Palestinian activist killed in Bethlehem as Israel vows harsher crackdown

Palestinians carry an injured protester during confrontations with Israeli forces near Erez checkpoint in northern Gaza Strip on 13 October.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Warning: This article contains graphic images of violence.

A protester was shot dead by Israeli forces as demonstrations erupted throughout Palestine on Tuesday, while three Israelis were killed in attacks in Jerusalem.

Mutaz Ibrahim Zawahreh, from Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, was fatally shot in the chest with live ammunition during confrontations with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

A source close to his family, who are refugees from the Jerusalem-area village of Deir Aban, destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948, told The Electronic Intifada that the 27-year-old was an accomplished soccer player.

Zawahreh was jailed for his activism, like his father and several siblings. One of Zawahreh’s brothers, Ghassan, recently ended a 40-day hunger strike in an Israeli jail to protest his indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial.

Jerusalem slayings

Alaa Abu Jamal, a Palestinian resident of the Jabal al-Mukabir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, ran his car into a group of Israelis in West Jerusalem on Tuesday morning.

He then got out of the car and began to attack those he had hit with a meat cleaver.

He killed a 40-year-old man and seriously injured another before being taken to a hospital in serious condition, according to Israel’s Ynet.

A video released by Israeli police recorded the incident:

A second video, filmed from a nearby car, appears to show Abu Jamal being shot multiple times:

In an interview with Ynet last November, Abu Jamal praised an attack by a cousin which killed four people in a Jerusalem synagogue.

“This operation was due to the pressures on the Palestinian people and from the occupying forces in Jerusalem,” Abu Jamal said. He also attributed it to the “continuous attacks on al-Aqsa mosque.”

Bus shooting

On Tuesday morning, two Palestinians entered a bus in the Israeli settlement of Armon HaNatziv in occupied East Jerusalem and began to shoot and stab passengers.

Two passengers, aged 60 and 45, were killed, according to Haaretz, and approximately 10 others were injured.

Arab48, a publication for Palestinians in Israel, named the two men who carried out the operation as Bahaa Alayan, 22, and his 28-year-old cousin Bilal Ghanim, both from occupied East Jerusalem.

One of the men was shot dead at the scene and the other was seriously injured.

Two other attacks on Jewish Israelis were reported in Raanana, a town north of Tel Aviv.

In Haifa, one panicked Israeli who had been questioning men on the street to determine if they were Arab, reportedly stabbed another Israeli Jewish man who he believed to be Palestinian.

Nearly 2,000 injured

At least 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers since 1 October, and more than 1,700 injured, according to Palestinian medical sources. Seven Israelis were killed during the same period.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem stated on Tuesday that the Israeli government “bears responsibility for the reality of the occupation.”

“Time and again the government represents the current wave of violence as an eruption of hatred that occurred apart from any background context, one that must be quelled with whatever force necessary,” B’Tselem said.

“At the same time, the government rejects out of hand any responsibility for the situation. Yet the events of recent weeks cannot be viewed in a vacuum, isolated from the reality of the ongoing, daily oppression of 4 million people, with no hope of change in sight,” the group added.

Hundreds injured

More than 400 Palestinians were injured in protests on Tuesday alone, 31 of them with live ammunition, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

At least 50 Palestinians, including journalists, were shot and injured by Israeli forces during protests in central Gaza and near the northern Erez checkpoint on Tuesday afternoon.

The Jerusalem Post reported that at least 30 Palestinians climbed Gaza’s boundary fence and “crossed a short distance into Israel” before being forced back by tear gas.

A video uploaded to YouTube shows youths throwing stones at Israeli military vehicles and being tear gassed after breaching the boundary:

Video of protests at Erez checkpoint shows Palestinian protesters being wounded:

Children arrested

Israeli forces conducted sweeping raids across the West Bank overnight Tuesday, arresting at least 15 Palestinians, including four youths near Bethlehem, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Israeli occupation forces “have detained up to 650 Palestinians since the beginning of October, most of them younger than 20 years old,” Ma’an added, citing the Palestinian Authority committee on prisoners’ affairs.

Undercover Israeli forces worked with uniformed soldiers to arrest and detain students at Hebron University on Tuesday.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an international human rights monitoring group, uploaded a video to Facebook showing Israeli Border Police also ambushing and arresting two schoolchildren, whom CPT identified as Diya, 11, and Omar, 12, in Hebron after school on Tuesday.

The group adds that “five tear gas canisters were fired at other schoolchildren.”

CPT says that the two young boys “were arrested for ‘stone-throwing’ at the towering checkpoint they have passed through their entire lives to reach school and the rooftop occupied by heavily armed soldiers.”

The soldier, CPT explains, was making “provocative hand gestures at the schoolchildren. He was clearly, as ever in this scenario, under no threat.”

The boys were taken to another police station and have since been released, CPT adds. One of the boys reported being “slapped around” by Israeli forces while in the police station.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Salih Manasra, the 13-year-old Palestinian boy who was injured in an Israeli settlement on Monday, remains in critical condition at a Jerusalem hospital. A video showing the child gasping for breath as he bled on the ground was uploaded to social media by an Israeli passerby. His cousin, 15-year-old Hasan Khalid Manasra, was shot dead by police during the same incident.

Bolstering occupation in Jerusalem

While Israeli officials prepare to deploy up to 2,000 paramilitary Border Police reservists in occupied East Jerusalem, ministers “are expected to approve roadblocks on the roads leading to the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem,” according to Haaretz.

The Israeli government is seeking to fast-track punitive demolitions of homes belonging to families of Palestinians accused of attacks against Jewish Israelis.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, who has called for arming Jewish Israeli residents of the city with more weapons, also demanded that the Israeli government seal and lock down Palestinian neighborhoods.

Isaac Herzog, leader of Israel’s ostensibly dovish Labor opposition party, joined Uri Ariel and Naftali Bennett, ministers in the far-right government, in endorsing Barkat’s call.

Ariel and Bennett demanded that the policy be imposed widely across the West Bank.

“No one listened”

Meanwhile, in the streets of Sakhnin, a city in the northern Galilee, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Israel protested:

Haaretz reported that at the rally, Mazen Ghnaim, the mayor of Sakhnin and the acting head of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, a body made up of elected officials from the Palestinian community, demanded the international community “act immediately to attain the rights of the Palestinian people.”

“We warned ahead of time and we said ‘stop the extremists,’ but no one listened,” Ghnaim added. “The Palestinian people went out to protect its rights and for independence and liberation from the occupation. There is no surrender of the basic right to independence and to the freedom of the Palestinian people.”

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Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).