Middle East Eye / January 15, 2023
Eyewitnesses deny Israeli claim that the Palestinian was shot for posing a threat to Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian on Sunday morning near the occupied West Bank town of Silwad, raising the death toll of Palestinians killed this week to nine.
Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers manning a temporary checkpoint at the western entrance of the town shot Ahmed Abdel-Jalil Kahla, 45, at close range after forcing him to exit his car following a verbal altercation, according to Palestinian state news agency WAFA.
The Palestinian health ministry said Kahla was shot in the neck with a live bullet and died in hospital in Ramallah soon after.
The Israeli military initially claimed it killed a Palestinian man who approached the checkpoint near the Ofra Israeli settlement waving a knife at the soldiers, who in turn shot him.
It later changed its statement, saying a “suspicious vehicle refused to stop for a routine inspection” and that its forces “used riot dispersal means in order to detain one of the suspects in the vehicle”.
The Israeli army spokesperson said that soldiers shot Kahla as he tried to seize one of the soldier’s weapons.
Eyewitnesses said Kahla had no intention of carrying out a stabbing attack, adding that the soldiers had fired a stun grenade towards the congestion, which had formed due to the checkpoint, and one of them hit Kahla’s car.
One motorist told Reuters that Kahla then started shouting at the soldiers, and when they approached his car and used pepper spray, he got out, scuffled with them and was shot.
Eyewitnesses also denied Israeli reports that the incident took place during a confrontation where Palestinians were throwing rocks at the soldiers, adding that Kahla was driving with his 18-year-old son Qusai to their construction jobs.
“Soldiers came and they sprayed pepper spray on my face and pulled me out of the car,” Qusai told AFP at the family home in Rammun village.
“I don’t know what happened after that,” he said. “I found out from my uncle that my dad was killed.”
Dozens of Palestinians joined Kahla’s funeral on Sunday, an AFP correspondent said, with some calling for revenge.
The Palestinian foreign ministry called Kahla’s killing as a “heinous execution”, adding that Israel’s new right-wing government has made it “easy for soldiers to kill any Palestinian without them posing any danger to the occupation soldiers”.
The incident comes a day after Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jenin.
Israeli forces have killed 13 Palestinians, including three children, in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the beginning of the year.
At least 167 were killed last year in the occupied Palestinian territory, the highest death toll since the Second Intifada.