Israeli forces shot and wounded a female Palestinian at the Qalandiya military checkpoint between the occupied West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem on Tuesday.Video of the scene shows the injured young woman lying on the ground, apparently crying out in pain, as armed and uniformed Israelis run around her:
Israeli police told media that the wounded Palestinian is an 18-year-old from occupied East Jerusalem.
Police said that the teenager was shot in the leg when she walked towards a group of civilian security guards and Border Police officers in the area of the checkpoint where vehicles are inspected and failed to respond to calls to stop.
The police claim that a knife was found in her bag.
A police spokesperson told the Ma’an News Agency that the shooters were security guards, suggesting it may have been civilian contractors who wounded the young woman.
A pregnant woman and her 16-year-old brother were shot and killed at the same checkpoint in late April.
Israeli police claimed that the siblings, Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail and Ibrahim Salih Hassan Taha, were carrying knives and attempting to attack soldiers. No Israelis were injured during the incident.
Witnesses contradicted Israel’s version of events, telling the Ma’an News Agency that the pair did not understand the Hebrew orders shouted at them. The Palestine Red Crescent Society told the news agency that Israeli forces denied medics access to the woman and child.
Israel’s justice ministry announced that it would not open an investigation after an initial probe found that the siblings were shot by civilian security guards and not by police.
On Tuesday, the ministry’s police investigation unit said that it would not charge Border Police who were shown on video repeatedly shooting at 20-year-old Muhammad Abu Khalaf outside Jerusalem’s Old City after he had fallen to the ground, killing him.
An Israeli police spokesperson said that Border Police combatants opened fire on the young man after he drew a knife on them. Two officers were lightly wounded after being stabbed in the upper body during the February incident.
An attorney with the human rights group Adalah had called on the justice ministry to open an investigation into the incident, stating that there was no justification for lethal force against Abu Khalaf.
Soldiers friendly with notorious extremist
An Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter after he was caught on video fatally shooting a wounded and prone Palestinian, Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, in the West Bank city of Hebron earlier this year, gave his third day of testimony in court on Tuesday.
Another Palestinian, Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, was slain by another soldier during the incident, but the moment of his killing was not shown on video.
The soldier, Elor Azarya, revealed in court on Sunday that the extremist settler Baruch Marzel enjoys friendly relations with Israeli soldiers stationed in the city, where several hundred hostile Israeli settlers live in close proximity to Palestinians.
“Baruch Marzel would invite us, the whole company, to eat lunch with him every week on Shabbat afternoon. The company commander and the battalion commander would eat with him. It never raised a problem,” Azarya stated, according to the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.
Video from the scene of the Hebron slaying shows Azarya shaking hands with Marzel after he shot al-Sharif.
The US-born Marzel, a former leader of the violent group Kach, is notorious for fomenting attacks on Palestinians.
Kach was outlawed by Israel after one of its members, the US-born medical doctor Baruch Goldstein, gunned down 29 Palestinians at Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque in 1994.
As pointed out by a commentator in Haaretz, Marzel has organized tributes to that massacre and has called for the assassination of Israeli peace activists, and for “holy war” to stop the annual Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, where a woman was stabbed and killed by a Jewish extremist last year.
Azarya protested in court that following the release of the video showing him shooting al-Sharif, then defense minister Moshe Yaalon and the army’s chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot “threw me to the dogs for fear of the journalists, the media, who showed a biased film clip.”
Incidents like Azarya’s shooting of al-Sharif in February had in preceding months become commonplace, with approximately 200 Palestinians being shot and killed since October. The Hebron incident was exceptional for the widespread media coverage it received, and the swift arrest of Azarya.
A Palestinian human rights group accused Israel of arresting Azarya only “to avoid embarrassment in front of the world.”
Al-Haq, based in Ramallah, asserted that both the slaying of al-Sharif, shown on video, and that of al-Qasrawi, which was not recorded, constitute deliberate killings and are thus war crimes.
“The arrest of one soldier and not the other suggests that what the other soldier had done was not a crime because it was not captured on camera,” the group stated.
Al-Haq added that many of the dozens of killings of Palestinians in recent months constitute avoidable cases of extrajudicial executions, at the very least, and that alleged attackers could have been apprehended instead of shot dead.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has also called for full investigation of incidents in which Israeli forces have caused death and injury. And in a rare display of protest, a ranking US Senator, along with 10 members of Congress, called on the State Department to investigate possible extrajudicial executions by Israeli military and police.
B’Tselem, which released the Hebron video, announced this year that it will no longer cooperate with the army’s investigations into human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“We will no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation,” the group’s executive director Hagai El-Ad stated in late May.
Since late 2000, of the 739 cases raised by B’Tselem in which Palestinians were killed, injured or subjected to other abuses, only 25 led to charges against soldiers.
B’Tselem has condemned Israel’s use of lethal force as a matter of first resort in dozens of attacks in recent months, saying it amounts to an unofficial shoot-to-kill policy encouraged by the country’s top leadership.
More than 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and armed civilians since October last year, when a new phase in deadly confrontation reached full swing. More than 30 Israelis, as well as two Americans, a Sudanese national and an Eritrean asylum-seeker, were also slain during that period.