Israel’s well-documented crimes met with silence

Crying woman places hand on forehead of body wrapped in black flag and checkered scarf

The mother of Mahmoud Abu Fanounah mourns during her son’s funeral in the West Bank city of Hebron on 19 March. The youth was shot by Israeli forces during an alleged stabbing attack a day earlier; the family said he was killed in cold blood. 

Wisam Hashlamoun APA images

Six months of violence that have claimed approximately 200 Palestinian and 30 Israeli lives have arisen in a “pre-existing context” of a “decades-long occupation.”

So stated Makarim Wibisono, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

In his final address as special rapporteur – Wibisono resigned earlier this year in protest of Israel’s refusal to grant him access to the West Bank and Gaza – the Indonesian diplomat stated:

“Since assuming this position in the summer of 2014, I have been struck by the abundance of information documenting the violation of international human rights and international humanitarian law and a seeming inability of the international community to match what is known of the situation with more effective protection of Palestinians.”

Wibisono particularly decried Israel’s excessive use of force in the context of alleged attacks, which have resulted in scores of Palestinians being shot dead, including dozens of children.

Videos of suspected executions

Videos have come out on a nearly weekly basis showing Israeli soldiers and vigilantes using deadly force against Palestinians – including schoolgirls – when they pose no immediate danger to anyone’s life, or showing Palestinians bleeding to death on the ground while no attempt is made to administer first aid.

And yet there has been little censure of Israel, save for Sweden’s foreign minister calling for investigation of killings that may amount to extrajudicial executions, raising the ire of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli forces continue to gun down Palestinians each week, claiming that they had attacked or attempted to attack soldiers or civilians. In many instances, no Israelis were reported injured during attacks in which the alleged Palestinian assailant was shot dead.

The aftermath of one of the latest such killings was documented on video, showing Mahmoud Abu Fanounah, 21, lying on the ground and bleeding, while no attempt is made to save his life:

In the video, a voice can be heard claiming in Hebrew that the youth is a “terrorist” who had tried to attack an Israeli “combatant” with a knife.

Abu Fanounah was shot dead on Friday at the Gush Etzion junction – the entrance to the West Bank settlement bloc of the same name that has been the site of several such deadly incidents in recent months.

An Israeli army spokesperson told the Ma’an News Agency that an “assailant armed with a knife exited his vehicle and charged at soldiers” who then opened fire on and killed the man.

No Israelis were injured during the incident.

A witness told the agency that Abu Fanounah, from the nearby West Bank city of Hebron, was not carrying any weapon when he was shot.

Ma’an added that “Hisham Abu Shaqra, a reporter for the Turkish Anadolu News Agency, was detained by Israeli forces after taking footage of the incident.”

Abu Fanounah was returning home from his work in Bethlehem when he was shot dead in cold blood, his family told the Quds news site.

Quds noted that the slain youth’s father, Muhammad Ahmad Abu Fanounah, is a leader with the Islamic Jihad faction in the West Bank and is currently being held without charge or trial under an administrative detention order handed down by an Israeli military court.

Another young Palestinian from Hebron, 18-year-old Abdullah Muhammad al-Ajlouni, was killed the following day.

Israeli police claimed that al-Ajlouni pulled a knife on a soldier at a checkpoint who asked him for his ID card, causing light injuries to the soldier’s head before he was shot dead.

Witnesses told the Ma’an News Agency that Israeli forces “showered” al-Ajlouni with gunfire.

Family refuses frozen body

A Jerusalem family rejected the body of one of its members when it was returned to them by Israel completely frozen late Monday.

“We accepted the preconditions set by the [Israeli] occupation so we can bury him in dignity, and our only demand was that the body shouldn’t be frozen,” the uncle of Hasan Khalid Manasra told Ma’an.

Manasra was shot dead in October when he and his 13-year-old cousin, Ahmad Manasra, allegedly carried out a stabbing attack in the Jerusalem-area settlement of Pisgat Zeev in which two Israelis, aged 13 and 21, were seriously injured.

Ahmad Manasra was hit by a car during the incident and video from the scene shows Israelis cursing him and calling for his death as he lies on the ground, his body distorted due to his grave injuries.

Manasra is currently in Israeli detention and has been charged with attempted murder.

On the same night that Hasan Manasra’s family refused the boy’s frozen body, Israel transferred the remains of Omar Iskafi, who was killed by Israeli police in Jerusalem in December.

Iskafi, 21, was shot dead during an alleged car-ramming and stabbing that left two Israelis lightly injured.

The youth’s family denied that he was attempting any attack when he was slain.

“Israeli forces deployed heavily around the cemetery … during Iskafi’s funeral, as soldiers allowed access into the cemetery only to family members whose names were on a list,” Ma’an reported.

Earlier this month the family of Mutaz Uweisat, a Palestinian boy shot dead by Israeli forces at a Jerusalem-area settlement in October, petitioned Israel’s high court to demand an autopsy.

The boy’s body has been withheld by Israel since then, as the authorities have refused to return the remains of several other slain Jerusalemites to their families.

At one point Israel was withholding the bodies of more than 80 Palestinians killed during alleged attacks as part of a series of repressive measures approved by the government in mid-October.

The head of a Palestinian forensic institute has said that Israel’s treatment of the bodies effectively makes it impossible to carry out an autopsy.

The freezing of the bodies at extreme temperatures “prevents autopsy results that document the crime, which means a loss of important information for bringing Israel in front of the International Criminal Court,” Sabir al-Aloul of the Al-Quds University Institute for Forensic Medicine said in December.



Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.