Two TIPH members killed near Hebron

Yesterday on 26 March at approx. 20:20 hrs two TIPH members were killed and one injured in a shooting incident on Bypass Road 35 near Halhoul Bridge. The killed were observer Catherine Berruex from Switzerland and Deputy Head of Operation Division Turtug Cengiz Toytunç. (Hebron 27.03.2002)

Two TIPH members killed near HebronHebron 27.03.2002: Yesterday on 26 March at approx. 20:20 hrs two TIPH members were killed and one injured in a shooting incident on Bypass Road 35 near Halhoul Bridge. The killed were observer Catherine Berruex from Switzerland and Deputy Head of Operation Division Turtug Cengiz Toytunç. Observer Hüseyin Ozarslan from Turkey was injured and is in stable condition in a Hospital in Jerusalem.

This morning TIPH was informed about the details of the incident. The three TIPH members left Hebron in a TIPH marked car from TIPH HQ at 20:10 hrs yesterday night. They drove via Halhoul Bridge to Bypass Road 35 in the direction of Tel Aviv. Shortly after reaching Bypass Road 35, the observers heard shooting in front of and above the car and immediately stopped their vehicle. An un-identified man was standing approximately five meters in front of the car. The TIPH members identified themselves by shouting in English and Arabic that they were TIPH observers. Nevertheless, the man regained shooting towards them. When the shooting stopped, one observer was dead and one injured but alive.

At that point the un-injured observer took the injured observer out of the car and informed TIPH HQ. Shortly afterwards the IDF arrives at the spot in two jeeps. At the same time an exchange of fire erupted between that location and a location south of Bypass Road 35. At that time more IDF forces arrived at the spot. After the exchange of fire, the injured observer had been shot dead and the third observer was injured.

When the news of the incident reached TIPH, an armoured TIPH Jeep with a patrol was immediately sent to the scene. At the spot, the patrol found the two TIPH members dead lying on the ground. The injured observer had been taken to an IDF ambulance. The TIPH patrol observed that the TIPH vehicle had been hit by several bullets. A TIPH nurse went with the injured observer to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem in the IDF ambulance. The bodies of the two killed observers were taken to Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron, escorted by TIPH personnel. A TIPH patrol was sent to be present at the hospital at all times, and another patrol was sent to examine the scene of the attack.

TIPH is at the moment following-up the incident. Both the Israeli authorities and the Palestinian authorities are cooperating with TIPH.

Both of the killed TIPH members will be taken to their respective countries for autopsy.

The TIPH vehicle has been taken to be examined at the Israeli police headquarters in the presence of a TIPH observer.

Arnstein Overkil, Head of Mission