West Bank killing ends 3-week break in deadly violence

A man puts ax in plastic evidence bag

Israeli forces inspect the scene near the entrance to al-Arroub refugee camp where a Palestinian man was shot dead after allegedly attempting to attack a soldier with an ax on 14 April.

Wisam Hashlamoun APA images

Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man outside al-Arroub refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Thursday after the man allegedly attempted to hit a soldier in the head with an ax.

The incident was the first such killing since two Palestinians were executed in the nearby city of Hebron three weeks ago.

One of the soldiers involved faces manslaughter charges after he was caught on video shooting the head of one of the men as he lay injured on the ground.

The Palestinian slain on Thursday was identified as 50-year-old Ibrahim Baradiya from the Hebron-area town of Surif.

No Israelis were reported injured during the incident.

12-year-olds detained

Earlier in the day, two Palestinian children, both 12 years old, were detained by Israeli forces.

The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported: “The suspects were searched and three knives were found hidden in the coat of one of the young people along with a farewell letter to his parents, a police spokesman said.”

Palestinians as young as 12 are currently being held by Israel.

An Israeli court upheld the one-year detention of a 12-year-old boy who has been held since November, the Ma’an News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Ali Alqam and his cousin Muawiya, 14, are accused of stabbing and lightly wounding a security guard on a light rail train near Beit Hanina in occupied East Jerusalem on 10 November.

“Ali, who turned 12 in detention, was shot at least three times on the scene and had to undergo surgery to remove a bullet from his stomach,” Ma’an stated. “In November, Muawiya was indicted on charges of attempted murder and possession of a knife.”

Last week, an Israeli military court sentenced a 13-year-old girl from the village of Beit Fajjar to four-and-a-half months in prison after she allegedly attempted to attack soldiers near Hebron.

The girl’s family told Haaretz correspondent Gideon Levy that she was “in a highly emotional state” following the killing of two residents of her town, Ali Jamal Muhammad Taqatqa, 19, and Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Kar Thawabta, 20, after they allegedly attacked a soldier near a West Bank settlement in March.

Video emerged showing the two youths lying on the ground and bleeding, receiving no medical attention, as Israelis in military uniform tended to a soldier who was wounded.

According to Haaretz’s Levy, one of the slain youths was the brother of a classmate of the detained girl, and the other a member of her extended family.

In addition to the prison sentence, the girl was fined 7,000 shekels ($1,860).

“If the fine is not paid – and for this family it’s an absolutely unimaginable amount – [the girl’s] mother, Amna Taqatqa, will be sent to jail for up to seven months: one month for every 1,000 unpaid shekels, for what her daughter did,” Levy stated.

Reprieve in violence

Thursday’s slaying broke a three-week respite in violence that has claimed approximately 200 Palestinian and 30 Israeli lives since the beginning of last October. Most Palestinians were shot dead during what Israel says were attacks or attempted attacks, mainly at West Bank checkpoints and settlements.

Human rights groups have condemned the use of lethal violence as a matter of first resort, saying it amounts to an unofficial shoot-to-kill policy encouraged by Israel’s top leadership.

Earlier this year, Patrick Leahy, head of the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, urged the State Department to investigate alleged extrajudicial executions of Palestinians by Israeli forces and other “possible gross violations of human rights … that may have involved recipients, or potential recipients, of US military assistance.”

At the beginning of this month the Israeli army said the number of Palestinian attacks was on the decline.

Israel’s defense minister Moshe Yaalon credited the intervention of Palestinian Authority security forces in preventing attacks and said that the decline in “Jewish terror” against Palestinians is also a factor.

But Yaalon and Israel’s military establishment anticipate a possible spike in confrontation during “Passover, Independence Day or the month of Ramadan. We’re anticipating a more significant escalation over the holidays,” as a senior military officer told Haaretz.

The past six months of deadly violence followed protests over Israel’s assaults and incursions in occupied East Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound ahead of the Rosh Hashana holiday in September.

Israelis under police protection infiltrated the al-Aqsa compound, sparking confrontations with Palestinian volunteer guards.

In recent weeks, Israeli police have arrested right-wing Jewish Israelis attempting to infiltrate the compound disguised as Muslims.

Meanwhile, a group that seeks to build a Jewish temple at the site of the al-Aqsa compound claimed that it had held a secret Jewish wedding there.

The Temple Movement, which seeks the mosque’s destruction, has received funding from the Israeli government.

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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.