Thousands gathered in the West Bank town of Silwad outside of Ramallah to bury Orwah Hammad, a 14-year old Palestinian-American from Louisiana who was killed by the Israeli army on Friday evening.
Hammad’s memorial was held at a local school to accommodate the out pouring of mourners, rather than at Silwad’s central mosque as customary. The front entrances of the town were still littered with burnt trash bins and rocks from the clash on Friday when the youth was killed. Hammad was enshrouded with flower wreaths as children from the village wept and prayed over his headstone. Hammad died in Ramallah public hospital after sustaining a gunshot wound to the neck and head during a demonstration against the killing of another Palestinian earlier in the week.
The funeral was delayed a day as so Hammad’s father who resides in New Orleans could travel to the West Bank. Hammad lived in New Orleans as well until the age of six when he relocated to the West Bank. The youth’s mother and extended family live in Silwad.
The State Department released a statement on Friday expressing its “deepest condolences” to the family of the deceased minor and called “for a speedy and transparent investigation, and will remain closely engaged with the local authorities, who have the lead on this investigation.”
The circumstances surrounding Hammad’s killing remain gray. The Israeli army asserts that the youth was throwing a Molotov cocktail at the time he was struck. The Israeli army told Reuters Hammad was shot because soldiers were attempting “to prevent an attack when they encountered a Palestinian man hurling a Molotov cocktail at them on the main road. They opened fire and confirmed a hit.” However, witnesses have told me that Hammad was throwing stones and not lobbing a petrol bomb.