Gaza, ALRAY -- B’Tselem’s investigation into four killings since the beginning of March 2019 clearly shows the lethal fire was completely unjustified:
1. The killing of Muhammad Shahin, 23, who was watching clashes between stone-throwers and security forces in the town of Salfit
On Tuesday afternoon, 12 March 2019, at about 3:00 P.M., Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers entered the town of Salfit, which lies southwest of Nablus. About 40 Palestinian youths were throwing stones at some 10 members of the security, forces who were hiding behind trash cans about 100 meters away. The security forces threw stun grenades and fired teargas canisters, rubber-coated metal bullets and live rounds at the stone-throwers. Three young men were injured by “rubber” bullets and another was wounded in the hand by a live bullet. Muhammad Shahin was watching the clashes. An eyewitness said a friend had asked him to join the stone throwing, but Shahin refused, saying: “No. I always get hit even though I don’t do anything”. He was standing about 100 meters away from the security forces, and about 20 meters away from the stone-throwers, who were between him and the forces. At around 4:30 PM, the security forces fired a single live bullet, killing Shahin.
2. The killing of Ahmad Manasrah, 22, who was helping a family whose car got stuck near a checkpoint
On Wednesday evening, 20 March 2019, at around 9:00 P.M., the four members of the Ghayadah family - Maysaa, ‘Alaa, and their two daughters, aged 5 and 8 - were making their way home from the village of Irtas to Nahhalin, west of Bethlehem. When they arrived at the Nashash/Efrat North checkpoint, ‘Alaa Ghayadah stopped the car because of a mechanical issue. The checkpoint was open and unstaffed, but there were soldiers in an observation tower about 50 meters away. As soon as Ghayadah got out of the car, the soldiers at the observation tower shot him and wounded him in the abdomen. Maysaa Ghayadah got out of the car and cried for help. A passing car stopped and its passengers came to her aid. Three of them took ‘Alaa Ghayadah to the hospital. The fourth, Ahmad Manasrah, 22, from Wadi Fukin, tried to help her start the car, but the soldiers at the tower shot him as well, killing him. The military released several different accounts of the circumstances surrounding the incident, the last of which referred to an altercation between Palestinians that included stone throwing.
3. The killing of volunteer paramedic Sajed Muzhar, 17, who was trying to help a wounded man
On Wednesday morning, 27 March 2019, at around 6:00 A.M., 40 to 50 soldiers and Border Police officers raided a-Duheisheh Refugee Camp, south of Bethlehem. Clashes erupted between the forces and local residents, who threw stones. After three locals were arrested, security forces began climbing up an alley, at the top of which military vehicles were waiting. About 10 youths chased them, continuing to throw stones. At that point, a member of the security forces shot one of the residents, M.J., 20, injuring him in the leg. Sajed Muzhar, a 17-year-old volunteer paramedic, was a few dozen meters behind him. As soon as M.J. was hurt, Muzhar ran over to him to provide medical care, wearing a medical crew vest. He was shot in the abdomen by a member of the security forces and taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.
4. The killing of Muhammad Dar 'Udwan, 24, from Kafr ‘Aqab, shot from behind while fleeing
In the early hours of Wednesday, 2 April 2019, at around 3:30 A.M., more than 10 Israeli security forces vehicles entered the neighborhood of Kafr ‘Aqab in northern East Jerusalem. As the vehicles were making their way, several youths threw stones at them. The security forces drove into one of the alleys, and the youths, by then ten of them, continued throwing stones at them, as well as two improvised explosive devices. Another group of soldiers flanked the youths and fired at them, wounding two. The youths fled the area. One of them, Muhammad Dar ‘Udwan, 24, ran in the opposite direction. He ran past a group of soldiers, who fired at him. He continued to run under a barrage of bullets fired by the soldiers. Video footage shot by a local resident and footage captured by security cameras in a nearby building show Dar ‘Udwan being shot from behind while fleeing the soldiers.
These four cases illustrate, once more, just how little value Israel’s security establishment places on the lives of Palestinians. None of the victims posed a threat to the lives of security personnel. Not one of these incidents should have ended in death. As B'Tselem has cautioned countless times in the past, these are not aberrations, or “bad apples”. These are incidents that occur as part of the routine actions of soldiers and police officers, pursuant to Israel’s dangerous, lethal open-fire policy.
This is also the reason why any statements made by the IDF Spokesperson, or any other official, promising that a military police investigation into the incident has been or will be launched, should be taken with a grain of salt. Past experience has shown that these investigations are simply part of the whitewashing mechanism employed by the Military Advocate General Corps, which, no matter the outcome, have no impact on the open-fire policy and do nothing to deter security forces from using lethal fire against Palestinians without justification.