12 November 2006 in Al Yamoun, (population 22,000) about 7 km west by northwest of Jenin
Today we are taking direct testimony from victims and witnesses of two separate killing incidents by Israeli Occupation Forces which have recently occurred here in Al Yamoun during the past 16 days. The first one was on 27 October 2006 and the second one was on 7 November 2006.
We are in the home of the Hasan Abu Hasan family. On 27 October 2006, during the period of Eid Al Fitr, the celebratory period at the end of Ramadan, Mohammed, age 38, was up on the roof here at his home. He was with his brother, Ra-ef, age 19 hanging laundry to dry before sunrise at approximately 3:30 am. He and his brothers were preparing to go to the mosque for Al Fajr, which is the first Morning Prayer, and a very important occasion during the Eid.
Suddenly, he saw a red laser beam coming from the hill to the east from between ï¿½ to 1 km away; and it was on him. Ra-ef quickly shouted and Mohammed turned to the left. The bullet entered his left lung just lateral to his heart and aorta, and exited through his lateral chest wall. Had he not reacted, he probably would have been struck in his heart and or aorta and killed immediately. Ra-ef was then shot through the left wrist. The bullet entered his wrist distally between the ulna and radius, and exited through his palm. The brothers had been hit by an Israeli sniper, firing at them for no particularly good reason from the opposite hill using a sophisticated laser guidance rifle…and probably with night-vision and telescope.
Their friend Ziad, who has lost many friends this way, tells me later that this happens frequently. These commando-snipers behave like trophy hunters, and they are promoted by their superiors based on how many Arabs they kill.
The two brothers screamed for their brother Ahmed, who ran up the street about 100 meters from their home to try and summon an ambulance at the local health clinic. Ahmed was gunned down gangland execution style while running toward the clinic; his body was riddled with multiple bullets. No ambulance arrived, so the 2 surviving brothers were taken quickly by a private vehicle to Al Yamoun hospital. Ra-ef was treated with a short arm cast and sling.
He is currently suffering 16 days after the injury with numbness and weakness of his dorsal left thumb and volar fifth finger, consistent with injuries to his left radial and ulnar nerves. He will probably have some degree of permanent disability to his left non-dominant hand. It will take months before he will know how much hand function he will be able to regain.
Mohammed says that he suffered extreme pain and shortness of breath from the gunshot wound to his chest. He feared he was dying. At Al Yamoun hospital, he was treated with a chest tube to re-inflate his collapsed left lung (pneumo-hemothorax). He spent 4 days in the hospital until the chest tube could be pulled, and then he was released.
Their dead brother Ahmed had only been married for 40 days. His wife is now pregnant with their first child. Their family and friends continue to suffer extreme sorrow and grief.
We also travel to the Al Labadi neighborhood of Al Yamoun to talk directly with two eyewitnesses, who were near the bread bakery at about 1: 30 am on 7 November 2006. This is where 5 men were killed by a team of Israeli commandos five days ago. Here, people are still afraid and are unwilling to give me their names or be photographed.
Witness 1 was inside the bakery where he is employed. He noted a group of several young men (i.e. Shebbab in the local Palestinian dialect) were outside on the street talking with someone in a car. Suddenly, the bakery was riddled with gunfire and grenade explosions outside the bakery. Witness 1 dove for cover. “Bullets were hitting like rain,” he says.
Witness 2 says the Shebbab scattered, but 5 were hit. Most were killed immediately; but one man was shot in the leg and tried to escape up the road to the south. He sought refugee about 150 meters away inside a home. We can still follow the 5 day old trail of blood on the pavement which leads right up to the home. The commandos busted through the door. They shot and killed him right in front of a mother and her teenage daughter, right in the foyer of their home.
Three of the men were wanted by the IOF because of their resistance activities previously. But both witnesses state emphatically that none of the men were armed at the time of the attack.
The witnesses both say that they knew right away that it was Israeli commandos due to the characteristic sound of the automatic weapons that were fired. These men have all heard these sounds before in previous incidents.
The martyrdom (Shaheed) poster is now seen in windows and walls all over the neighborhood. It shows the dead men as armed fighters, but the locals tell me that this is simply done at the computer lab where their faces are posted on the bodies of armed resistance fighters to achieve the maximum martyrdom effect and instill patriotic feelings among the local citizens of Al Yamoun.
Dr. Bill Dienst is a rural family and emergency room physician from Omak, Washington, USA.