Hadil al-Hashlamoun skipped breakfast the last morning she was alive. She rushed out of her home, past a furnishing store and clothing shop with plastic mannequins in the front window. The sun was rising, her four siblings were still sleeping. The only other person awake in the second story apartment was her mother who was already busy with housework, too engaged in her daily routine to have a final conversation.
Within an hour 18-year old Hadil would be dead.
Hadil was shot to death at a Hebron checkpoint by Israeli soldiers under disputed circumstances on September 22. Amnesty has called the killing an “extrajudicial execution.”
That morning Hadil was fasting in preparation for a feast of a dinner her family would share for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. With a deepening religious faith, six months ago, Hadil began wearing a niqab, a loose black covering that concealed her face and body but left her hands exposed. When she reached the checkpoint that divides the city of Hebron between Palestinian and Israeli control, soldiers yelled at her in Hebrew—a language she did not understand. They told her not to pass through the crossing. She obeyed, yet was struck with at least six bullets.
Her small frame was left without medical attention for 45 minutes while soldiers and settlers alike photographed her body. She was then transferred to an Israeli hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Hadil’s family, a witness who has since fled to his native Brazil, and the human rights group Amnesty International all insist Hadil posed no threat to the firing soldiers. Yet the Israeli military has said Hadil was carrying a weapon and it has provided photographic evidence, a claim that is disputed by the sole eye-witness who was present for the full encounter from a distance of 8 meters. Brazilian national Marcel Leme documented the killing with time-stamped images and attested that no blade was present at the scene of the crime. In his photographs, Hadil’s empty hands can be seen peeking out of her covering; there is no knife.
“I would like to emphasize that the victim has never tried to attack any Israeli soldiers, she has never tried to raise a knife and she has never gotten close to any soldiers since she has crossed the Checkpoint 56 to when she was shot many times by the Israeli soldiers and fell down unconscious on the ground,” Leme wrote in a statement he called his “Testimony about the Palestinian woman’s murder in Hebron (Palestine) on the 22nd September 2015.” The record includes a reel of 23-time marked photographs.
“Before, during and after the incident I have not seen any knife with the woman or around her on the ground,” Leme added.
Hadil’s parents now assert that the Israeli military planted a weapon near her body more than 30 minutes after she was struck with live-fire, around the time Leme was shooed away.
“She usually went to that area—in Shuhada Street [where the checkpoint is located]. It was not the first time,” said Hadil’s father Salah al-Hashlamoun, 55, a doctor and head of a hospital in Hebron. With pride. Salah said for the past two years his daughter regularly passed through the militarized crossing in the morning before dashing off to school, and back via the same checkpoint.
When inside the area under Israeli patrol, Hadil would visit low-income Palestinian families, exercising a charitable ethic instilled by her parents. On the morning of her killing, Hadil had intended to give $50 (200 NIS) to the family she visited most frequently. It was a donation on the occasion of the upcoming Muslim holiday.
Moments before Hadil was shot another Palestinian, Fawaz Abu Aisheh who speaks Hebrew, attempted to translate the Hebrew commands into Arabic. Abu Aisheh initially did not claim Hadil was carrying a weapon when interviewed by The Guardian. Later he told Amnesty International she had a blade.
His description did not match the image of the knife distributed by the Israeli army. Moreover, Hadil’s family said the Israeli military must produce CCTV footage captured by cameras at the checkpoint that show the knife came from Hadil, “or shut up.”
“My daughter was a victim,” her father said.
“I was in the hospital working in the intensive care with a critically ill patient when one of the local media outlets—a local radio station—called me and asked me if one of my daughters is named Hadil,” Salah said, relaying how he came to learn of his daughter’s killing. Hours later an official in the Israeli government telephoned him and confirmed Hadil was shot and in an Israeli hospital. Days after Salah received another call from the Israeli surgeon who attempted to treat Hadil. The Israeli doctor gave his condolences and explained he tried to save her, but there was nothing he could do, Salah said.
As a medical professional, Salah has tried to re-construct Hadil’s condition from the time she was shot to the time she arrived at the Israeli hospital nearly one hour later. From additional photographs released by the Israeli military, Salah was able to note Hadil was not given intratracheal tubing. He states this was neglect on the part of Israeli responders. By the time she arrived at the medical facility, her lungs were full of fluid.
When a ventilator was finally installed, “one liter of blood gushed out at that moment,” Salah said. “If she had the chance to still be alive, her brain would be dead.”
Salah has no doubt that Hadil was not carrying a knife. “The Israelis always accuse–man or women, child or elderly–that they killed or injured that person because they tried to stab a soldier,” Salah said. “For me my daughter was killed in an unfair and unjustifiable manner.”
In his view his daughter was a bright young student two weeks into her first year of college. She was a poet, loved Marcel Khalifa, and had performed at events in her school and for the municipality of Hebron. Her life outside of the classroom was spent volunteering. She also assisted in an elementary school.
“As a poet, its impossible for her to harm anybody,” Hadil’s mother Rawhide al-Hashlamoun, 47, said. “We lost her, she was active and quiet, she was smart, she was planning her life for the future.”