Isabel Kershner reports for the New York Times on a strike by UN relief workers in the West Bank that is stoking tensions inside Palestinian refugee camps.
Outside the [Jalazoun] camp’s main entrance, youths were throwing stones, goading Israeli soldiers among the olive trees between the camp and a nearby Jewish settlement. Some were masked and swinging slingshots. Near this same spot a few days into the strike, Wajih al-Ramahi, 15, from Jalazoun, was fatally shot in the back by an Israeli soldier.
Kershner of course makes no reference to a Human Rights Watch report on this case, released two weeks ago, January 5. This states the boy’s proximity to a school:
No evidence has been presented by the Israeli authorities that a 15-year-old boy fatally shot in the back by Israeli soldiers near his school on December 9, 2013, posed any threat to life that would justify such a killing. It was the second incident involving the lethal shooting of a child in the back by Israeli forces deployed near a school in 2013…
The evidence obtained by Human Rights Watch is inconclusive as to whether [Wajih] al-Ramahi, who was shot in an area between the school and a market, had joined Palestinian youths nearby who were throwing stones toward the soldiers, but the soldiers were approximately 200 meters away and not at any risk of being hit by stones, the witnesses said…
According to medical sources and photographs of the body seen by Human Rights Watch, al-Ramahi had a bullet wound in his back and no exit-wound. The lack of an exit-wound is consistent with statements that the bullet was fired from an assault rifle at considerable distance from al-Ramahi.
There was no apparent justification for the use of live ammunition, Human Rights Watch said. International standards on the use of firearms in policing situations stipulate that lethal force may be used only as a last resort when strictly necessary to protect life.
Jodi Rudoren reported the case more fairly in December:
In a separate episode, Colonel Lerner said that following reports in the Palestinian news media, Israel’s military advocate general had ordered an investigation into the death of a Palestinian teenager on Saturday in the West Bank.
According to Reuters, a Palestinian man said that his 15-year-old son was killed by Israeli soldiers near Ramallah in an unprovoked shooting on Saturday. The father, Wajdi al-Ramahy, said that soldiers guarding a nearby settlement shot his son Wajih just after he left a grocery store.
Colonel Lerner said that Israeli soldiers had been in the area trying to stop stone-throwing but that it was unclear whether their operations were connected to the teenager’s death.
In a statement about the shooting, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority blamed Israel for what he called a “cold-blooded assassination” and said that it was destructive to the peace process, Reuters reported.
More on Kershner’s report from Jalazoun camp. It begins with these sentences:
“The children roaming the alleys of this Palestinian refugee camp north of Ramallah have been out of school for seven weeks. Food distribution is at a standstill, as are the camp’s regular health services. This crowded, concrete warren of roughly 15,000 residents is seething with anger.”
Last week a friend from the subcontinent who had visited Israel and Palestine told me that she had never observed “other”-ing at such a profound level. This NYT report, by an Israeli, would seem to demonstrate the problem: Palestinian “children roaming the alleys” of a “warren” “seething with anger,” youths “goading Israeli soldiers” who are “among the olive trees between the camp and a nearby Jewish settlement.” The anger, violence, poverty, uncivilized, animal-like behavior is Palestinian, while the Israelis are just soldiers (implying legitimate government order) protecting a settlement. No reason to consider that the soldiers or the Jewish settlers could be racist or aggressive, with a monopoly of arms enforcing expansionist, discriminatory policies.
Thanks to an anonymous friend, who contributed to this post.