Random killing of civilians by Israeli occupation forces in Ramallah

The following information was reported to me by telephone from Jerusalem by Jeff Guntzel of the Chicago-based group Voices in the Wilderness, who had left the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. Guntzel and a group of internationals had travelled to Ramallah and visited the Sheikh Zayed hospital. Guntzel said that they entered the city over back roads and hills.

Guntzel reported that two civilians were shot dead by Israeli occupation forces today in the following circumstances:

Manal Sami Ibrahim, 28 years-old, was standing near a window in her apartment when she was killed by a sniper’s bullet through her heart in front of her three children and her husband. Guntzel and the other Internationals were at the Sheikh Zayed hospital when her ambulance arrived.

A 23-year-old mentally retarded man apparently wandered out of the hospital. An eyewitness saw him being chased by 11 Israeli soldiers who shot him dead.

While Guntzel was at the hospital, a body was brought in that had been dead for 7-15 days. Examination revealed that a bullet had entered through the man’s buttocks and exited through his head.

Reports of the dead are still being compiled, but it appears that dozens have been killed.

Guntzel said:

“There were 29 people buried in the mass grave in the hospital parking lot because the morgue was full. The morgue is very small and only holds something like ten people. The morgue is almost full again, all people who did not die of natural causes, and they may have to start using a mass grave again.”

Guntzel added that:

“There are snipers in positions overlooking the hospital grounds. At one point when I was filming between the two hospital buildings, I was shot at and a tree branch fell about 20 feet in front of me. I have no idea if they were trying to hit me or just warn me, but they were pretty active out there.”

Describing the scene in Ramallah, which is still under curfew, Guntzel said:

“There is a lot of destruction in Ramallah. There was nobody anywhere. The curfew is still in place. There were mangled cars all over the side of the streets. We went to the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees building. It had been shelled heavily. A lot of buildings have been shelled. It was eerie because there was no one anywhere in the streets except for ambulances, tanks and APC’s.”

“The hospital has a street dividing the two parts of the hospital and you could not walk from one part of the hospital without carrying a white flag because you did not know if they were going to shoot. We were at one point approaching an APC that had a machine-gunner on top of it who just shot right at us as we were approaching, to get us to stop. It did not seem like a warning shot.”