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The bloody cost of apartheid: Israel kills twice in two days

Israeli occupation forces have killed again: the victim this time was Falah Abu Maria, a 52-year-old father shot dead in Beit Ummar, a village in the southern West Bank.

Abu Maria’s death came just a day after 21-year-old Muhammad ‘Alawna had been shot dead near Jenin. Israel has now killed 17 Palestinians in 2015 to date, and wounded dozens more.

Falah Abu Maria was killed during an Israeli arrest raid of his family home, which took place at around 3am. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli soldiers stormed the house, and fired two live rounds at Mohammad, one of Abu Maria’s sons; another son was also injured.

Some reports indicated that Abu Maria was shot in the chest after going to the aid of his wounded son. According to an account given by Haidar, another son, his father was shot dead on his balcony while remonstrating with soldiers positioned outside. A Beit Ummar resident cited by Reuters “said there had not been any clashes and that the shooting took place inside a house.”

An Israeli army spokesperson, however, told news agencies that soldiers “were attacked by a violent mob” during the raid. As the soldiers “left the scene”, they were attacked “once again by a violent mob who hurled rocks and bricks”, and thus responded “with fire towards the main instigator.”

Israel’s Channel 2, presumably relying on a military source, reported that “the fatal shooting occurred when IDF forces were leaving the house, whereupon family members threw blocks at the soldiers.” According to Haaretz, “the soldier claims that he opened fire after rocks were thrown at him.” Other reports said that Abu Maria himself “had attacked the soldiers.”

There is good reason to be sceptical about the Israeli authorities’ version of events: earlier this month, I reported on how video footage had twice exposed the lies told by Israeli security forces following the shootings of Palestinians.

Abu Maria is the third Palestinian to be killed this month by Israeli occupation forces – and the second in just two days. On Wednesday, 21-year-old Muhammad ‘Alawna was shot dead during an Israeli arrest raid in his village near Jenin.

‘Alawna was killed as Israeli forces deployed “stun grenades, live ammunition and tear gas canisters” against local residents throwing stones. In the words of one Israeli newspaper, ‘Alawna “was shot in his chest when he picked up a stone to throw on security forces.” He later died of his wounds.

On July 3, meanwhile, 17-year-old Muhammad Kasbeh was killed by an Israeli army colonel near the Qalandiya checkpoint. The army initially claimed that the senior officer had felt in “mortal danger”; video footage confirmed Palestinian eyewitness accounts that Kasbeh was shot as he fled.

In a grim coincidence, the bloody raid on Beit Ummar took place almost a year to the day since a demonstration in the village against the Gaza onslaught was met with lethal violence.

Around half an hour into the protest on July 25, 2014, Hashem Abu Maria, a father of three and NGO worker, was shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper. “They killed me,” he managed to say, before he died. Shortly afterwards, Sultan Za’qiq was also killed by live ammunition – and, as fellow demonstrator Abdelhamid Breighith was trying to drag him to safety, he too was shot.

Both men were targeted “by a sniper stationed on a rooftop.” In a report on the killings, Human Rights Watch noted how “in the course of half an hour in Beit Ummar, Israeli forces left three families without a father.”

Now another Palestinian family has lost their father, and Israel’s army – with total impunity – continues to kill unarmed civilians. Just three months ago, an Israeli soldier killed 27-year-old Ziyad Awad during a funeral in Beit Ummar. He was shot in the head. Today, hours after killing Falah Abu Maria, Israeli soldiers also attacked his funeral procession, injuring eight with live ammunition.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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