Israeli army statement on killing of Palestinian teenager in occupation is contradicted by evidence at scene

Israel/Palestine
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Ramallah, occupied West Bank — Five teenagers were on their way back from Ramallah city last Thursday evening, heading home to al-Jalazone refugee camp, when Israeli forces opened fire at the teens on the main road that separates the camp from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El.

One teen, Mohammed Mahmoud Ibrahim Hatab, 17, was shot dead by Israeli forces. Two others were critically injured, eighteen-year-olds Jassem Muhammed Nakhla, and Mohammed Hatab (a cousin sharing the same name of the young man who was killed), while a fourth youth suffered bullet wounds but is in stable condition, a medical source at the Ramallah government hospital told Mondoweiss. The driver, the oldest of the five at 19, suffered from light shrapnel wounds.

Beit El is an Israeli settlement that has gotten direct support from Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and from the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

Nidal Rumah, a resident of al-Jalazone refugee camp who was present when the five teens arrived, one dead, four injured to the camp after Israeli forces opened fire. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

An Israeli army spokesperson said: “Three suspects exited a vehicle adjacent to the community of Beit El, where suspects threw firebombs at the community. In response to the threat, Israeli forces in the area fired towards the suspects, and several hits were confirmed. The suspects then fled the scene.”

Evidence of the scene directly contradicts the army’s statement. The car the teens were driving was riddled with bullet holes and the seats and floor of the car saturated with blood, indicating that forces shot at the teens when they were seated in the car, not standing on the side of the road. When asked about the discrepancy, the spokesperson could not comment.

[Photos of the bloodstains in the car are at bottom of this post. Warning: They are very graphic.]

Locals pointed out that if the teens had indeed thrown a Molotov cocktail, they could not have done so from inside a car.

“To throw a Molotov you have to be delicate, it’s fire and gasoline, you have to lift your arm back like this,” one young Palestinian told Mondoweiss, stretching his arm straight back behind him. “There’s no way to do that from a car.”

Nidal Rumah, a resident of al-Jalazone, said that after Israeli forces shot at the teen’s vehicle, the driver was able to navigate into the refugee camp, where residents rushed outside to help.

“Thank god the driver was able to make it into the camp, everyone came out and we discovered that Mohammed was dead, but the other three were alive, just injured,” Rumah said. “The five were cousins and friends, they were coming from Ramallah. By luck the driver was able to make it into the camp after what happened. When he got to the camp he crashed into a wall and people knew something was wrong and rushed out.”

A friend of one of the teens, who asked to remain anonymous, told Mondoweiss he strongly believed that if the driver had been more seriously injured and unable to drive, all five teens would have been killed.

According to Israeli military protocol, Israeli forces are only allowed to shoot live rounds in the case of a threat to life.

Standing at the main street where the boys were shot, it’s objectively clear that it would be impossible for one to, from the road where the Israeli spokesperson said the teens were standing, throw a Molotov anywhere near the settlement or its residents. One would have to go into a field between the main road and the settlement to get into range.

It is unknown if Israeli authorities have video footage of the incident, which took place near an Israeli military tower.

Since the incident happened on Thursday evening, residents of al-Jalazone camp have been waiting outside the Ramallah government hospital, praying for good news on the two teens in critical condition.

A medical source at the hospital said that the two are in critical, but fairly stable condition. However, doctors fear deadly complications could arise.

Thousands of mourners making their way to the burial site, while thousands more gathered around the cemetery to observe from afar. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

On Friday morning the funeral for Mohammed Mahmoud began from the hospital. A procession of cars driven by loved ones escorted the ambulance carrying the teen’s remains the 4-and-1/2 miles back to al-Jalazone refugee camp.

Three crying teens held onto the back of the ambulance, balancing on the vehicle’s bumper and refusing to let go — these inconsolable teens clutched the back of the ambulance the entire way to camp.

At least 8,000 mourners attended the funeral in the camp. Flags of the Fatah movement, the political party supported by Mohammed Mahmoud’s family, were waved throughout the crowd, along with flags from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

During the procession, thousands of faces, many tear-stained, screamed political slogans, demanding justice. The speedy tick of semi-automatic weapons being shot into the air by Palestinian militants was present throughout the funeral march, as Palestinians clad in green army fatigues shot off M16s from the crowd and surrounding rooftops.

Thousands of mourners gathered for the funeral of Mohammed Mahmoud Ibrahim Hatab on Friday. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

When mourners reached the cemetery, family members had to hold back the mother of the slain teen, who hurled herself toward the grave of her son in grief.

The young cousin of the slain teen being consoled after being treated for faintness by medics. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

Several mourners had to be carried to ambulances stationed on the streets of the camp where they were treated for faintness or loss of consciousness.

Dr. Jamal al-Haysen, a member of the central committee of the Fatah movement, was one of several leaders to give a speech at the funeral.

“Today we are sending to heaven the martyr Mohammed Hatab, a member of the al-Shabibi Fatah youth party,” al-Haysen began his speech. “This is one of the daily violent actions that the Israeli occupation takes against the Palestinians people — killing our innocent youth — and in the name of the Palestinian people we call for the popular resistance.”

“Israel accuses us of terrorism, but the biggest perpetrator of terrorism is Israel, who keeps killing our people in this genocide,” he continued, and called for support from other Arab nations. “… We have been living through this violence for more than 50 years since the Nakba (1948). We are fighting an enemy who doesn’t respect International Law or International Human Rights.”

The poster announced the “martyrdom” of Mohammed Mahmoud Ibrahim Hatab, hung throughout al-Jalazone refugee camp. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

Al-Haysen ended his speech wishing a speedy recovery to the three teens still being treated in the hospital.

The 17-year-old was the 15th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in the first eleven weeks of 2017, and the third minor, according to local Ma’an News documentation.

Photographs follow of gunshots to car and bloodstains inside. Warning, very graphic.

Photo of gunshots to car

Photo of bloodstains in car

Photo of bloodstains in car

About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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6 Responses

  1. eljay
    March 26, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Another day, another non-Israeli in not-Israel is murdered by Israeli Occupation and Terrorism Forces goons operating in and enabling the on-going colonization of not-Israel.

  2. broadside
    March 26, 2017, 6:40 pm

    Thanks Sheren, thanks MW.

  3. talknic
    March 26, 2017, 10:24 pm

    The IDF, most immoral army in the world lies again and again.

    Imagine the outcry and retaliation if Palestinian police did this to illegal settlers who have actually been shown to terrorize innocent Palestinians

  4. Kay24
    March 26, 2017, 10:41 pm

    This is not the first time Israeli forces haves killed ruthlessly, and rigged the crime scene to make it look like the victims were the perpetrators. When it comes to the Palestinians, victims of their oppression, they easily stoop to being deceitful, and will try to get away with murder.
    Imagine the outrage, especially in the US media, if this had been the other way around. The terrorists wear uniforms.

  5. Talkback
    March 27, 2017, 7:47 am

    “The car the teens were driving was riddled with bullet holes and the seats and floor of the car saturated with blood, indicating that forces shot at the teens when they were seated in the car, not standing on the side of the road.”

    80 years of Zionist terrorism.

  6. shaun patrick
    March 28, 2017, 4:33 am

    This story is very sad but has been repeated over and over again for 70 years Netanyahu, Bennet and hundreds of Israeli leaders,politicians and IDF before them have collectively stolen more than Palestinian lives, land and dignity they have stolen the soul and moral conscience of Israelis and made a mockery of the Jewish religion in the same way that Isis has made a mockery of Islam and that is terrorism in all its ugliness.

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