Israeli forces shot and killed 24-year-old Sari Muhammad Abu Ghurab on a highway in the northern occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
The army said that when soldiers stopped the car, Abu Ghurab exited the vehicle and attempted to stab a soldier in the neck and was shot dead.
A soldier was reported to have been lightly wounded during the incident. He was treated at a hospital and released.
Photos from the scene apparently showing Abu Ghurab’s body still seated in the car which he was driving, and soldiers evacuating his body from the vehicle, appear to contradict the army’s account that Abu Ghurab exited the car before he was shot dead:
The slain youth’s cousin, Saad Abu Ghurab, refuted the army’s claims that Sari had tried to stab soldiers. He told the Palestinian Quds news site that Sari was due to be wed in two months and was getting a new home ready to start his married life. He was also setting up a restaurant in the city of Nablus that he was planning to open in a few days.
“These false allegations are an attempt by the occupation forces to promote [the idea] that he tried to stab a soldier, while the photos prove that he didn’t get out of the car he was driving, and that the occupation soldiers fired bullets directly at his chest,” Saad Abu Ghurab said.
Sari Abu Ghurab was reportedly originally from the village of Qabatiya, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Nearly a dozen youths from Qabatiya have been slain during attacks or alleged attacks since a new phase of deadly confrontations between Palestinians and occupation forces began last autumn.
More than 200 Palestinians and some 30 Israelis have been killed since the beginning of October.
Dozens of Palestinians, many of them children, have been shot dead during attacks and alleged attacks. Video footage of many of the incidents shows that lethal force was used against Palestinians when they posed no immediate, life-threatening danger.
Human rights groups have condemned Israel’s use of deadly force as a matter of first resort in such incidents, saying it amounts to an unofficial shoot-to-kill policy encouraged by Israel’s top leadership.
The frequency of that violence has dropped off in recent weeks, with no attacks or alleged attacks by Palestinians resulting in a fatality in nearly a month.
A Palestinian teenager was shot and killed during a massive army raid on al-Fawwar refugee camp in the southern West Bank city of Hebron last week.
The army claimed at the time that it had entered the camp to search for weapons and arrest wanted persons, but the findings of a Palestinian fieldworker with the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, and reportage by Haaretz newspaper’s Amira Hass suggest this may not have been the case.
“Palestinians in al-Fawwar refugee camp conclude that the Israeli army’s raid this week was an exercise for soldiers,” according to Hass.
“The gap is enormous, the residents believe, between the number of soldiers – three battalions, according to Israeli newspaper reports – and the raid’s meager results: two pistols found in house searches, a commando knife and military equipment like a canteen, flak jacket and helmet the troops probably forgot in previous raids.”
Nor did B’Tselem and Haaretz “find the camp residents for whom three battalions were necessary to issue summons.”
Muhammad Abu Hashhash, 19, was killed 13 hours into the 20-hour raid, according to Haaretz, after “he was shot at the entrance of his family’s home and wounded on the left side below his armpit.”
Residents told Haaretz that the youth was shot from a hole soldiers had made in a wall of the living room of a family whose home they had commandeered, detaining its residents, including small children, with their guns trained on them.
UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, which serves al-Fawwar camp, expressed its “grave concern” over the raid and Abu Hashhash’s slaying.
The agency stated that it “calls on Israel to fully investigate the incident that led to the unfortunate death of the 19-year-old refugee.”
Rights groups have accused Israel of sham probes into killings of Palestinians by its armed forces, with B’Tselem announcing earlier this year that it would “no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation.”