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The bitter anniversary of Yusuf Shawamreh’s death

on 12 Comments

I really thought there might be some sliver of punishment for this murder.  On March 19 of last year Yusuf Shawamreh went to pick Akub, an edible wild-growing plant, on part of his family’s land.  He was shot to death by Israeli soldiers.    That’s essence of the story.   It was a contemptible killing.  The youth was just 14 years old.

There was no doubt about what happened.  It took place in daytime.  Shawamreh wasn’t carrying a gun or even throwing a rock.  Soldiers sat in ambush and shot him from several dozen meters away.

Despite some considerable publicity about this war crime, the Israeli state ruled the soldiers had followed orders and there would be no punishment.  I underestimated how fascist Israel had become.  It would become clearer in the summer with lynch mobs running freely in Jerusalem streets and then the  rampage in Gaza. No one was going to punish a soldier for shooting a Palestinian.

The “crime” for which Shawamreh was executed was walking through a hole in a fence.   The Separation Barrier (Apartheid Wall) goes through the family property in Deir al-‘Asal al-Foqa, a little town near the former Green Line in the southern part of the West Bank.  The Separation Barrier there is actually three parts, a wire fence, a “security road” for Israeli jeeps and such, and a barbed wire fence.

The wire fence had a hole in it.  The Israeli human rights group B’tselem says the hole was there for two years.  The army certainly knew about it.  The point of the security road is to make it easy to inspect the fence.  In fact  just two days earlier they arrested some youths for going through the fence.  They really didn’t give a damn about the hole.

On March 19 for some reason something changed.   Maybe someone needed to show off the capability of the unit to a higher up or maybe someone was bored.   Someone ordered an ambush.

Shawamreh and two friends went through the wire fence and crossed road.  Then Yusuf was shot.  There were no yelled warnings, no shots in the dirt, just three or four shots into Yusuf.

The incident was so outrageous that a week later the Israeli paper Ha’aretz published an editorial with the headline “Nothing Short of a War Crime”.  It called the killing “despicable”.  It wrote, “The IDF cannot make do with its spokesman’s attempt to whitewash the incident.”  Their journalists Amira Hass and Gideon Levy each wrote powerful articles about the incident.

Yet a whitewash was exactly what happened.  The army unit’s spokesperson had said the unit found “three suspicious Palestinians vandalizing the Separation Barrier” and did an arrest procedure, giving a warning, etc.  That tale was good enough for the IDF investigators.  In July of last year they told B’tselem that the soldiers hadn’t “breached any open-fire regulations” and that they were closing the case.  Thus we see it is perfectly within Israeli army “regulations” to shoot down a child whom you’re observing through binoculars and whom you know is no threat to anyone or anything.

Since then … nothing.    No one in the Israeli government gave a damn.  None of the supposedly leftist  Zionist parties said a word.  Liberal American newspaper columnists didn’t mention it. Then the summer came and Yusuf’s death was lost among the hundreds and hundreds of children dispatched in Gaza.

Let the facts be recorded and remembered.  As some of the murderers of civil rights workers in U.S. South found themselves on trial decades later let us be sure this will also happen to the solider killers and their commanders once the Israeli Apartheid regime is known only in the pages of infamy.  As March 16 is remembered for the murder of Rachel Corrie, let the 19th be set aside to mark the war crime that ended the life of Yusuf Shawamreh’s.

More about the case here.

Stanley Heller

Stanley Heller is Executive Director of the Middle East Crisis Committee (CT) and host of its TV program "The Struggle". He publishes the Struggle Video News, at

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12 Responses

  1. just on March 19, 2015, 3:42 pm

    “On March 19 for some reason something changed. Maybe someone needed to show off the capability of the unit to a higher up or maybe someone was bored. Someone ordered an ambush.

    Shawamreh and two friends went through the wire fence and crossed road. Then Yusuf was shot. There were no yelled warnings, no shots in the dirt, just three or four shots into Yusuf.”

    And one year on, nothing has changed. Impunity for the IOF’s and illegal “settlers'” targeted murders of Palestinians, including children, continues.

    War crimes continue. The world turns away, if they even bother to read about them in ‘alternative’ media. Mega and mini supporters of Israel point elsewhere, and complain that we are too focused on Israel! Their illegal and heinous behavior is funded and tolerated by the west. I can only hope that recent events bring that to a screeching halt.

    Thank you, Stanley Heller, for remembering Yusuf Shawamreh. May his important and child soul rest in peace.

    Many thanks for your work with the Middle East Crisis Committee.

  2. Bornajoo on March 19, 2015, 6:17 pm

    This was yet another in the long and never ending list of heinous crimes committed by this disgusting rogue state. Yusuf, like so many other Palestinian children, was murdered in cold blood and probably for fun and target practice. The IDF remind me of this type of behaviour:

    Schindler’s List Balcony Scene:

    What’s the difference?

    Thank you Stanley Heller

  3. annie on March 19, 2015, 6:33 pm

    i was so incensed by this murder i wrote an article about it called “It looks to me like sport hunting: the killing of 14 year old Yusef a-Shawamreh”

    however. it never made it to publication here. they let him bleed to death. they watched him time and again go forage in the same place on his families land and one day they hunted him down like an animal. a child. and then let him bleed to death. i placed it on a listserve and luckily stanley read it and published it on his blog.

    here it is:

    thank you stanley. and thank you for keeping the memory of yusef alive. and we should all remember how he was hunted like an animal.

    • Bornajoo on March 19, 2015, 6:51 pm

      Thanks for posting your article about this Annie. I remember reading the gideon levy article about it.

      It also reminds me of a kind of sadistic sport hunting. That’s why I posted that scene from Schindler’s List because the criminals who murdered him and so many others have become just as sadistic and evil. It’s horrible

      • just on March 19, 2015, 7:31 pm

        No difference, Bornajoo. Really, none.


    • RockyMissouri on March 20, 2015, 11:03 am

      We are all related. Thank you for caring.

  4. just on March 19, 2015, 6:55 pm

    Your article, tone, and assessment are all absolutely accurate, Annie. Thanks so much for linking to it. I noticed these comments, all from the same source. He deserves public shaming, imho. So I will quote him and his unapologetic screed that seeks to blame the victim, a child.

    From Amira’s article that is linked in your piece:

    “An Open Letter to Soldier X Who Did His Best To Protect Our Families
    By Chaim Ben Kahan 25 Mar 201402:45AM
    I am sorry that you had to be put in this position. You were trained and assigned to protect the security fence and you did your job. You had no idea that the infiltrator was 14 and I am sure the youth’s death will trouble you for years to come. There was no way to know that this particular teen was not a suicide bomber, especially with the dark history of the PLO using teenagers to commit acts of terror. I am sorry you have to live with this pain. Do not listen to those who criticize you. You did your best to protect innocent people and if this kid had better parenting, this would have never happened.”

    From Gideon’s article that is linked in your piece:

    “Why Is the Breech Not Repaired and Reinforced?
    By Chaim Ben Kahan 04 Apr 201407:36PM
    The breech in the fence is what killed this teen. The poacher was caught trespassing just a few days before and returned. The plant he was picking his endangered and illegal to pick. However, if the IDF knew of the breech why did they not repair it? Also, why did the ambulance take so long to get to scene? Fast medical treatment could have saves the teen’s life. This event is a tragedy, but hopefully the message that vandalizing the security fence and trespassing into Israel proper will be heeded by others. Perhaps future tragedies will be avoided”

    “The Breach Should Be Repaired and Trespassers Should Not Go Through Breach
    By Chaim Ben Kahan 04 Apr 201407:29PM
    First, we have no proof that the teen was just collecting plants. We have seen similar excuses every time a terrorist is killed by a fence. They are always said to be farmers even when they are caught with bombs and weapons. Perhaps more accurately this teen was scouting for terrorist or perhaps not. It’s tragic regardless, but the practice of people climbing through breaches in the security fence is a dangerous one. The fence should be hermetically sealed and mined to prevent breaching. It’s sad that this boy died, but if not for decades of Islamic terrorism against Israel, he would still be alive.”

    (anyone want to bet who he voted for??)

    Horrible. Shameful. Criminal.


  5. bintbiba on March 19, 2015, 7:26 pm

    Stanley Heller , please accept my heartfelt thanks for commemorating the young Yusuf Shawarmeh, so brutally murdered one year ago. It is the children especially that get me tongue-tied…and I can’t find the words that my agitated brain should formulate.
    I stare at his picture and think of his mother , father and the hatred this act is creating beyond their grief.

    Again …. Thank you .

  6. ksosca on March 19, 2015, 10:57 pm

    It is too easy for these deaths, to become commonplace and so, lost. Thank you, Stanley Heller, for keeping the memory of Yusuf alive.

  7. ritzl on March 19, 2015, 11:43 pm

    Yusuf Shawamreh. Just wanted to say his name so I’ll remember it.

    Thanks for remembering, Mr. Heller.

    • bintbiba on March 20, 2015, 7:38 am

      Apologies for misspelling Yusuf Shawamreh’s name.

      ‘Ritzl’ , thanks for the reminder . I was rather distraught at the time…. no excuse !

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