Israelis kill four Palestinians on Christmas Eve

Mourners carry the body of Bilal Zayed, 23, during his funeral in Qalandiya refugee camp on 24 December. 

Shadi Hatem APA images

Four Palestinians were killed by Israelis on Christmas Eve in another week of heightened violence.

Two Israelis were killed during one incident outside Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday in which the two alleged Palestinians attackers, Issa Assaf and Anan Abu Habsa from Qalandiya refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, were also killed.

Israeli media reported that Reuven Biermacher, a 45-year-old rabbi and father of seven children, died of his stabbing wounds. Ofer Ben-Ari, a 46-year-old father of two, died after he was shot by police who were firing on the alleged assailants.

Video of the scene shows a man using a metal bar to strike one of the alleged assailants as he was lying on the ground after being shot. Police and bystanders are then seen kicking the man.

The Tel Aviv daily Haaretz said that a second video “shows that the citizen who hit the assailant with a bar had helped stop the attack. The video also shows the assailant repeatedly stabbing one of the victims – reportedly Biermacher – before he was stopped. A police officer ran to the scene, while two Orthodox men, one young and one old, kicked the attacker who was laying on the ground after having been shot.”

One of the Palestinian men was reported to have been killed on the spot, suggesting that he may have been extrajudicially executed, while the other died later of his wounds.

The Israeli rights group B’Tselem has decried Israel’s “excessive and unwarranted use of lethal gunfire” against alleged perpetrators, what it said amounts to an unwritten “shoot to kill” policy.

Israeli police carry away the body of an alleged Palestinian assailant who was shot dead during a stabbing attack outside Jerusalem’s Old City on 23 December.

Mahfouz Abu Turk APA images

Raid on refugee camp

Two Palestinians killed on Thursday were also from Qalandiya refugee camp.

Bilal Zayed, 23, was killed when Israeli forces raided the camp in the afternoon.

He was hit by live fire when camp residents confronted the soldiers, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Thousands marched in the young man’s funeral in Qalandiya later that day.

Qalandiya camp resident Wisam Abu Ghwaila, 22, was among the three other Palestinians shot dead on Thursday during alleged attacks which injured three Israelis in the West Bank.

Abu Ghwaila was fired on after he allegedly rammed his car into a group of soldiers stationed near the Jerusalem-area settlement Geva Binyamin.

An army spokesperson told Ma’an that one soldier was “very lightly wounded” in the incident.

An hour earlier, Iyad Ideisat, 25, was shot dead after allegedly attempting to stab soldiers, injuring none, with a screwdriver at a checkpoint near Hebron.

Left to bleed

And an hour before that incident, a Palestinian allegedly stabbed and injured two security guards at an industrial park near the settlement of Ariel.

Muhammad Zahran, 22, was killed by Israeli forces at the scene, according to Ma’an.

Israeli media reported that one of the security guards was severely wounded, while the other was moderately injured.

“The assailant, a Palestinian man employed at the industrial park, was shot dead by the victims,” Haaretz stated.

Three other Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces last Friday.

Muhammad Ayyad, 21, was killed after allegedly running his car into a group of soldiers during confrontations in the village of Silwad near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“Ayyad was reportedly left to bleed in his vehicle before an Israeli ambulance arrived, taking his body in a black plastic bag to an unknown destination,” according to the Ma’an News Agency.

Days later, Israeli forces stormed Silwad in preparation to demolish the home of Ayyad’s family.

In October, Israel reinstated its policy of demolishing the homes of alleged attackers or their relatives.

Several homes have been destroyed in recent weeks in what the United Nations and human rights groups have condemned as acts of collective punishment.

Protesters shot in Gaza

Also on Friday, Palestinians in the town of Sinjil, near Ramallah, buried Nashaat Jamal Asfour, 33, after he was critically injured when Israeli forces shot him in the chest during confrontations.

Mourners carry the body of Nashaat Asfour after he was killed by Israeli forces the previous day in the West Bank village of Sinjil, 19 December.

Shadi Hatem APA images

Israeli forces also killed a protester in Gaza that day.

Mahmoud al-Agha, 20, died after he was hit by live fire during confrontations with Israeli soldiers near Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

The health ministry in Gaza said that 31 others were injured by live fire, while nine were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and 14 suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.

At least 20 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since the beginning of October, most of them during demonstrations, according to Ma’an.

The Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah said on Thursday that 135 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of October. Almost two dozen Israelis were slain during the same period.

More than half of the Palestinians killed were shot dead during alleged attacks in which they used their cars, knives and other household items to injure Israelis.

Israel had held the bodies of many of those alleged attackers, preventing their families from burying them. But this week Israel transferred the bodies of several Palestinians, including four children.

Anger bred by occupation

Eyewitness accounts and videos of several incidents cast doubt on Israel’s claims that its forces were under attack when they killed Palestinians.

Israel’s military and intelligence establishment say that most of the alleged attackers operated alone or in pairs, and that only the 1 October slaying of an Israeli couple from a settlement in the northern West Bank was “planned and initiated by a terror group,” Haaretz reported last week.

Twenty-five Palestinians from around the town of Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, were arrested for alleged involvement in a Hamas unit planning bombing attacks in Israel, the state’s domestic spy agency, the Shin Bet, claimed on Wednesday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that “the anger we are witnessing is bred from nearly five decades of Israeli occupation.”

He added that “Palestinian youth in particular are tired of broken promises and they see no light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Bibi has committed so many atrocities against the Palestinian people as he stole their lands he has been forced to try and cover up his war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by actually petitioned the international court to redefine the definitions. Such an act of desperation is a clear admission of guilt by him and the State of Israel. It also begs the question; if by some odd quirk of fate he got those changes, would they not also mean that the suffering of the Jews was no longer legally defined as such either? Or is NutenYahoo assuming that such changes would only apply when Israel is doing them to Muslims and Christians?

Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

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