Four days after they went missing, the bodies of Mohammed Ahmad Laban,
Mohammed Al Madhoun, 16, and Ahmad Banat, 15, finally arrived. But the
sight of their
lifeless bodies brought only question marks for Palestinians, who have
deep suspicions as to the
boys’ final fate.
According to doctor Muawiyeh Hassanein, director general of Gaza City’s
emergency ward, examination of the bodies showed that Mohammed Luban had
tortured on all parts of his body, in particular the head, which
suffered from wounds and breaks.
No brain was inside the cavity, said Hasanein, nor were there eyes in
the sockets. Only the outer
skin of the face was left. There were also long deep gashes on Luban’s
extremities, most likely
the doing of a sharp instrument such as a knife or axe.
Hasanein says that the boy died from the knife wounds, despite having
been shot first. The
doctor also said Luban was beaten before he was killed. The other boys’
showed similar signs of
torture, with broken bones and long deep gashes apparent on their
Before being delivered to Palestinians on January 2, the three bodies
underwent an autopsy at
Israel’s Abu Kbir forensics center on December 31, according to the
report accompanying them.
In addition, some of the major organs were missing from their bodies.
The three boys disappeared on December 30, when residents of Gaza had
risen to the news that
six citizens were killed in Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun in northern
Gaza. But the identities of
three of those killed remained a mystery until four days later.
By January 2, Al Quds newspaper was reporting that Palestinian Authority
of northern Gaza Colonel Salem Darawna had called on the Americans to
intervene with Israel
for the handing-over of the bodies.
Darawna accused Israel of a cover-up in their delay of the handover. The
Israeli army was busy
saying that the boys had attempted to attack a military outpost with
automatic machineguns and
explosives. Darawna charged that if this were true, Israel would have
handed the bodies over to
the Palestinians immediately.
The mystery was short-lived. On Thursday morning, Israeli authorities
delivered the bodies of
the three teenagers. Their families were shocked. The Shifa hospital
autopsy showed that not
only were signs not consistent with the Israeli story of the armed
clash, but that organs had been
stolen from the bodies without permission of the families.
Hassanein questions why the boys were autopsied in Abu Kbir in this way.
He said that this
kind of medical dissection is usually done to train students on the
methods of autopsy, with
organs being kept for further tests and study. He said that there was no
reason for this kind of
autopsy in this case because the cause of death was very clear. The
three were shot and
wounded, stabbed and beaten to death.
Head of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza Raji Sourani
calls this “a new kind of
Israeli crime for the record.” He says that by all standards of legal
and human rights, this was an
unlawful killing of children. “What we found out after seeing the bodies
was that one of them
was severely disfigured; most likely a tank rolled over it. The other
bodies were also badly
Sourani says that the families of the three boys have commissioned his
center to speak directly
to the Israeli legal advisor and demand that he open an investigation
into the deaths. In
addition, his center has approached the Special Rapporteur for Human
Rights in the Occupied
Territories John Dugard, who deals with such cases.
The families’ suffering has not yet ended. First, they were beside
themselves with no
knowledge of their sons’ whereabouts for the four days before their
deaths were announced.
Then they experienced the shock and outrage at what they saw. Mohammed
since suffered a nervous breakdown and lies in a hospital bed over the
death of her child. While
the three boys once played in the alleys of Sheikh Radwan neighborhood,
they now rest quietly
next to each other in death.
by courtesy & © 2002 The Palestine Report & Ahmad Sublaban
by the same author: