Injured Palestinian dies after being held up at gate

Palestinains waiting to cross the barrier gate in ‘Azzun ‘Atmah. (B’Tselem/’Abd al-Karim Sa’adi)

On 17 February 2007, around 9:40 P.M., three young men from ‘Azzun ‘Atmah were summoned to help free a car that was stuck in a field in the village. They drove to the area in a tractor without lights. The tractor went up onto a boulder and flipped over. One of the men, ‘Adel ‘Omar, 21, was pinned under the tractor and seriously injured. One of the men ran to the village to get somebody to bring a bigger tractor to aid in the rescue. The bigger tractor then lifted up the tractor under which the man was pinned. The injured man was evacuated in a private car, in order to get him to the hospital in Qalqilya as quickly as possible.

The village of ‘Azzun ‘Atmah is surrounded by the separation barrier, and lies between Israel ‘s green line and the separation barrier. The only way out of the village is through a gate in the barrier, which closes at 10:00 P.M. When the young men reached the gate, it was after ten o’clock. The soldiers had closed the gate and were positioned in the guard tower. For an hour, the young men begged the soldiers to open the gate so they could take their friend to the hospital. Only after the hour passed did the soldiers come down from the tower and verify that a person had been injured and needed emergency medical treatment. It took the soldiers another ten minutes to open the gate.

They men rushed to the hospital. On the way, they checked their friend’s condition and saw that he was moving and was breathing. At the hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The army contends that the injured person was already dead when he reached the gate. The army did not explain the basis for its contention. It is clear, however, that it took the soldiers an hour to come down from the tower (a fact that the army did not deny), and that they were not competent to determine that the man was dead. Following B’Tselem’s exposure of the incident, the army announced that the gate itself would be staffed twenty-four hours a day.

B’Tselem demanded that the Chief Military Prosecutor order the opening of an investigation of the incident.

Related Links:

  • B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
  • BY TOPIC: The Apartheid Wall