Checkpoint killing shows Israel follows “trigger-happy” policy

Archive photo shows soldiers at a Tulkarm-area checkpoint following the slaying of a Palestinian during an alleged stabbing incident in June 2016.

Nedal Eshtayah APA images

Guards at an Israeli military checkpoint shot and killed a Palestinian man near the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarm on Friday.

Israel’s defense ministry said that a man ran toward the checkpoint with a knife in hand. The ministry added that guards called for the man to stop and opened fire on him when he failed to do so.

Palestinian outlets identified the slain man as Raed al-Bahri, 25:

No Israelis were injured during the incident, as has been the case in so many alleged attacks in which a Palestinian was killed. A photo released by Israel’s defense ministry, showing a black plastic sheet over al-Bahri’s body, indicates that the man was several meters away from the checkpoint when he was killed.

Al-Bahri is the third Palestinian to die by Israeli fire this month. A protester in Gaza was killed and another died of injuries sustained during demonstrations in the territory earlier this year.

Israel has imposed around 100 checkpoints throughout the West Bank. They are frequently the site of deadly violence.

The fatal shooting of Nayfeh Kaabneh, a 50-year-old mother of nine, by guards at Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah was recorded on video last month.

Additional details of her slaying were recently published by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.

According to B’Tselem’s investigation, in the early morning of 18 September, Kaabneh walked along a vehicle lane at the checkpoint and ignored the calls of guards who ordered her to turn back. Palestinian bystanders urged her to turn around, warning that the guards would shoot her.

One of those bystanders recalled the woman saying “get out of my way, I’m here to attack them” as she pulled a knife from her sleeve.

“The guards started shouting at her again and aimed their rifles at her,” the bystander said. “As I was running away, I looked back and saw her waving the knife.”

The guards shot the woman at close range, leaving her to lie on the ground for at least half an hour, “without providing potentially life-saving medical assistance,” according to B’Tselem.

The rights group condemned “the rash, careless shooting of Kaabneh” and ridiculed the notion that the woman posed any immediate threat when she was killed.

“This trigger-happy policy, which is encouraged by government ministers, members of Knesset [Israel’s parliament] and senior defense and law enforcement officials, is still in place after dozens of people have been killed,” B’Tselem added.

Ninety-three Palestinians have died by Israeli fire so far this year.

Ten Israelis died as a result of Palestinian attacks during the same period. However, Israeli prosecutors are walking back the attribution of nationalist motives to the February rape and murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.