A Palestinian man died on Tuesday after he was shot by Israeli soldiers while driving in a car with his sister on a road alongside the Halamish settlement in the central occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority foreign ministry called for an immediate investigation into the “extrajudicial execution” of Muhammad Musa, 26, and the injury of his sister, Latifa, 33.
The Israeli army initially claimed that soldiers fired on the vehiclde because they suspected a car ramming attack but later said that soldiers opened fire because the driver did not heed their calls to stop.
No soldiers were injured during the incident.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that “the soldiers who fired at the vehicle did not approach the car after it had come to a halt – neither to check the identity and condition of the injured, nor to make sure whether any potential threat had been removed.”
The Palestinian Authority foreign ministry stated that the siblings were on their way to the city of Ramallah when “all of a sudden they were shot at by Israeli forces without any reason and without posing any threat to the soldiers.”
Atallah Tamimi, who was driving on the road at the same time as the brother and sister, told Haaretz: “They were driving toward Ramallah. There were no soldiers on the road and nobody said or signaled to me or to them to stop. Suddenly I see two soldiers coming out of a tent that was there and they started to shoot at the Suzuki.”
Tamimi said that the soldiers fired at the back of the car.
“The car stopped after a few meters when it got stuck on the shoulder,” he told Haaretz. “The two people who were in the car got out and started to shout that they had been shot. He [Muhammad] had two bullets in his back and his sister had one. She was screaming hysterically.”
Tamimi said that the soldiers made no attempt to come to the wounded persons’ aid.
“I took the woman to the hospital in Ramallah when I saw that 10 minutes had passed and nobody official came who could help,” he said.
Video from the scene shows civilians coming to the aid of Muhammad, seriously injured but still alive and responding to questions:Another video shows paramedics from the Palestine Red Crescent Society providing first aid to Muhammad: Photos from the scene show bullet holes in the car’s windshield and a shattered back window: Muhammad later died of his wounds at an Israeli hospital in Petah Tikva.
A photo of Muhammad circulated on social media after his death:The Red Crescent told media that soldiers had prevented them from treating Latifa.
The siblings’ uncle told Haaretz that “We strongly reject any claim that Muhammad planned to carry out an attack, that’s a lie and a fabrication.”
He added that “someone planning to carry out a terror attack does not bring his sister, a mother of five, into the car.”
Fig leaf probe
The army said that it had launched an internal probe into the incident.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has called such probes “a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation.”
In the last two years dozens of Palestinians have been shot dead in what Israel said were attacks or attempted attacks on soldiers and civilians. Amnesty International has called for several of those incidents to be investigated as possible extrajudicial executions.
An Israeli soldier was convicted of manslaughter after he was shown on video shooting at the head of an incapacitated Palestinian in 2016.
Prior to that conviction, according to the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq, “Since 1987, no Israeli soldier or commander has been convicted of willfully causing the death of a Palestinian in the [occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip].”
Sixty-six Palestinians have died by Israeli fire and in military operations so far this year, around half of them killed in the course of actual, attempted and alleged attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians. Sixteen Israelis and a British national were killed by Palestinians in the same period.
Earlier this month a Palestinian man was shot and wounded by soldiers while he ran across a highway. Soldiers claimed that the man was carrying a knife and running towards soldiers when he was shot, but video from the scene casts doubt on those claims.