November 30, 2013
Ben H. also contributed to the reporting of this article.
Clashes erupted in Qalandia Thursday night and Friday morning after Mahmoud Wajeeh Awwad passed away in an Israeli hospital due to the bullet wounds he sustained at clashes eight months ago. According to the most recent statistics compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 27 Palestinians were killed from January to October of this year, 15 of whom died since the start of the peace talks in late July. At least 8 more Palestinians have died throughout the month of November.
Mahmoud Wajeeh Awwad had been in a coma over the past eight months, after having been shot by Israeli soldiers with a rubber-coated steel bullet during clashes at the entrance of Qalandia refugee camp, Ma’an News Agency reported. He was being treated in the Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, where he was pronounced dead by medics late Thursday evening, according to the Palestine News Network. He was in his twenties.
In response to his death, clashes erupted in Qalandia on Thursday night. "When I was passing through Qalandia checkpoint to get from Jerusalem to Ramallah around 11 pm on Thursday, I noticed that ten or twelve armed soldiers in protective gear and four armored vehicles had taken up positions at the entrance of the checkpoint on the outskirts of Qalandia refugee camp," an NGO worker in Ramallah told the Palestine Monitor. "About one hundred protesters were gathered on the road a few hundred meters away. They had set fire to a dumpster and were just waiting. A few minutes later I saw an ambulance driving from Qalandia towards Ramallah with a convoy of cars following closely behind."
The so-called Israeli "riot dispersal" techniques of firing rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at Palestinian protesters have killed several protesters in the past. In September this year, Israel’s Military Advocate General closed the investigation into Bassem Abu Rahmeh’s death for instance, supposedly because of a lack of evidence according to +972 Magazine. Abu Rahmeh was killed in April 2009, when Israeli soldiers fired a tear gas canister directly at his chest during a protest in Bil’in. Human rights organizations B’Tselem and Yesh Din pointed out that video segments show that he was not acting violently or putting the soldiers in danger in any way at the time of his death.
Bassem Abu Rahmeh’s sister, Jawaher, was killed in December 2011 during a similar protest in Bil’in after suffocating to death from tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers.
Prevented from reaching the hospital
Earlier on Thursday, 14-year old Nour Mohammad Afaneh died while she on the way to the hospital in an ambulance. Her father told Ma’an News Agency that she was in a critical condition due to complications stemming from severe pneumonia.
The ambulance that was taking the girl to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital was stopped at the Container Road checkpoint north of Bethlehem due to the closure of the checkpoint. The ambulance tried to reach the hospital through three alternative routes in heavy traffic before attempting to take Afaneh to the Ramallah Governmental Hospital instead. She passed away before arriving.
Israeli forces have kept the checkpoint closed for the past three days, Popular Committee Spokesman Hani Halbiya told Ma’an News Agency. This worsens the already extremely heavy traffic situation in the area between Bethlehem and Ramallah.
Extrajudicial killings in Hebron
On Tuesday, 26 November, three Palestinian men were killed in Yatta, a city south of Hebron in the Hebron governorate. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released a report on Thursday calling these killings "extra-judicial executions" and "grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention."
According to the PCHR report, the killings occurred in two separate incidents in and around Yatta. At around 6:00 PM, Israeli soldiers opened fire without warning on a white Subaru containing two men, Mousa Mohammed Makhamra and Mohammed Fo'ad Nairoukh, near an entrance to Route 60 east of Yatta. Both men were killed.
At 6:30 PM, soldiers fired on a house north of Yatta and used explosives to demolish the door of the home. Mahmoud Khaled al-Najjar was killed when the soldiers shot in his direction as he passed by. The PCHR report states that "Israeli forces... opened fire randomly at al-Najjar while he was walking near the house."
The Israeli army claimed that the killings were part of an operation "aimed at a group that was planning attacks in Israel," according to WAFA News Agency. An IDF spokesman said the men were members of a Salafist jihadi group that was planning attacks on both Israelis and the Palestinian Authority.
In any case, the killing of Makhamra, Nairoukh, and al-Najjar amounted to "the death penalty without trial," writes Nasser Lahham, Chief Editor of Ma’an News Agency, in an editorial on the agency’s website.
"The army makes itself the prosecutor, judge, and executioner," said Dr. Mustafa Barghouti in an interview with the Palestine Monitor. "These extrajudicial killings are very dangerous and are creating a lot of anger with the people," he said.
Killing while talking about peace
During the current round of US-mediated peace negotiations, which began on July 29 of this year, the Israeli government has repeatedly accused the Palestinian Authority of sabotaging and undermining the talks. Yet, not only has Israel killed at least 23 Palestinians since then, it has also announced the expansion of its illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on several occasions.
"Israel is using the peace negotiations as a cover for its settlement expansion and its general oppression of the Palestinian people," Barghouti told the Palestine Monitor. On Monday, Israel announced the construction of 800 new settlement houses in the West Bank, two weeks after halting another plan to build 20,000 new homes.