Palestinian killed after alleged Jerusalem screwdriver attack

Hamad Khader al-Sheikh was a law student at Al-Quds University. (via Quds)

Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday after he allegedly stabbed a Border Police officer in the head, causing him light injuries.

A 13-year-old bystander was also wounded during the incident.

The alleged assailant, Hamad Khader al-Sheikh, 21, a law student from the nearby Beit Surik village, was reportedly armed with a screwdriver.

Al-Sheikh was evacuated to a Jerusalem hospital in critical condition, according to an Israeli police spokesperson, where he died of his injuries.

Witnesses told the Ma’an News Agency that al-Sheikh was left on the ground bleeding for 20 minutes. Video from the scene shows Israeli forces pushing away a Palestinian doctor before giving him access to al-Sheikh to administer first aid:

The wounded bystander, identified as Fahmi Juwilis, was walking home from school with his brother when he was hit with a stray bullet fired by Israeli forces, the boy’s father said. The teen “sustained fractures and superficial head wounds,” Ma’an reported, adding that the boy was operated on and his condition is now stable.

100 Palestinians slain

More than 100 Palestinians have been slain by Israeli forces so far this year, 75 of them during actual and alleged attacks. Palestinians have killed eight Israelis, including a girl, during the same period.

This year’s deaths follow a new phase of confrontation that peaked in the last quarter of 2015, with fatal incidents occurring at checkpoints and settlements throughout the West Bank.

Israel is currently withholding the bodies of several Palestinians killed by its forces.

It was reported on Thursday that Israel was set to return the remains of Khalid Bahr Ahmad Bahr to his family in the occupied West Bank village of Beit Ommar the following day.

The Israeli rights group B’Tselem stated that occupation forces “acted without any justification and did not face lethal danger” when they shot Bahr, 15, as he was running away from them in October.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian woman at the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem, accusing her of attempting to run over soldiers.

No injuries were reported.

Evidence contamination

Human rights groups have long decried the impunity afforded to Israel’s forces. Only in exceptionally rare cases are soldiers prosecuted for the killing or injury of a Palestinian.

Senior prosecutors and police officers told the Israeli military that it is often difficult to investigate incidents in which Palestinians are shot because of evidence contamination.

“Nor is this just a problem for the law enforcement agencies, they warned,” the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported this week. “It could also become a serious problem for the army itself, because it could make it harder to defend soldiers in civil or criminal proceedings overseas.”

Israeli prosecutors began examining West Bank incidents in which Palestinians were shot to “prepare for the possibility” of legal proceedings at the International Criminal Court, according to Haaretz.

Israel has a complex legal system with mechanisms for investigating alleged rights abuses committed by the military.

Earlier this year, the rights group B’Tselem called these mechanisms “a fig leaf for the occupation” and stated that it would no longer refer complaints to or cooperate with Israel’s military investigators.

Not even in cases with “overwhelming video and forensic evidence,” such as the shooting death of Nadim Nuwara, 15, in May 2014, are Israeli soldiers punished in accordance with the gravity of their crimes.

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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.