Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in Dheisha refugee camp to lay to rest 18-year-old Baraa Hamamda on Friday. The teen was shot dead by Israeli forces when clashes broke out due to Israeli forces invading the camp during a pre-dawn raid.
In addition to Hamamda’s death, three other Palestinians were killed in Jerusalem after opening fire on Israeli forces in Jerusalem’s Old City hours after Hamamda was killed. During the shootout two Israeli officers were killed by the Palestinian assailants. The bodies of the three Palestinians killed in Jerusalem are currently being held by Israeli forces, meaning the families cannot follow their religious rites that require the Muslim burial of a loved one before the first sundown after a death.
The 18-year-old killed in Dheisha was laid to rest after noon prayers in the camp. At the funeral mourners gave speeches of unity and solidarity with all four Palestinians killed that morning.
Locals told Mondoweiss that Hamamda, a high school student expected to graduate this fall, was often found at the front line of clashes with Israeli forces, where Palestinian youth throw rocks at fully armed soldiers, generally during invasions into their communities.
The young man was loved by many, obvious from his Facebook page that has filled with message of mourning and pride for the teen.
Hamamda’s funeral procession started at the main mosque in Dheisha refugee camp, and continued through the camp — the largest of the three refugee camps in Bethlehem. The procession took about two hours, mostly uphill in 95 degree heat before reaching the “Martyrs Cemetery” where the teen was laid to rest.
Marchers chanted slogans of national unity and resistance, as well as warnings to “Captain Nidal” the pseudonym used by the Israeli military captain charged with security and intelligence in the three refugee camps in Bethlehem.
In February of last year, youth managed to take a photo of a man they believed was “Captain Nidal,” posting the photo to Facebook and creating a large banner in the camp with the photo along with text that warned the rocks thrown by youth in the camp would harm “Nidal and the soldiers.”
The banner was taken down that night during an Israeli raid, and youth in the camp told local media at the time that the captain had allegedly announced he would stop any shooting-to-kill-policies, and would instead make sure “all of you will end up on crutches and in wheelchairs” and that he would “make you all disabled.”
Between July and August of last year, 18 youth were shot in the legs by Israeli forces in Dheisha; eight of those injuries were shootings to the knee.
Chanters at the funeral warned “Captain Nidal” that his alleged campaign against youth in the camp would not deter them from clashing with Israeli forces raiding the camp.
The 18-year-old who was killed on Friday was most-closely affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a leftist political party deemed a terrorist group by the United States and Israel.
Red PFLP flags, along with yellow Fatah party flags were waved during the funeral march.
While the two parties are seen as rivals in the camp, disputes were put aside for the funeral.
Nidal Khalawi, a leader of Fatah in the camp, was one of the lead pallbearers during the procession.
Women, men and children of all ages from across the Bethlehem district were present during the funeral march.
As the body of Hamamda was carried past his family home, two of the teen’s relatives threw candy and white rose petals down on mourners.
Fireworks and gunshots into the air also punctuated the procession.
Friday’s deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis in 2017 to 43 — an average of between one and two Palestinians killed per week this year.
According to Ma’an News Agency’s documentation, 18 of the 43 were younger than 20 years old at the time of their deaths, and 14 were killed during army raids or clashes.
During the same period ten Israelis were killed by Palestinians, including the two officers who were shot dead on Friday.