Funeral of Ms. Berreux and Major Toytunç

TIPH members Catherine Berruex and Turgut Cengiz Toytunç will be buried this week. Details regarding the tragic shooting on Tuesday 26th of March are still uncertain. The Turkish and Swiss governments have sent investigators to monitor and assist the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. (Hebron 02.04.2002)

Catherine Berruex and Turgut Cengiz ToytunçHebron 02.04.2002: Swiss national Catherine Berruex will be buried in Vers L’Eglise on Wednesday the 3rd of April at 14:00 hours. Representatives from the Swiss government and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will attend the funeral together with family and friends. TIPH will be present with Head of Mission, Mr. Arnstein Øverkil, the Swiss TIPH contingent as well as other TIPH members.

Turkish national Major Turgut Cengiz Toytunç was given a state funeral service in Ankara before being buried in Antalya on Thursday. The funeral was attended by Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit and representatives from Parliament and the Military Forces.

Clarification of events

Details regarding the tragic shooting on Tuesday 26th of March are still uncertain. The Turkish and Swiss governments have sent investigators to monitor and assist the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. TIPH is at the moment following-up the incident.

Due to the complex circumstances surrounding the event, several different versions have appeared. The TIPH would therefore like to clarify certain details.

It is clear that the three TIPH members left for Tel Aviv at 20:10 hours on the 26th of March. Just outside Hebron, on bypass road 35, they heard shooting in the immediate vicinity. After stopping, an armed man was observed standing approximately five metres in front of the car. The observers identified themselves to the man in English and Arabic, and pleaded for him not to shoot. A few seconds later the man opened fire through the left window, killing driver Major Toytunç. Observer Berruex, who was in the right front seat, was also hit. Duty Officer Hüseyin Ozarslan was in the back seat, and immediately threw himself down on the floor. He was also hit, either directly or by shrapnel.

The shooting ended after some time. Looking up, Officer Ozarslan ascertained that the gunman had fled. He then alerted TIPH headquarters by phone, requesting an ambulance. He stated that Major Toytunç was dead and that Observer Berruex was possibly dead. He proceeded to take Ms. Berruex out of the car, noticing that she was still breathing.

The Israeli Defence Force arrived shortly after with two jeeps and some Armoured Personnel Carriers. The soldiers began to give first aid to Ms. Berruex, while Officer Ozarslan was taken to an IDF jeep. Shooting then erupted towards the scene of the incident. The IDF soldiers discontinued the treatment, and started retaliating. The IDF then moved the APCs in to protect Ms. Berruex and the TIPH car. After the shooting again stopped, Ms Berruex was found to be dead. Subsequent medical examinations showed that she could not have survived the initial hail of bullets.

An armoured TIPH jeep arrived some minutes later. The patrol found Major Toytunç and Observer Berruex lying dead on the ground. The injured observer had been taken to an IDF ambulance. It was observed that the TIPH vehicle had been hit by several bullets. A TIPH nurse went with Officer Ozarslan to the Sa’arei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem. The bodies of the two killed observers were taken to Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron, escorted by the TIPH Medical Officer. TIPH were present at all times at the hospital.

Major Toytunç and Observer Berruex were taken to their respective countries for autopsies. These results have not been released. Their car was taken to the Israeli police headquarters in Jerusalem, and examined in the presence of TIPH observers with police background.

The official investigation has not yet been concluded. Therefore the information contained in this press release may contain inaccuracies but reflects the current knowledge of TIPH about the events surrounding the attack.

Arnstein Overkil, Head of Mission