Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian father

Israeli forces gather at the site where Iyad Zakariyah Hamad, 38, was shot dead in the West Bank village of Silwad on 26 August.

Shadi Hatem APA images

Israeli forces killed a reportedly unarmed Palestinian man at a military post outside the village of Silwad, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, midday Friday.

An army spokesperson told the Ma’an News Agency that soldiers shot a “suspect” who was running toward them. No soldiers were reported injured.

Palestinian medics were reportedly prevented from accessing the site, according to Ma’an.

Israeli media initially reported that the man was in a car and had fired at soldiers before he was shot dead.

Iyad Hamad with his wife and children. (Via Quds)

The man was identified by Palestinian sources as Iyad Zakariya Hamad, 38.

The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported that “An initial investigation by the IDF [Israeli military] stated that a group of soldiers was patrolling the Silwad area when they saw Hamad rush towards another group of soldier[s] standing near the fortified military pillbox. The onlooking forces, from the ultra-Orthodox unit of the Kfir Brigade, fired warning shots, as is protocol. He was shot dead when [he] continued to run toward the guard post.”

Haaretz added that an initial army probe found that Hamad most likely did not pose a threat to soldiers. According to the paper, army protocol permits soldiers to open fire “if and only if a weapon is identified and the suspect poses a direct and immediate threat.”

The Israeli publication Ynet also reported the soldiers involved in Hamad’s killing were from the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion within the Kfir Brigade.

In June 2015, soldiers from the same unit were caught on video brutally beating Palestinian father Shadi al-Ghabeesh in Jalazone refugee camp near Ramallah. Al-Ghabeesh was then shot by Israeli soldiers in December that year and died of his wounds several weeks later.

Last year, soldiers also believed to be from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion filmed themselves shooting an unarmed person in Silwad as he walked down a street in the village.

Soldiers are a constant presence in the area of Silwad to protect Israelis in the nearby Ofra settlement.

220 Palestinians killed since October

Hamad is the 220nd Palestinian to be killed by Israeli uniformed forces or armed civilians since last October, when a new phase of deadly confrontation began, according to Ma’an. More than 30 Israelis have been killed during that same period.

Dozens of Palestinians were fatally wounded during protests or army raids. Many others were killed during what Israel says were attacks, mainly at checkpoints and settlements in the West Bank.

Mourners carry the body of Iyad Hamad during his funeral in Silwad village after he was slain by Israeli soldiers on 26 August.

Shadi Hatem APA images

On Wednesday, 24-year-old Sari Abu Ghurab was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in the northern West Bank who claimed that they had pursued a car from which rocks were being thrown at passing vehicles, hitting the windshield of a military jeep.

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.

Photos from the scene, however, show Abu Ghurab’s body still seated in the car which he was driving, contradicting the army’s narrative that he had exited the vehicle before he was killed.

Silwad slayings

Iyad Hamad is not the first resident of Silwad to be killed during recent months of escalated deadly violence.

Three youths from the village were shot dead in separate incidents after allegedly ramming their cars into soldiers in December and February.

And on Christmas Day last year, Israeli Border Police riddled the body of Mahdia Hammad with more than a dozen bullets, claiming that the 40-year-old mother of four had tried to run them over.

Hammad’s husband said that his wife was rushing home from visiting her sister in order to feed their baby when she encountered the Israeli forces soon after the town’s regular Friday protests.

Haaretz, along with fieldworkers from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the human rights group B’Tselem, collected testimonies from witnesses of the incident which cast doubt on Israel’s claims.

“Border Policemen signaled her to stop, but she continued to drive, slowly. Then they sprayed her car with bullets,” according to Haaretz.

“When the car came to a halt, another policeman emerged from the perpendicular street, thrust his rifle into the bullet-riddled car and fired another volley into [Hammad’s] head, even though she was certainly dead by then,” Haaretz adds.

Human rights groups have condemned Israel’s use of deadly force as a first resort in such incidents, saying it amounts to an unofficial shoot-to-kill policy encouraged by Israel’s top leadership.

Earlier this year, Patrick Leahy, head of the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, urged the State Department to investigate alleged extrajudicial executions of Palestinians by Israeli forces and other “possible gross violations of human rights … that may have involved recipients, or potential recipients, of US military assistance.”

This year the Obama administration offered Israel the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in the history of the US.

Nearly two years ago in Silwad, a US citizen, 14-year-old Orwa Hammad, was shot dead by Israeli forces.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.