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Three dead in Qalandiya offer reminders of Lina Al Nabulsi’s tragic death

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Scheduled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians – some of the first following a three-year stalemate – are now under threat of being halted following the death of three Palestinian protesters at the Qalandiya Refugee Camp near Ramallah. IDF soldiers shot three young men dead (Rubeen Abed Fares, 30; Yunis Jahjouh, 22; and Jihad Aslan, 20) when an Israeli undercover “arrest operation” to detain Yousef Al Khatib (who had recently been released from Israeli prison) spiraled out of control.

Mourners carry Jihad's body. (Photo: Darren Whiteside/ Reuters)

Mourners carry Jihad’s body. (Photo: Darren Whiteside/ Reuters)

Not surprisingly, the Palestinian and Israeli accounts of this event differed. The IDF stated that during the arrest operation, a large riot broke out. Palestinians began hurling stones at Israeli armed vehicles, requiring soldiers to respond with live ammunition to protect themselves. Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesperson, stated, “A large violent crowd such as this that significantly outnumber security forces leave no other choice but to resort to live fire in self-defense.”

Palestinian officials and residents of the refugee camp denied the IDF’s version of events, and stated that the rock throwing only began after Israelis raided the refugee camp and forced their way into Palestinian homes. Citing Palestinian witnesses, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz wrote that IDF soldiers’ lives were never in danger, since Palestinians aimed their rocks at armed vehicles and did not use gunfire. PA officials condemned the attack as another instance of the IDF acting in a reckless manner and unnecessarily using lethal force.

It is no surprise that accounts of the events differ. Regardless of which version is valid, the events are another definite indication of the need for IDF soldiers to show restraint and remain accountable for their actions. This is especially important because it is this lack of restraint that has been a driver for hundreds of acts of retaliation in the past.

The events in Qalandiya brought to mind an infamous story in the West Bank; the story of Lina Al Nabulsi. On May 15, 1976, 17-year-old Lina was shot and killed by an IDF soldier while walking home from school in Nablus. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Israeli authorities stated that a stray bullet hit Lina when a soldier’s rifle went off accidentally. An investigation into the incident was ordered, with IDF forces reiterating their commitment to only use live ammunition when their own lives were in danger.

Palestinian witnesses to the event vehemently denied this version of events. They stated first and foremost that it was very clear that Lina was a schoolgirl. She was wearing her school uniform. As Lina and her friends were walking home, they ran into a demonstration protesting against Israeli occupation and settlement building, an almost weekly event in Nablus at the time. It was common for high school students to join in with chanting and wave flags. This protest, however, turned violent. Palestinian men and Israeli soldiers became entangled, but it was Lina and her friends, innocently waving a flag and repeating the chant for justice everyone else was yelling, that would grab the IDF’s attention.

Two officers chased Lina and her friends into a building, where each of them sought a hiding spot. Lina hid under a dining room table in the apartment they had entered. According to Emadeddin Fraitekh, one of the other children hiding in the apartment a mere blocks from their school, the officers recognized Lina. They found her hiding under the table, pointed a gun at her, and opened fire, killing her in cold blood. “She was executed right then and there, in front of everyone present, so we could see, take note, and learn the lesson.”

17-year-old Lina’s death sparked fury in Nablus and across the West Bank. Schools and public offices were closed for days to protest the IDF’s actions. Lina’s death also sparked an operation by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) under her name was carried out to avenge her killing. One of the men killed during this operation, Muhammad Abu Zant, only recently had his remains returned to his family in Nablus.

A Painting of Lina Al Nabulsi, by Suleiman Mansour

A Painting of Lina Al Nabulsi, by Suleiman Mansour

Lina’s death in 1976, and Rubeen, Yunis, and Jihad’s in 2013, although more than 35 years apart, are equally tragic.

Demands for the respect for human rights and dignity are the same. Calls to halt illegal settlement building continue, and the need for the international community to voice the need for the IDF to be held accountable for their unnecessary use of lethal force remains. A lack of progress in any of these areas will cement the place of the “lasting peace option” as a distant dream.


@WomanUnveiled is a Middle Eastern gal that grew up in Jordan and has been able to explore the world from there. She has camped in Petra, touched the sky at Burj Khalifa, driven through the streets of Riyadh (shhh), and partied the night away at Sky Bar in Beirut. Her home, for now, is New York. The journey continues at

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12 Responses

  1. on September 3, 2013, 4:49 pm

    What is also remarkable is that one should go back 30 years to find analogies. Interesting if anyone on his blog made an honest comparison with how often such incident occurred with US soldiers PER HOUR in Iraq? Or French in the recent operations in Africa? Or Russians in Chechnia?

    • annie on September 3, 2013, 4:59 pm

      there’s no reason to assume anyone had to go back 30 years. as this coverage shows there was a similar killing the tuesday before in the killings in Qalandiya

      This action echoes the pre-dawn raid by Israeli forces at Jenin Refugee Camp last Tuesday, when Israeli forces killed Anis Lahlouh, 22, with a bullet to the heart, under similar circumstances– according to Al Jazeera “apparently seeking to arrest a local resident.”

      many more killings right here

      • mcohen on September 5, 2013, 5:18 am

        West bank is the new hot spot,reception is good,obviously your focus on Qalandiya is part of a greater campaign.the 3 shot sends a message …….talk peace or leave

    • ritzl on September 3, 2013, 5:38 pm

      What is remarkable is that you can go back 30 years to find something similar. THIRTY++ years, same behavior.

      The only change is that Israel’s deadly subjugation behavior seems to have gotten worse (or better reported or both), with no easing of the trend nor end in sight.

    • just on September 3, 2013, 8:01 pm

      fnlevit– you choose to remain steadfast in your denial of the past and present malfeasance of the Israeli government and their flouting of the international laws of Occupation and Humanitarian Law. One does not have to go back 30 years to find “analogies” to the murder of a Palestinian innocent, one needs to go back just one day (or less)– you can even leap forward to tomorrow if things remain as they are.

      Israelis remember, and “never forget”. Why can’t another people remember, when it is so raw and unforgivable and illegal?

    • talknic on September 3, 2013, 8:55 pm

      @ fnlevit “Interesting if anyone on his blog made an honest comparison with how often such incident occurred with US soldiers PER HOUR in Iraq? Or French in the recent operations in Africa? Or Russians in Chechnia?”

      Uh huh…. How would that change what is happening in Palestine today. ( I.e., not in Israel )

      Would Israel suddenly start adhering to International Law and withdraw from all non-Israeli territories? Suddenly pay compensation for 65 years of illegal facts on the ground? Suddenly stop making demands that have no legal basis, like the demand for recognition as the Jewish state ?

      BTW Israel likes the US and Russian business

  2. on September 3, 2013, 11:21 pm

    The KGB followers on this blog (the so called moderatots) use the following dirty trick with my comments. They would post a curtailed version of one comment, let everyone attack it BUT do not let me post my replies. In this way it looks as if I has nothing to say and am helpless against the arguments of the attackers. Another act of dishonesty practiced on this blog.

    • annie on September 4, 2013, 7:20 am

      They would post a curtailed version of one comment, let everyone attack it BUT do not let me post my replies.

      maybe someone did you a favor the first time by removing a term we rarely publish here and clearing the rest of your comment. it starts w/p and rhymes with a town near LA. now put on your thinking cap (you’re a professor right?) and try to figure out why your responses are getting trashed over and over again.

      In this way it looks as if I has nothing to say

      rest assured i’ll be the first one to confirm, you have lots to say.

      and am helpless against the arguments of the attackers.


  3. just on September 4, 2013, 8:08 am

    This is punishment???

    “Lt.-Col Shalom Eisner, the IDF officer who was suspended from duty after he was filmed striking a foreign peace activist from Denmark with his M-16 rifle during a Jordan Valley protest in April 2012, has reached a plea agreement with military prosecutors, Ynet learned on Tuesday.

    Under the agreement, Eisner will receive two months of community service without pay. He will not be discharged from the IDF, but he will not be promoted to a new position and will retire from the army early.

    In the next few days an indictment will be filed with a military court charging Eisner of conduct unbecoming and overstepping his authority to the point of endangering lives.

    Eisner’s appointment as head of the Bahad 1 officer’s school was cancelled due to the incident. Since then he was appointed to a senior position at the Zeelim army base.”,7340,L-4426042,00.html

    • MahaneYehude1 on September 4, 2013, 9:33 am

      @Just: show me, please, one example of any other ME country (Including PA) judges its soldiers for any event.

  4. just on September 4, 2013, 9:23 am

    More theft by Israel:

    “The Palestinian Authority is losing about $300m (£193m) a year in “leakage” of customs, purchase and value-added taxes which are not transferred to the Palestinian treasury by Israel, according to preliminary UN estimates (pdf).

    The UN conference on trade and development (Unctad) defines fiscal leakage as Palestinian fiscal revenue destined for the PA but retained by Israel instead. Palestinian trade taxes consist of purchase tax and VAT, levied on all imports, whether they originate from Israel or elsewhere, as well as additional excise tax and custom duties on imports from sources other than Israel.

    Mahmoud el-Khafif, co-author of the preliminary report, said initial figures were higher but were revised when challenged by the Bank of Israel. “These are very conservative estimates,” he said emphasising that this fiscal loss is from two sources only. “We focused on leakages from indirect imports – goods produced in a third country, imported to Israel and sold on to Palestine. The second leakage is from smuggling.”

    The report says the losses do not include the revenue leakages from many other sources, including taxes levied by Israel on incomes of Palestinians working in Israel and settlements; revenue loss from under-pricing imported goods in invoices due to lack of Palestinian control over borders and access to proper trade data; revenue loss related to lack of control over land and natural resources; financial resources loss related to goods and services imported through the Palestinian public sector (petroleum, energy, and water); and fiscal loss as a result of the smaller tax base caused by the destruction of the productive base and loss of natural resources to occupation.


    The estimated costs to the PA of the $300m leaked annually to Israel is equivalent to 17% of total tax revenue, in addition to 4% in lost GDP and about 10,000 jobs a year. If the leakage could be curtailed, and the money transferred from the Israeli treasury to the Palestinian treasury, the resulting increase in revenue would help to expand economic growth and employment, says Unctad. The gross domestic product of the occupied Palestinian territory would therefore increase by 4% and employment would increase by 10,000 jobs per year, the report contends.

    Unctad says foreign aid has masked the impact of the measures imposed by Israel. However, with the decline of such support and the subsequent global economic crisis, the severe impact of the occupation on Palestinians is becoming clearer. The economic impact was most pronounced in Gaza, where growth fell from 21% in 2011 to 6.6% in 2012. The decline is concentrated in Gaza’s agricultural and fishing sector, which has been directly affected by Israeli military action in Gaza in last November.”

  5. yrn on September 4, 2013, 12:24 pm

    “Scheduled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians – some of the first following a three-year stalemate – are now under threat of being halted following the death of three Palestinian protesters at the Qalandiya Refugee Camp near Ramallah.”

    Renewed negotiations; Mahmoud Abbas: “Perhaps Agreement”
    The sixth round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians will be held today in Jerusalem. According to Palestinian officials and Erekat met secretly on Saturday.

    The talks are moving and will move on……………. keep on with your routine propaganda

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