West Bank: Iconic Palestinian activist dies after being run over by Israeli forces

Suleiman al-Hathalin pictured in a protests against settlements and land confiscation, near Yatta village south of Hebron-Al-Khalil (AFP)

Shatha Hammad

Middle East Eye  /  January 17, 2022

Palestinian activist Suleiman al-Hathalin dies at Hebron/Al-Khalil hospital two weeks after police truck ran him over.

Prominent Palestinian activist Suleiman al-Hathalin succumbed on Monday to wounds sustained when an Israeli police tow truck ran him over two weeks ago

Hathalin was receiving treatment for serious wounds he sustained to the head, chest, abdomen and pelvis at Al-Mizan Hospital in Hebron in the occupied West Bank, where he was pronounced dead this morning.

The 75-year-old activist and community leader from Masafer Yatta, a collection of Palestinian hamlets in the South Hebron Hills, was run over by an Israeli tow truck on 5 January. 

Police arrived in Umm al-Khair village in Masafer Yatta to seize unregistered and allegedly stolen vehicles. 

After locals tried to stop the tow trucks, Israeli police fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the crowds. 

Fouad al-Hmour, an activist with the popular resistance committee in Masafer Yatta, told Middle East Eye at the time that Suleiman was “standing on the side of the road when the tow truck suddenly veered off the road and drove straight into him”.

Hmour said the tow truck belonged to a private company and was being operated by an Israeli civilian, whom people in the village recognized as a Jewish settler from the area. The tow trucks and the police quickly fled the scene after the incident. 

Hathalin, known locally as Haj Suleiman, is an iconic, anti-occupation activist from Hebron, who constantly led demonstrations against the occupation. 

His family hails from the Arad area south of the West Bank. He has lived in Umm al-Khair since 1965, when he purchased a plot of land there.

Since the establishment of the Israel settlement Carmel on parts of Umm al-Khair in 1980, Hathalin has led protests against its expansion, which threatened the displacement of the village’s residents. 

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates denounced the “criminal execution of Hathalin”, saying it will take his case to the International Criminal Court and relevant UN bodies.

“This is another episode in a series of field executions carried out by the occupation forces that follows the directives of the political and military leadership of this occupying country,” the ministry said. 

“It is a reflection of the brutality and racism of the occupation in its suppression and abuse of defenceless Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful marches in defence of their lands in the face of settlements and settlers.” 

Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, is considered illegal under international law. 

As of 2019, there are more than 688,000 Jewish settlers living in 150 Jewish settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Shatha Hammad is a Palestinian freelance journalist