Israeli forces accused of killing ‘defenseless Palestinian’ man

The car wreck of a 36-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank town of Beit Ijza (Ahmad Gharabli - AFP)

Al-Jazeera  /  September 24, 2022

Israeli forces say the Palestinian man ‘attempted ramming attack’, but the Palestinian foreign ministry says it was a ‘traffic accident’.

Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank after what the army called an “attempted ramming attack”, but the Palestinian authorities have accused Israeli police of intentionally killing the man, identified as Muhammad Ali Hussein Awad.

“The Israeli police deliberately shot Awad, with the aim of killing him, after his vehicle collided with a police vehicle in a traffic accident,” the Palestinian foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The 36-year-old from the West Bank town of Beit Ijza, near Jerusalem, was a “defenseless Palestinian” who was not “posing any danger”, the ministry added.

The Israeli military said a soldier and a police officer saw a vehicle speeding up as it headed straight at them in an apparent attempt to ram into them. The soldier then shot towards the vehicle, it said, and the suspect was “neutralized”.

The victim’s family also contested the Israeli army’s version of the incident, saying the 36-year-old likely lost control of the car, according to Reuters.

Al Jazeera could not immediately verify rival accounts of the incident.

The father of three worked as a teacher in a school in Bir Nabala village, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

His cousin, Ramadan, told WAFA that the Israeli forces opened fire rather than assisting him after the crash.

They have faced criticism over their frequent use of lethal force, including in the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin in May.

Israel has been on high alert in advance of the Jewish holiday season, beginning on Sunday evening with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

Car-ramming incidents and other attacks by Palestinians on Israeli military vehicles at checkpoints have regularly taken place in recent years in the West Bank, which Israel occupied after the 1967 June War.

The northern West Bank – notably Jenin and Nablus – has seen near-daily Israeli military operations since March.

Israel has launched hundreds of raids in the area in pursuit of individuals it accuses of involvement in deadly attacks targeting Israelis.

These raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians and inflamed tensions across Israel and the occupied territories.



Israeli forces fatally shoot Palestinian driver in northern West Bank

Middle East Eye  /  September 24, 2002

The family of the slain 36-year-old father and teacher said he had likely lost control of his car, while Israel’s military accuses the man of attempting a car ramming attack.

Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian motorist in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, the latest casualty in a recent spate of violence.

The Israeli military said the man had tried to ram soldiers but his family said they believed he had lost control of his car in a crash.

The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned the killing, which it said was a deliberate “execution”.

The man has been identified as Mohammad Ali Abu Kafia, a 36-year-old school teacher and father of three.

Speaking to official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Abu Kafia’s cousin has claimed that Israeli forces opened fire after a crash.

“Shortly after the car crash, Israeli police officers who were present at the scene, instead of trying to help the man, opened gunfire at him killing him right away,” the cousin, named only as Ramadan, told the news agency. 

Images from the scene showed a damaged police vehicle next to the Palestinian’s car, which also appears to have been severely damaged.

Middle East Eye could not immediately verify either account.

The incident occurred near the city of Nablus, in the northern West Bank which has been a focal point of several months of violence, one of the worst such surges in several years. 

The Israeli military said a soldier and a police officer saw a vehicle speeding up as it headed straight at them in what it said was an apparent attempt to ram into them. The soldier then shot towards the vehicle, it said, and the suspect was “neutralized”.

The driver’s family confirmed he was dead and said they believed Abu Kafia had likely lost control of his car.

Israel has killed at least 70 Palestinians in the West Bank since its military launched “Operation Breakwater” on 31 March following a string of fatal Palestinian street attacks in Israel. 

US-brokered peace talks between the sides, aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, collapsed in 2014, while Israel has expanded settlements in several areas.