Maureen Clare Murphy
The Electronic Intifada / January 17, 2023
Israeli occupation forces killed four Palestinians in the West Bank between Saturday and Monday and a fifth person died of injuries sustained earlier in the month.
Soldiers shot Amer Khaled Lutfi al-Khamour in the head in Dheisheh refugee camp outside of Bethlehem early Monday, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine. The boy was declared dead at a hospital later in the day.
The teen is the fourth Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year – and the second child killed in Dheisheh. A total of 14 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli police, soldiers and settlers during that period, all in the West Bank.
On Sunday, Israeli forces shot and killed Ahmad Hasan Kahlah, 45, in front of his son after an altercation developed into a physical confrontation at a flying checkpoint near Silwad village in the central West Bank.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that Kahlah’s shooting death “amounts to an extrajudicial killing.”
The rights group said that before the altercation began, some drivers sounded their vehicle horns in protest of a newly erected Israeli military checkpoint causing traffic to back up in long queues.
Israeli forces fired stun grenades, hitting a vehicle in which Kahlah and his son were traveling.
According to PCHR, the soldiers “pepper sprayed [Kahlah] and his son and forced them to get out of the vehicle.” A verbal altercation turned physical as soldiers assaulted Kahlah, “who tried to flee,” the rights group said.
“Meanwhile, one of the soldiers fired two live bullets at point-blank range at Ahmad Kahlah, though he posed no threat to the soldiers’ lives,” PCHR added. Kahlah, who was shot in the neck, was not responsive when soldiers allowed Palestinian paramedics to provide treatment.
Soldiers prevented paramedics from coming to the aid of Kahlah’s son, Qusai, who was in distress and had inhaled tear gas. Qusai was arrested and later released.
That video, recorded by another person attempting to cross the checkpoint, shows the elder Kahlah in a physical altercation with three soldiers who beat him before opening fire, despite the fact that Kahlah could have been subdued by non-lethal means, PCHR said.
Israel did not confiscate Kahlah’s body as it routinely does in the cases of Palestinians killed in the course of what Israel says were attacks.
The Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported that the Israeli military “later changed its version of events” and said that “soldiers called for [Kahlah] to stop and used tear gas when he refused their order.”
“After refusing to exit his vehicle, the army said that a confrontation ensued, and that he tried to steal a weapon from a soldier and was then shot,” Haaretz added.
Ziad Kahlah, Ahmad’s brother, rejected the Israeli military’s claims and said that Ahmad, the father of four, was an electrical contractor who was running an errand with his son when he was killed.
“Whoever goes to carry out an attack, doesn’t do it with their son,” Ziad said, according to Haaretz.
“If we are not believed, it is a fact that his son was released soon after. It is easy to accuse a Palestinian of being a terrorist and then shoot him in cold blood,” Ziad added.
Palestinian outlets published a family photo of Kahlah and his children following his death:
One day earlier, Israeli forces killed two Palestinians – Izzedine Bassem Hamamreh, 24, and Amjad Adnan Khaliliyeh, 23 – during an alleged firefight near Jaba village south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian armed resistance faction, claimed the two men as members.
That same day, Yazan al-Jaabari, 19, died from his injuries after he was shot during an Israeli military raid in Kafr Dan, also near Jenin. Two other Palestinians, one of them a 17-year-old boy, were killed during that same punitive home demolition raid on 2 January.
Additional bloodshed is all but guaranteed with the appointment of extremist right-wing Israelis representing the most dangerous elements of the settler state to powerful ministerial roles.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Jewish Power party that belongs to Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government, is advancing even looser open-fire regulations.
Ben-Gvir is pushing forward with legislation that would provide legal immunity to soldiers and police for their actions during “security” operations.
This would “codify Israel’s policy of near-blanket impunity to its armed forces in cases involving Palestinians,” according to Adalah, a human rights group.
Despite the near absolute lack of accountability in the deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces, the UK called “on the Israeli authorities to conduct a rapid and transparent investigation” following the killing of Amer al-Khamour on Monday.
The UK’s call amounts to an endorsement of the status quo of blanket impunity. Last year, that situation resulted in more than 200 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military, police and settlers in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel, or who died from injuries sustained in previous years, according to The Electronic Intifada’s monitoring.
Francesca Albanese, the UN special reporter for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said on Monday that “the loss of life is without respite.”
“A protective presence is a critical, unavoidable necessity,” she added.
Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada