It is one year since the beginning of a Palestinian youth-driven, anti-colonial revolt characterised by protests and attacks on Israeli forces and settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), along with brutal violence and punitive measures by Israeli authorities.
The timeline is not precise; by October 1, 2015, anti-occupation violence by Palestinians had been gradually on the rise, with ebbs and flows, for a few years. Some have dubbed it the ‘Jerusalem Intifada’. Others have described it as “less than an Intifada and more than a popular blow-up.”
According to a Quds News Network article published this week, 246 Palestinians have been killed over the last year, and a further 18,500 injured. Other sources cite 230 fatalities (Ma’an News Agency) or “more than 225” (Amnesty International).
The majority of Palestinians were killed while conducting attacks, or alleged attacks; in July, for example, the Palestine Red Crescent said that 139 of the then-total 218 fatalities were assailants or alleged assailants (just under two-thirds).
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However, as Associated Press noted earlier this month, “Palestinians have frequently accused Israelis of using excessive force against assailants and said in many cases, alleged assailants were not even attackers.” Such vital information is, regrettably, rarely included in many news agencies’ articles.
Certainly, a number of Palestinians – typically young adults – have carried out attacks over the last year, the overwhelming majority of which have targeted uniformed Israeli occupation forces or settlers in the OPT. Some of these assailants were executed after they no longer posed a threat.
But Israeli forces – including in incidents where the military changed its version of events a number of times – have also killed Palestinians falsely labelled as assailants, as well as Palestinians shot in the context of arrest raids or during the suppression of demonstrations.
It is instructive to note that, even according to the Israeli authorities, the number of Palestinians killed purely in the context of protests and raids over the last year (71) is double the total number of Israelis killed by Palestinians (33, plus two foreign nationals).
Palestinians killed by Israeli armed forces are rarely humanised in the West. In the media, their deaths merit – at best – a couple of paragraphs that always includes the Israeli military spokesperson’s version of events (and often only their version). And then everyone moves on.
Here then, is a snapshot of the human cost of Israel’s apartheid regime, and a few of the stories of those Palestinians who lost their lives over the past year.
‘Abd al-Rahman Obeidallah, 13-years-old. Killed October 5, 2015.
Obeidallah was shot dead by an Israeli soldier in Aida refugee camp, northern Bethlehem. He was standing, observing clashes between residents and occupation forces some 70 metres away, when he was struck with one live bullet to the chest. Obeidallah was one of five children, and his 17-year-old brother Muhammad described him as his “closest friend.” According to his mother Dalal, the young teen had “always dreamed of visiting” an aunt in Jerusalem, but, she added, “we are deprived of visiting Jerusalem.” The Israeli army subsequently claimed that the killing of Obeidallah was “unintentional.” A criminal investigation has been opened by the Israeli Military Advocate General (MAG) into the shooting, but a year on, there is no indication of any conclusion.
Shadi Dawla, 24-years-old. Killed on October 9, 2015.
Shadi was killed when Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators throwing stones at army watchtowers along the border fence east of Gaza City. Six Palestinians were killed that day, and 145 injured, as well-protected Israeli soldiers cut down unarmed protesters with live ammunition. Shadi worked with his father as an electrician, and according to his younger brother, was planning to get married. “[Shadi] wasn’t just my brother”, he said, “he was a good friend. We were always together. We always talked to each other and asked each other for advice.” More than 20 Palestinians, including a child aged 10, have been killed by the Israeli army in Gaza fence protests over the last year. No Israeli investigations have been opened into any of their deaths.
Nur Hassan, 26-years-old. Killed on October 11, 2015.
Nur Hassan, five months pregnant at the time, was killed alongside her three-year-old daughter Rahaf, in an Israeli airstrike on their family home in the a-Zeitun neighbourhood of the Gaza Strip. The house suffered a direct hit, and was completely destroyed. The bombing, which took place in the middle of the night as the family slept, was described by the Israeli military as an attack on “weapon production sites.” The Hassan home was located in a farming area, surrounded by olive and fruit orchards, with which the family made their living. In a widely-viewed video, the surviving father, Yihya, held Rahaf’s body, saying repeatedly, “Wake up, my daughter.” The second child, five-year-old Muhammad, also survived the bombing. There has been no Israeli investigation.
Dania Ershied, 17-years-old. Killed on October 25, 2015.
Ershied was killed at a checkpoint in front of Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque, in what was reported by Israeli authorities to have been an attempted stabbing by a “terrorist.” Eyewitness accounts reported by human rights groups contradict this, however. During a second inspection, Border Police officers began shouting at her to show her knife. According to Amnesty International, “warning shots were fired at her feet, prompting her to step back and raise her hands in the air. She was shouting at the police that she did not have a knife and still had her arms raised when police again opened fire, shooting her six or seven times.” Dania was a pupil at Al-Rayyan Girls’ High in Hebron, and was killed in her school uniform. There is no investigation into her death.
Ra’ed Jaradat, 22-years-old. Killed on October 26, 2015.
Jaradat was killed after attacking Israeli occupation forces outside Beit Einun village near Hebron. He stabbed one soldier before being repeatedly shot, including after he was lying motionless on the ground. Jaradat was an accounting student at Al-Quds University, and hailed from Sair, another Hebron area village. After the killing of Dania Ershied (see above), Jaradat wrote on Facebook: “Imagine if this were your sister!” His bereaved father told journalists: “We live well; my son needed nothing. But the only thing missing in the lives of these youths is freedom.”
Tharwat al-Sharawi, 72-years-old. Killed on November 6, 2015.
Al-Sharawi was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces as she approached a petrol station in Hebron. The Israeli military claimed that the mother of six had attempted a car-ramming attack. Yet a video of the incident reveals that the car was going slow enough for soldiers to easily move out of the way – before they opened heavy fire on the vehicle as it entered the station forecourt. The gunfire, which continued well after she had passed the soldiers, also injured a petrol station employee. Al-Sharawi’s son said his mother was on her way to lunch at her sister’s house. According to Amnesty International, the Israeli forces’ use of lethal violence was illegal even if the grandmother had been carrying out an attack. However, Israel’s MAG decided that no criminal investigation will be opened.
Abdullah Shalaldah, 28-years-old. Killed on November 12, 2015.
Abdullah Shalaldah was killed in a hospital room by Israeli occupation forces disguised as Palestinian civilians (including one pretending to be a pregnant woman in a wheelchair). The soldiers entered a room on the hospital’s third floor, with the intent of arresting a patient, Azzam Shalaldah. As they burst into the room, they shot the patient’s cousin, Abdullah, three times in the head and upper body. The Israeli army claimed he had attacked soldiers, but witnesses said he had been unarmed, and was killed as he came out of the bathroom where he had been washing for prayers. Thousands attended Shalaldah’s funeral in Sair. There is no Israeli military investigation into his death.
Lafi Awad, 22-years-old. Killed on November 13, 2015.
Awad was killed during a demonstration at the Separation Wall in Budrus. After Friday prayers, residents marched towards the Wall, built on village land, where Israeli forces awaited them. After a few hours of clashes, a smaller group of youths approached the Wall, only to be ambushed by soldiers. Awad was grabbed and assaulted, but managed to free himself. As he ran away, an Israeli soldier shot him in the back. Other Israeli soldiers prevented his friends taking him the quickest route to hospital. The Israeli army claimed that a “rioter” tried to grab a soldier’s weapon. Lafi was one of eight children. In 2013, he was arrested and detained for 17 months for helping to destroy surveillance cameras in the hated Wall. No criminal investigation is being opened into his killing.
Mohammed Abu Khalaf, 20-years-old. Killed on February 19, 2016.
Abu Khalaf, from Kafr Aqab in Occupied East Jerusalem, was shot and killed by Israeli forces outside Damascus Gate, after stabbing and wounding two Border Police officers. In video footage captured by an Al Jazeera camera crew who happened to be on the scene at the time, Israeli forces opened heavy fire on Abu Khalaf even once he was lying motionless on the ground. The Israeli authorities held Mohammad’s body for 200 days, only returning him to his family for burial on September 6, 2016. “Today, the pain from the unhealed wound was renewed when we received his body and buried it”, his mother Rula told journalists. Israeli authorities subsequently decided that no charges would be filed against the officers involved.
Anwar Al-Salaymeh, 22-years-old. Killed on July 13, 2016.
Al-Salaymeh was shot to death by Israeli occupation forces as he drove with his friends in a-Ram in the West Bank. The Israeli military claimed that soldiers only opened fire in order to thwart an attempted car-ramming. The surviving passengers, however, said that they had been heading to a bakery and were unaware of the presence of Israeli forces in the area, a version of events supported by evidence gathered by human rights group B’Tselem. Al-Salaymeh, who had got married three months before his death, was on his way to get cookies for his pregnant wife when he was killed. According to his father, Al-Salaymeh “really helped with supporting the family – this is why he left high school and went to work.” There is no investigation being conducted into his killing.
Muhyee al-Din Tabakhi, 10-years-old. Killed on July 19, 2016.
Tabakhi was struck by a so-called black sponge round, fired by Israeli Border Police officers in a-Ram, Occupied East Jerusalem. He died shortly afterwards in hospital. Confrontations between local youths and Israeli forces in the area are common, owing to work being done on the Separation Wall. Shortly before Tabakhi was shot, some youths were throwing stones at a Border Police jeep, prompting an officer to exit the vehicle and give chase. The 10-year-old was shot in the chest from a distance of around 30 metres. An adult who went to his aid was also shot in the hand. An Israeli police spokesperson merely noted that no ‘live fire’ had been used.
Muhammad Abu Hashhash, 19-years-old. Killed on August 16, 2016.
Abu Hashhash was killed by Israeli occupation forces during a brutal, day-long raid of al-Fawwar refugee camp, near Hebron. He was shot in the back the moment he stepped out of his front door, by an Israeli sniper concealed in a Palestinian home about 30-40 metres away. Israeli soldiers had made a small hole in the wall of the house, through which the teenager was shot. Abu Hashhash was a keen football player, in a camp of some 9,500 residents. During that same raid, Israeli forces injured a further 52 other residents, including with live ammunition. At the time of writing, there is no news of an Israeli military investigation into his death.