Israeli violence fails to suppress Palestinian protests for Jerusalem

Palestinian youths confront Israeli soldiers along the Gaza-Israel boundary east of Gaza City on 15 December.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Four Palestinians were killed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday as Israel cracked down on protests against Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

One of those killed, Muhammad Amin Aqel, 18, was accused by Israel of stabbing a soldier before he was shot and fatally wounded at Beit El checkpoint near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

There are multiple videos of the incident, as many journalists were in the area when Aqel was shot.

The above video shows Aqel running towards a group of soldiers, apparently making physical contact. He is shot and falls to the ground while running away from the soldiers and while several meters away from any of them.

The soldiers continue to fire on Aqel as he lies on the ground, far out of reach of any soldier.

Aqel is seen moving on the ground as Palestinian paramedics arrive. The soldiers continue to fire as paramedics attempt to approach Aqel, as slowed down footage of the same moments indicate:

The paramedics manage to reach Aqel about a minute later, put him on a stretcher and load him into the back of an ambulance. A skirmish breaks out between soldiers and a group of people standing near the ambulance.

A journalist narrates the incident as it unfolds in this live video from the scene, which indicates that Aqel was shot twice in the legs, fell to the ground, and then was shot in his upper body:

The narrator says that the soldiers continue to open live fire in Aqel’s direction.

The below video shows the moments before Aqel is shot. An Israeli soldier struggles with his rifle as Aqel backs away from the soldiers before falling to the ground. He grabs his stomach and rolls onto his front, dropping his knife and rolling onto his back:

This video shows soldiers running away from Aqel as he rolls onto his back, revealing what at first glance appears to be an explosives belt as paramedics run to his aid:
A medic who evacuated Aqel told Reuters that the belt was fake – as was also indicated by published photos.

This video shows soldiers detaining the ambulance, and then a group of paramedics carrying away Aqel on a stretcher as a tear gas or stun grenade explodes close behind them:

Oren Ziv, a photographer with the Activestills collective, who was at Beit El on Friday, reported that Aqel “was standing alongside the journalists while filming the demonstration on his phone, ran over to the officers and stabbed one of them with a small knife, wounding him lightly, upon which the officers opened fire and seriously wounded the man.”

Ziv denied reports in the Israeli press that Aqel was wearing a vest identifying him as press.

Ziv said that soldiers prevented Aqel from being evacuated in an ambulance, and so paramedics “carried the man on a stretcher to a nearby private vehicle, which drove him toward Ramallah.”

Aqel later died of his wounds. The stabbed Israeli soldier was reported to have been moderately injured.

Photos of Aqel like this one circulated on social media:

Three protesters were also killed by Israeli forces on Friday.

Bassel Mustafa Muhammad Ibrahim, 29, died after he was shot in the chest by soldiers during confrontations in the town of Anata, near Jerusalem.

Mourners chanted his name during a march in Anata on Friday night:

Photos of Ibrahim were also circulated by Palestinian media:
Two protesters were meanwhile shot and killed during demonstrations along Gaza’s boundary with Israel.

The health ministry in the territory identified the slain men as Yasir Sukkar, 31, a resident of the Shujaiya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City, and Ibrahim Abu Thurayya, 29.

Abu Thurayya, from Beach refugee camp, had lost both of his legs during an Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008.

In recent days photographs and video of him participating in Gaza protests had circulated on social media:

Seventy-seven Palestinians have died by Israeli fire so far this year. Eighteen Israelis were killed by Palestinians in the same period.

Israeli press reported that a rocket was fired towards Israel from Gaza on Friday evening but fell short of its target and hit a building in Beit Hanoun in the north of the Strip.

Sixteen rockets have been fired from Gaza in the week since Trump made his Jerusalem announcement, the Israeli army stated Friday. The military has bombed Gaza several times since then, causing a Palestinian to suffer a fatal heart attack last Friday. Two Palestinian fighters also died in airstrikes that same day.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that nearly 900 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, on Friday, more than 650 of them during protests.

Most of those injuries were caused by tear gas inhalation, while 29 were injured by live fire and 133 by rubber bullets. In Gaza, there were more than 200 injuries reported.

Israeli police used force against a group of Palestinians during a sit-in protest at the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday:

There have been regular sit-ins at Damascus Gate since Trump’s announcement, like this one on Wednesday night:
Palestinians in Jerusalem remained defiant despite Israeli violence, chanting “Jerusalem is Arab” as the Old City swelled with worshippers who had gathered for Friday prayers at al-Aqsa mosque:
This video shows Israeli forces using pepper spray on Palestinian protesters at close quarters:
This video shows Israeli police knocking a Palestinian using crutches to the ground as protesters’ chants are heard in the distance:
They then arrested him:
And then dragged him away:
Meanwhile, Israeli police have in recent days facilitated the provocative visits of hundreds of right-wing Israelis to the al-Aqsa mosque compound:
On Thursday, Israeli police said that they had arrested 77 Palestinians in Jerusalem since Trump’s announcement.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, more than 400 Palestinians were rounded up overnight Tuesday and Wednesday in the largest mass arrest campaign there in years.

A 60-year-old Palestinian woman was reported to have suffered a fatal heart attack after Israeli soldiers threw a stun grenade at her home in al-Zubeidat village near the West Bank town of Jericho overnight Tuesday.

Friday’s events capped a week of violent crackdown on Palestinian protesters.

On Wednesday, undercover Israeli agents disguised as Palestinian protesters were seen detaining demonstrators and aiming their guns at journalists:

Soldiers were also seen forcibly removing demonstrators being treated in an ambulance in Halhoul, a town near the West Bank city of Hebron, on Wednesday:
“The two young girls who were denied medical treatment were 17-year-old Manar Khader Rayan, [who] had an injury caused by a rubber bullet, and 17-year-old Assalah Yousef Rayan,” the Palestinian rights group Addameer stated.

Israeli soldiers were seen on video pulling a student from an ambulance while he was suffering apparent respiratory distress during confrontations between protesters and Israeli forces near Hebron on Tuesday.

In addition to attacking on paramedics, Israeli forces have assaulted media workers, with the Committee to Protect Journalists saying on Wednesday that more than a dozen press workers have been injured by Israeli forces while covering protests over Jerusalem over the past week.

The group also reported that a journalist in Lebanon was beaten by a security officer while covering protests in front of the US embassy.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.