The Electronic Intifada / March 22, 2022
On one morning last week, Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in separate incidents across the occupied West Bank and Israel.
One was a child killed.
Undercover forces belonging to Israel’s Border Police’s Yamam unit snuck into a street adjacent to the Balata refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus in a civilian vehicle on 15 March, according to a report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
The unit, which according to the group arrived in a white Volkswagen van, encircled the home of 22-year-old Ammar Arafat while Israeli military forces entered the camp. The unit detained Arafat and withdrew to the nearby Huwwara checkpoint.
Palestinians chased the Israeli forces, throwing stones at them, PCHR reported. Israeli forces fired live ammunition at Palestinians.
As “a convoy of at least seven armored military vehicles” was withdrawing from the area, a motorcycle carrying two children passed on the other side of the road, according to a field investigation by Defense for Children International-Palestine.
Nader Haitham Fathi Rayyan, 16, was on his way to his brother’s nearby cafe with a friend.
The Israeli vehicles sped in their direction, an eyewitness told DCIP.
Around the same time, two gunshots were fired, according to an earwitness. DCIP was not able to confirm the source or timing of the gunshots.
An eyewitness said the motorcycle broke down, causing the children to flee on foot.
From his armored vehicle, a soldier fired at least three shots at Nader and his friend. At least five soldiers exited the vehicle, chased the boys and fired at least 10 shots at them.
The soldiers returned to their military vehicles and left the area after about 10 minutes.
Nader was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was shot multiple times, including at least two bullets in the back. He is the fourth Palestinian child killed by Israeli occupation forces this year – all within a 30-day period.
The Israeli Border Police claimed that one of the boys allegedly got off the motorcycle and shot at the undercover forces, according to Tel Aviv daily Haaretz.
Nearby surveillance video of the incident, which DCIP used as part of its investigation, shows neither boy shooting at the military vehicles.
The video shows the motorcycle moving on a sidewalk parallel to the street where Israeli armored vehicles are driving by.
As the motorcycle slows down, the boy riding on the back jumps off and immediately runs away. It then comes to a halt, and the other boy who was driving, abandons the motorcycle and flees as well. Israeli military vehicles then stop in the street and soldiers can be seen running in the direction the boys fled.
In a second incident shortly after, a large Israeli force invaded Qalandiya refugee camp near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah from two sides, according to PCHR.
A group of Israeli snipers forced their way into the homes of residents and positioned themselves on rooftops as Israeli forces detained Palestinians.
Palestinian youths rushed from their houses onto the rooftops to defend their camp. They threw empty bottles and stones at Israeli forces, who shot at them with live ammunition.
Israeli forces shot Ala Muhammad al-Shaham, 24, multiple times in the head and on his body as he stood on his rooftop, killing him, PCHR reported.
Six other Palestinians were also wounded by Israeli fire and taken to a nearby hospital.
Local media circulated al-Shaham’s picture following his killing and the large funeral procession for him at the camp:
No Israeli soldiers were injured during either incident mentioned above, as in many previous cases in which Palestinians said to have attacked Israeli forces were killed.
Killings by Israeli occupation forces “have been on the rise,” PCHR said, “including the use of snipers and direct shooting to kill, harm, and cause severe injuries.”
Israeli forces have killed 16 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of the year, including the four children, and injured dozens of others.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces fatally shot 27-year-old Sanad Salem al-Harbad in Rahat, a township in the Naqab (Negev) desert in southern Israel, built decades ago as part of Israel’s plan to forcibly urbanize traditionally nomadic Palestinian Bedouins.
In a joint operation by the Israeli army and Israel’s domestic spying and torture agency Shin Bet, undercover Israeli agents – so-called mistaravim – raided Rahat to arrest Palestinians from the occupied West Bank living in Israel without permits.
Israeli forces claim that one person they were seeking was wanted for “security-related offenses.”
Mistaravim are Israeli agents who disguise themselves as Palestinians to abduct, injure and infiltrate groups of civilians in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli police officer who shot Al-Harbad claimed that the latter pointed a gun at him and he responded with live ammunition. After Al-Harbad fell to the ground, the officer claims that Al-Harbad pointed a gun at him again, so he fired again.
However, paramedics from Israel’s emergency medical service, Magen David Adom, said that Al-Harbad was struck with two bullets in his back and buttocks.
According to Haaretz, this indicates ” that he was facing the opposite direction of the police officer when he was shot” and thus “could contradict the officer’s version of events.”
Additionally, Haaretz noted in an editorial that it was unclear when exactly the undercover agents revealed themselves to Al-Harbad – meaning it could have been following the shooting.
Israel’s justice ministry is investigating the incident, Haaretz said. Israel’s self-investigations almost always result in impunity for personnel who kill or injure Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq filed an urgent appeal over the case of three Palestinians who were extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces in Nablus last month, with United Nations Special Procedures.
This is a group of independent human rights experts tasked with investigating and dealing with such abuses.
On 8 February, the three men were shot and killed without warning in their car without engaging in any hostilities or any hostilities even occurring at the time of the shooting.
Israeli forces traveling in two Volkswagens with Palestinian license plates blocked the men’s vehicle and opened fire.
Al-Haq said the soldiers started firing from the unmarked vehicles, then exited the vehicles and continued shooting at the men’s car.
“The shooting was intensive and continuous,” Al-Haq said. The entire operation lasted 15 minutes.
“No gunshots were seen or heard coming from the car in any direction at any time during the operation.”
Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada