Two years after he was shot and paralyzed, Harun Abu Aram succumbed to his wounds

Yuma Patel

Mondoweiss  /  February 14, 2023

In 2021, Harun Abu Aram was shot in his neck at point blank range by Israeli soldiers when he was trying to prevent the confiscation of a communal generator. He was left paralyzed from the neck down.

Two years after he was permanently paralyzed by Israeli forces, Harun Abu Aram, 25, a resident of Masafer Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank, succumbed to his wounds on Tuesday morning, February 14. 

Abu Aram was a resident of Khirbet al-Rakeez, a small hamlet in the South Hebron Hills, or Masafer Yatta, as it is known locally. 

In 2021 Abu Aram was shot in his neck at point blank range by Israeli soldiers during an army raid on his village. Abu Aram was shot after he attempted to prevent soldiers from confiscating a communal generator.

Abu Aram was paralyzed as a result of the shooting, and suffered a series of lung infections and other health problems that caused him to spend months in and out of hospital. 

Eventually Abu Aram’s arteries in his right leg sustained blockages that resulted in the amputation of his leg. According to Palestinian health officials, he was also suffering from “severe pressure ulcers in the back and pelvis, and severe infections in the lungs.”

In January 2021 Israeli forces raided the home of Abu Aram’s neighbor and attempted to confiscate the generator that powered both families’ homes, under the pretext that it was “illegal”. 

Because the families’ homes fall inside the boundaries of an Israeli army ‘firing zone’, the army prevents them from building, or accessing any sort of infrastructural networks, including water and electricity. This includes access to generators to power the small, ancient caves in which they live. 

Shortly after the soldiers arrived, Harun’s father, Rasmi had run down to aid his neighbor, who was attempting to take back hold of the generator. Israeli forces scuffled with Rasmi and his neighbor, striking the two with several blows. Harun ran down to his father’s aid, and began pulling the generator back from the soldiers. 

During the scuffle that ensued, which was fully captured on cellphone video, an Israeli soldier put his gun to Harun’s neck and shot him. According to Harun’s family, Israeli forces refused to call an ambulance to the scene. When the family and neighbors attempted to evacuate Harun to a hospital, the soldiers shot at the tires of their vehicle. 

By the time Harun was able to reach a hospital, a few hours had passed, and doctors informed his parents that he had suffered a severe spinal cord injury. Though he survived, he became paralyzed from the neck down. 

Following the shooting of Harun, who was completely unarmed at the time, the Israeli military conducted an internal investigation, in which it concluded that the soldiers acted in “self-defense” and that they faced a “clear and present risk to their lives.”

Mondoweiss interviewed Harun and his family in 2022. At the time, his mother Farissa said that she did “not want anything from them [Israel],” except justice for her son.

“I want them to let me build a room for him,” she said, referring to the army’s ban on any Palestinian construction in the area, and the fact that just a few months before Harun was shot, the army had destroyed the new home he had built for himself and his fiancé at the time. 

“[I want them] to allow him to have water and electricity,” she continued. “I want the court to give us justice, not to say that a soldier was defending himself.”

Because the Abu Aram family lives inside the boundaries of the firing zone, which was created in the 1980s, long after the family had already been living in the area, they are currently under imminent threat of forcible displacement. 

In January of this year, the new Israeli government announced plans to expedite the forcible transfer of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta, in accordance with an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in May 2022 that denied the residents’ appeals and ruled in favor of the military, closing the book on an extensive legal battle that lasted 20 years in Israeli courts. 

More than 1,200 Palestinians, including the Abu Aram family, are under risk of imminent forcible transfer. If the Palestinians in Masafer Yatta are removed from their land, it would constitute the largest mass displacement of Palestinians since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank. 

Before he died, Harun told Mondoweiss that though he was disabled while “defending his land,” he would do it all over again. “If I got my arms and legs back, I would defend my land again,” he said. “I will never give it up.”

Harun is one of 49 Palestinians killed by Israel in 2023. Separately on Tuesday, another Palestinian, 17-year-old Mahmoud Majed al-Aydi was shot and killed by Israeli forces during a raid on the Al-Faraa refugee camp in the Tubas district of the northern West Bank. 

Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss