Two Palestinians were killed and a third is in critical condition after being shot by the Israeli military outside of Ofer prison in the West Bank at an annual Nakba Day protest. The youths were struck with live-fire and nine others critically wounded, according to hospital staff. The Nakba (literally “catastrophe”) refers to the 1947-49 expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians who were forcibly evicted or fled from their villages, thus creating a refugee population that today has reached seven million.
Nadime Siam Abu Nuwara, 17, from Mazra’a Qabiya was shot by a single bullet to the heart at 12:30 pm. Mohammed Awad Salemeh Abu Thaher, 22, from Abu Khadem was killed just before 2:00 pm from a bullet to the lower abdomen. Mohammed Azza, 22, from Sharaeh was taken to an intensive care unit after being shot in the chest.
“The bullet went in and out,” said Ahmad Naser, 27, an emergency medical responder with Physicians for Palestine, pointing to his heart and back. Naser carried Abu Nuwara into an ambulance after the protesters removed him from the street while Israeli soldiers continued to fire, he said. He died in an ambulance en route to Ramallah.
During the demonstration the Israeli army also fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound grenades. The military also used a bulldozer to uproot seven old-growth olive trees to create a pathway for army Jeeps. Emergency medical staff said the youths threw stones at the Israeli forces.
At the hospital around 300 Palestinians poured into the plaza of Ramallah’s public hospital. Two more injured Palestinians were rushed from stretchers into the emergency room. By 7:00 pm nine others had been shot with live-fire said a doctor, although Naser said the clashes with the Israeli army were still ongoing at the time of the publication of this article. While I spoke to Naser, he leapt to treat a female relative of one of the youths killed as she lost consciousness in the hospital’s lobby.
In the rear of the medical complex, youths gathered outside the morgue to view the bodies of the deceased. Tearful teens were with their parents. The mother of Abu Thaher was brought over by two relatives that helped her walk in grief. Once inside she wailed until exasperated and then was carried out.
Following the viewing, Palestinians marched through central Ramallah, asking shop owners to give condolences by shuttering their stores.
A second main Nakba Day march took place earlier outside of Bethlehem in the rural village of al-Walaja. Two hundred marched from the town’s edge towards an Israeli military road. The Israeli army fired tear gas and sound grenades. The youths also threw stones at the army.
In 1948 all of al-Walaja’s residents were forcibly evicted from their original village, now inside of Israel. They resettled on their agricultural land two kilometers away, which is presently in the West Bank. Some became refugees in nearby camps around Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Since the 1948 Nakba, the village has suffered a series of additional expropriations for Israeli settlement growth and military outposts. The inhabitants now face a “secondary displacement,” characterized by post-Oslo planning that is under full Israeli control, said Lubnah Shomali with BADIL, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, a Nakba commemoration coordinator. “Al-Walaja, it represents past displacement as well as current displacement so it’s a symbol of the on-going Nakba, a Nakba that is continuous—continuous forcible population transfer,” she explained.