Israeli police killed a Palestinian resident of occupied East Jerusalem last month “without justification”, reported human rights NGO B’Tselem yesterday.
Starting in mid-June, Israeli forces began carrying out daily collective punishment raids and systematic harassment in Al-Issawiya, ostensibly in response to stone-throwing by local youths.
On the evening of 27 June, some ten Israel Police and Border Police officers were confronted by local youth, and Israeli forces responded to stone-throwing with black sponge rounds and stun grenades.
According to B’Tselem, Mohammad Samir Obeid, 20, was launching firecrackers at the Israeli forces when one officer “appeared from behind a low masonry wall in the corner of the yard and fired at least one bullet that hit ‘Abeid in the chest”.
Obeid was about ten metres away from the officer who opened fire.
Residents attempted to evacuate Obeid by car, but two Border Police jeeps and a police cruiser pursued them, and “took ‘Abeid [Obeid] at gunpoint”. He was pronounced dead at hospital.
The police kept ‘Obeid’s body from his family for four days, and allowed his funeral to take place subject to his family posting a 50,000 shekel ($14,180) bond and “provided that no Palestinian flags would be raised at the funeral, no firecrackers or shots in the air fired, and no masked men would attend”. After the funeral, “the bond money was returned to the family.”
Following the killing, Israeli occupation forces repeatedly raided the community, “partly to take down flags that had been put up on the streets, tear down posters commemorating ‘Abeid in the mourning tent and remove a stone memorial plaque put up at the spot where he was killed.”
According to the United Nations, from the time Obeid was killed until 8 July, police arrested 65 residents of Al-Issawiya.
B’Tselem stated that “the officers who shot Muhammad ‘Abeid were equipped with protective gear, and they faced no real danger. The shooting was, therefore, unjustified and unlawful.”
The NGO added that the police harassment of Al-Issawiya residents “is an inseparable part of Israel’s policy in East Jerusalem pursued with the objective of securing a demographic majority for Jews in the city. This goal is pursued in part by devoting resources and efforts to making life in the city unbearable for Palestinians, so that they will leave, ostensibly of their own will.”