The execution of a man at a hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron early Thursday has generated shock even among Palestinians familiar with Israel’s brutality.
At 2:43am, two dozen Israeli gunmen disguised as Palestinians invaded al-Ahli hospital. They included two dressed as women, one as a pregnant woman in a wheelchair, and others wearing fake beards, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
Three of the agents obstructed the hospital entrance and ordered medical staff not to move.
The other Israelis went up to the surgery department on the third floor and detained medical staff.
At around 2:45, five agents, including two disguised as women, raided a patient’s room.
Four gunshots were heard and the agents left, taking 20-year-old Azzam Izzat Shaban al-Shalalda, a patient in the hospital.
In the room they shot dead his 28-year-old cousin Abdallah Azzam Shaban al-Shalalda.
The hospital room slaying brought to at least 75 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the start of October, dozens as a result of Israel’s policy of summary execution encouraged by its top leaders.
Between 5 and 11 November, Israeli forces killed seven Palestinian civilians, including a child and two women, in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
More than 100 Palestinians, including 49 children, were wounded. Amid almost 60 raids into Palestinian communities, Israel arrested 118 Palestinians, including more than two dozen children.
On Friday, unknown assailants shot at a car in the southern occupied West Bank near the Israeli settlement of Otniel.
Two Israeli men were killed and a 16-year-old was moderately injured. These deaths brought to 13 the number of Israelis killed since the start of October.
Israeli occupation forces shot dead two Palestinians during demonstrations on Friday, Ma’an News Agency reported.
Hassan Jihad al-Baw, 23, was shot in the heart during clashes in Halhul, near Hebron. Lafi Yusif Awad was fatally injured with gunfire to the abdomen, in the Ramallah-area village of Budrus.
That same day, 22-year-old Issa al-Shalalda, from the village of Sair near Hebron, died from wounds he sustained a day earlier after being shot during confrontations with Israeli forces.
The protests followed the funeral of Abdallah al-Shalalda, executed by Israeli forces in a hospital the day prior, attended by thousands in the village.
Shot as he emerged from bathroom
Abdallah al-Shalalda suffered three bullet wounds to his head, chest and arm, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
Hospital staff and eyewitnesses, including another al-Shalalda relative, told The Guardian that the Israelis hid guns beneath the agent pretending to be a pregnant woman.
The relative, Bilal al-Shalalda, described the Israeli attack: “It was around 3am and I was asleep when a large number of undercover soldiers arrived. They put the other patients in the corner and tied my hands with a belt. When Abdallah came out of the bathroom where he was washing his hands in preparation for morning prayers they shot him and left him to bleed on the floor.”
Security footage shows the Israeli gunmen entering the hospital. At one point they can be seen pushing a wheelchair down a hallway when suddenly they draw guns and begin running:
Israel claimed that Azzam al-Shalalda was in the hospital to be treated for gunshot wounds he sustained when he allegedly tried to stab an Israeli settler two weeks ago.
The group condemned the raid and said it is “very concerned about the fate of the patient taken away from the hospital and strongly demands to the Israeli authorities to provide adequate medical attention and information on his conditions in the shortest delay.”
“Israeli forces have a long history of carrying out unlawful killings in the occupied Palestinian territories, including extrajudicial executions,” Philip Luther, Middle East program director for Amnesty International, said.
“The fact that Abdullah al-Shalalda was shot in the head and upper body suggests this was an extrajudicial execution, adding to a disturbing pattern of similar recent incidents by Israeli forces in the West Bank which warrant urgent investigation,” Luther added.
“Witnesses report that he was not armed, was some meters away from the soldiers and police and had not attempted to attack them,” according Luther. “There was no attempt to arrest Abdullah al-Shalalda, according to the witnesses, or to use non-lethal alternatives before shooting him dead.”
Amnesty also pointed to the 6 November slaying of 72-year-old Tharwat al-Sharawi, who Israel says tried to run over some of its occupation soldiers in Hebron.
“A video of the incident shows the car which she was driving heading towards the soldiers at a speed slow enough to allow the soldiers to jump out of the way and then begin shooting heavily at the car,” Amnesty said.
While al-Sharawi’s family said their mother was on her way to lunch at a relative’s home, Amnesty stated that even if she had planned to carry out an attack, “the imminent danger had passed and accordingly … the use of lethal force was unlawful.”
Attacks on medical facilities
The murder of Abdallah al-Shalalda and abduction of his cousin Azzam marks the most brazen of a series of Israeli attacks on medical facilities in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
In October, the Palestine Red Crescent Society documented 228 Israeli violations against healthcare facilities, including assaults on medical staff and delays of and attacks on ambulances by Israeli forces, according to the human rights group Al-Haq.
The United Nations and other international bodies have condemned the Israeli attacks on medical facilities as violations of international law and fundamental rights. But governments have taken no action to hold Israel accountable and puncture the impunity it continues to enjoy.