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Palestinians have rejected claims by Israeli invesigators after two Palestinian youths were accused of being behind the killing of a family of five Israeli settlers in the Itamar settlement southeast of the West Bank city of Nablus on March 11.
The Israeli claim lacks evidence for the accusations, said Qais Awad, the mayor of Awarta village, where the men were arrested and near where the Itamar village lies.
Police had cracked down on the village for longer than a month, arresting hundreds and searching nearly every home, in search of a clue to the killer. Private land was also confiscated and homes were destroyed during the raids.
Awad said the charges were placed to cover up the continued attacks police have made as they have placed the village in turmoil.
He hinted that the possibility remains that the Israeli forces that seized the village could have fabricated evidence and placed it at the crime scene. He called for the formation of a committee to investigate the charges.
A West Bank council head said that more settlements would be built in response to the killings.
The men arrested were identified as Amjad Mohammed Awad, 19, and Hakim Mazen Awad, 18. Police said they operated individually and stabbed the family of Jewish settlers to death. They claimed that six others who aided them to conceal the knives and burn the cloths allegedly used in the incident were arrested.
Meanwhile, the central Israeli court in Nazareth has submitted an indictment against three Palestinian men for planning to carry out an operation against Israeli targets.
The men were alleged to have planned to form a cell in January 2009 that would have carried out operations against Israeli police and soldiers in response to the Israeli massacres earlier that month.

Family of Awarta teen deny allegations
Published yesterday (updated) 18/04/2011 18:15
AWARTA, West Bank (Ma'an) -- The family of one of two teens charged by Israeli forces in the murder of a settler family last month is contesting the allegations, saying 19-year-old Hakim Awwad was too ill to have carried out the gruesome attack.

Nouf Awwad told Ma'an on Sunday - the day reports of the allegations against her son were made public with the lifting of an Israeli gag-order on the case of the slain settlers - that Hakim was still recovering from a recent surgery, which prevented him from walking long distances and required him to use the toilet every hour.

"We have the medical records, he is in unstable health," she said, adding that the family is gathering the papers to present as evidence in defense of Hakim.

She said Hakim had undergone testicular surgery in November at the Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus.

"He was at home [the night of the murders] and went to bed at 9:30 [p.m.]," she said.

Hakim, who was detained in early April during the third sweep of detentions carried out by Israeli forces, has remained in detention since that time, and has had no contact with his family. Nouf said she "could not rule out" the idea that her son had been tortured and confessed under duress.

The mother said her daughter, Hakim's sister, Julia had also been detained during the month-long series of sweeps. She said Julia had been released exhausted, and said she had been harshly interrogated and put under "severe psychological pressure," and had collapsed more than once during questioning.

Head of the village council Qais Awwad said he suspected much of Israel's investigation had been carried out using torture to extract confessions from residents, and repeated his insistence that international investigators, or at the least observers, be present as the investigation continued.

Hakim was one of two teens from Awarta named in a briefing document obtained by AFP, in which Israel's internal security agency Shin Bet said it had arrested two main suspects and five suspected accomplices.

"The two, residents of the village of Awarta, confessed during the investigation to planning and carrying out the attack and staged a reconstruction," the Shin Bet document said.

Six of the men arrested in connection with the case are members of the Awad family from the village of Awarta, and a seventh, a resident of Ramallah, was a friend of one of the suspected accomplices, the document said.