Maureen Clare Murphy
The Electronic Intifada / August 21, 2023
A short video clip that circulated on social media on Monday appears to show a Palestinian being shot in the back of the head by an Israeli soldier during a daytime raid in Beita village, south of the West Bank city of Nablus.
The video shows a man walking and then jogging to a group of people evacuating a wounded person when a soldier emerges from behind a corner and shoots the man, who falls to the ground.
The man, who appears to be holding nothing in his hands and has his back turned to the soldier who shoots him, appears to pose no conceivable danger to anyone.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that eight people were injured with live fire and a doctor was arrested during the raid. Dozens of others were injured by tear gas inhalation.
Several Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military in Beita since Evyatar, a Jewish settlement outpost, was established on village land in May 2021.
Evyatar, which was evacuated in 2021, has become a symbolic site for the settlement movement emboldened by top political figures in Benjamin Netanyahu’s extreme-right government.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, kingmaker in Netanyahu’s fragile coalition, urged Jewish settlers to “run for the hilltops” during a visit to Evyatar in June. He called for killing “thousands” of terrorists to “fulfill our great purpose: the land of Israel for the people of Israel” and assured settlers that “we’ve got your back.”
Settler woman killed
Earlier in the day on Monday, an Israeli woman who resided in a settlement was shot and killed while driving in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills. An Israeli man was seriously injured in the same incident and a 12-year-old girl who was also in the car was uninjured.
The Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported that “the gunman fled, prompting Israeli security forces to embark on their second manhunt in three days.”
On Saturday, an Israeli man and his adult son were shot while at a car wash in Huwara, a Palestinian town near Nablus.
Security camera footage of the shooting shows the gunman approaching the Israeli men on foot and shooting them at point-blank range while the employee washing their car runs away.
Haaretz reported that Huwara residents rendered first-aid to the men until the arrival of Israeli paramedics who pronounced them dead at the scene.
“The assailant’s gun was found in an open area several hundred meters from the scene of the shooting, and the shooter is believed to still be in the area,” the paper said on Sunday.
Netanyahu, Gallant blame Iran
Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, Israel’s prime and defense ministers, respectively, blamed Iran for the recent shooting deaths of Israelis in the West Bank.
“We are in the midst of a terrorist onslaught that is being encouraged, directed and financed by Iran and its proxies,” Netanyahu said on Monday.
Gallant said “we will take several actions that will restore security to the citizens of Israel,” adding that “all options are on the table.”
Regardless of what support Iran may or may not give to Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank, the root of the worsening violence in the territory is ultimately Israel’s regime of settler colonization, occupation and apartheid imposed on millions of Palestinians.
Israeli colonization of Palestinian land and settler violence against Palestinians and their property have rapidly accelerated since the beginning of the year when Netanyahu’s ruling coalition took control of the government.
All West Bank settlements are illegal under international law, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its civilian population to occupied territory.
During his briefing to the Security Council on Monday, Tor Wennesland, the UN secretary-general’s Middle East envoy, said that recent months have “witnessed a continuation of the negative trajectory that has marked this conflict for far too long.”
He observed that Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank and Israeli fatalities have this year already surpassed 2022’s total figures.
According to The Electronic Intifada’s tracking, Israeli troops, police and armed civilians have killed 218 Palestinians since the beginning of the year. That figure includes people who died from injuries sustained in previous years.
Thirty-two of those fatalities occurred in Gaza, five in Israel and the rest in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Thirty-four Israelis and people with other nationalities were killed by Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank in the context of the occupation during the same period. That figure also includes people who died from previous injuries.
All but five of those fatalities occurred in the West Bank.
The Electronic Intifada tallied 207 Palestinian fatalities and 31 fatalities among Israelis and other nationals in Israel and the West Bank in 2022.
The partner of Shay Silas Nigrekar, the elder of the two Israelis slain in Huwara on Saturday, said that Nigrekar and his son lived in Ashdod (known by Palestinians as Isdud) but frequently traveled to Huwara and “had friends there.”
Huwara is located on Route 60 between the settlements surrounding Nablus and is a commercial hub due to its central location, with signs in Arabic and Hebrew advertising services.
Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli civilians in separate incidents in Huwara in 2019 and 2017 and numerous others were killed by troops at Israeli military checkpoints in Huwara along Route 60.
Yitzhar, notorious for its population of violent settlers, was established on land belonging to Huwara, whose Palestinian residents have endured frequent attacks by settlers.
In February, settlers went on an hours-long rampage in Huwara after two Israeli brothers were shot dead in the town. A 37-year-old Palestinian man was killed by Israeli occupation forces during the mob violence.
An investigation by the US news broadcaster CNN found that Israeli forces failed to stop the attack in Huwara in February and failed to “protect residents as settlers set fire to Palestinian homes and businesses and blocked emergency services from responding.”
Troops shoot Gaza protester
Meanwhile, east of Gaza City on Monday, a Palestinian was hospitalized after being hit by live fire from the Israeli military. Others were injured from tear gas inhalation during a demonstration marking the anniversary of an arson attack on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.
On this date in 1969, Dennis Michael Rohan, a 28-year-old from Australia, tried to burn down the mosque to allow for Israel to build a temple on the site and usher in the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The blaze destroyed the 800-year wood pulpit known as the Minbar of Saladin.
The status of Al-Aqsa, one of the holiest sites in Islam, is a matter of great sensitivity to Palestinians.
The so-called Temple movement, which has backers in Israel’s government, parliament and religious establishment, seeks to increase the number of Jews visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Temple movement activists ultimately seek the destruction of the Dome of the Rock, housed in the mosque compound, and the construction of a Jewish temple in its place.
On Saturday, Muhammad Abu Asab, 19, died after being shot in the head by Israeli troops three days earlier in Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus.
The Israeli military said that it destroyed an explosives lab and a cache of improvised bombs and neutralized explosives planted on the road to the camp.
Soldiers returned fire toward gunmen during the raid, the military added.
Last Thursday, Israeli forces shot and killed Mustafa al-Kastouni, 32, during a raid in Jenin.
The resistance fighter’s mother said Al-Kastouni was unarmed at the time of the raid.
“According to her,” Haaretz reported, Al-Kastouni “shouted at the soldiers that he wanted to turn himself in, but she claimed they didn’t listen to him.”
Al-Kastouni was shot in the head, chest and stomach.
A 36-year-old clinic worker who was on her way to work was hit and seriously injured by gunfire during the raid.
That same day, Hamza Abu Sneineh, 30, died from injuries sustained during a police raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on 7 March 2021. Abu Sneineh was shot in the face with a rubber-coated bullet, causing multiple skull fractures.
His health had deteriorated in the weeks preceding his death.
Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada