Ben-Gvir praises settlers who killed teen as “heroes”

Palestinians carry the body of 19-year-old Qusai Jamal Mutan during his funeral in the village of Burqa, east of Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank on 5 August.

Ahmad Arouri APA images

The Israeli army opened fire on a car in Jenin on Sunday afternoon, killing three Palestinians.

It is the latest escalation amid an ongoing Israeli rampage against Palestinians, including the killing of a teenager by settlers and the extrajudicial execution of a child by soldiers since Friday.

Meanwhile, Israel’s assaults and land theft continue to provoke retaliatory violence and resistance from Palestinians.

An Israeli army spokesperson claimed the three Palestinians were on their way to carry out an attack, and told media that their killings constituted the “removal of a real and immediate threat.”

According to the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz, the spokesperson claimed the three Palestinians “had planned to carry out a shooting attack from a passing vehicle when they drove into a planned ambush.”

The premeditated ambush on them suggests that their killings may have been extrajudicial executions – a war crime.

The Israeli military claimed it found an M16 rifle in the car, to back up its assertion that this was a “terrorist cell” on its way to carry out an attack. However, it is unclear why a group of three Palestinian resistance fighters on their way to engage in an operation would be carrying only a single weapon between them.

Defense for Children International-Palestine reported on Sunday evening that the three included a child:

The killings may have been an Israeli revenge attack for a shooting by a Palestinian in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening which left an Israeli police officer dead.

A second police officer killed the alleged Palestinian gunman, Kamel Mahmoud Abu Baker, who was from Rummanah, west of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

A report in Israeli media revealed that Abu Baker had been sought by Israeli occupation authorities.

Settlers kill teen

On Friday evening about 20 settlers invaded Burqa, east of Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

The settlers arrived on village land with a herd of sheep and began vandalizing property, prompting Palestinians to try to chase them away.

A Palestinian witness told Haaretz that the settlers were armed. The settlers threw stones at Palestinians and then opened fire indiscriminately.

Two Israeli settlers are suspected of killing 19-year-old Qusai Jamal Mutan, who “was cooking food on a fire and was not involved in the events,” according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Settler fire also injured two other Palestinians, according to PCHR.

“The settler was only five meters away from Mutan when he directly opened fire at him, wounding him with a live bullet in his neck,” one witness told PCHR.

According to Haaretz, one of the suspected shooters was described by an Israeli “security official,” as being a far-right activist who previously worked as a spokesperson for a lawmaker in Israeli national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power party.

That fits the description of Elisha Yered, a settler fanatic who has openly and repeatedly incited ethnic cleansing and genocide against Palestinians.

Yered previously worked as the spokesperson for Limor Son Har-Melech, a Jewish Power lawmaker.

On Sunday Ben-Gvir praised the settlers suspected of killing Mutan as “heroes.”

Yered previously circulated a video on WhatsApp demanding that the Palestinian town of Huwwara be burned. The video, which was shared with Israeli journalists, was titled: “Questions and answers: Why Huwwara should be wiped out?”

In March, Yered tweeted: “I do not back down from the clear statement: the village of Huwwara should be wiped out.”

The same month, Yered expressed dismay that “this village is still standing.”

Yered has supposedly been at the top of the watch list of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security police.

Yet he showed up smiling in an Israeli court where he and another settler were ordered detained for a mere five days – a sharp contrast to the months or years of detention without charge or trial to which Israel routinely subjects Palestinians suspected of “security offenses.”

“The fact that police requested only five additional days of detention for the suspects despite the serious charges they face is considered unusual,” Haaretz reported. “It may be a sign that the case against the suspects is weak.”

Israeli authorities previously released five other settlers detained after the incident.

Yehiel Indore, the other Israeli settler suspected in Mutan’s death, was reportedly injured by a rock. He did not appear in court.

The settlers’ killing of the teen drew formulaic criticisms from Israel’s allies, the United States and Britain, but neither gave any indication that they would move beyond words to any actions to hold Israel accountable.

The European Union envoy to Israel only condemned the killing of the Israeli police officer in Tel Aviv while remaining silent about Israel’s ongoing killings of Palestinians, including the apparent extrajudicial execution of a child on Friday.

Street execution of a child

Early Friday, Israeli occupation forces invaded Tulkarm refugee camp sparking confrontations between the invaders and Palestinians defending the camp.

As the occupation forces were withdrawing, soldiers in an armored vehicle shot 17-year-old Mahmoud Husam Abu Saan from a distance of about 50 meters, according to an investigation by Defense for Children International - Palestine.

“After Mahmoud was shot, he fell to the ground screaming,” the rights group said. “Israeli forces inside the same Israeli military vehicle approached and opened fire again, shooting him in the head from a distance of three meters (10 feet).”

The teenager was taken to a hospital in a private car, where doctors pronounced him dead.

“To shoot him again in the head at point-blank range when he was incapacitated amounts to an extrajudicial killing and a flagrant display of the impunity enjoyed by Israeli forces,” DCIP’s Ayed Abu Eqtaish said.

Abu Saan is the second Palestinian child killed by Israeli occupation forces since the start of the month.

On 1 August, Israeli forces killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy and took away his body.

Two Israeli soldiers approached Muhammad Farid Shawqi al-Zaarir while he was walking near a bus station on Route 60, near an Israeli settlement outpost south of Hebron. According to DCIP, the Israeli military claims al-Zaarir tried to stab the soldiers before they opened fire and killed him.

As of this writing, the human rights organization has been unable to determine how many bullet wounds Muhammad received, where on his body they were, whether he was left to bleed or if he received any medical attention.

“Israel is the only country in the world with a policy of confiscating human remains,” Abu Eqtaish said.

“Without releasing his body, there can be no independent autopsy to confirm how Muhammad was killed.”

Abu al-Zaarir is among 17 children whose bodies Israeli occupation forces confiscated after they were killed, since June 2016. Only three of those bodies have been returned to their families for burial.

Since the start of the year, 38 Palestinian children have been killed in violence related to Israel’s military occupation, according to DCIP.



Is there nothing more they can do than issue well-versed but spineless statements ?

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.