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New call for US investigation into killing of Palestinian-American teen in West Bank

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The American Friends Service Committee, a rights group, called on President Barack Obama to launch an investigation into the death of a Palestinian-American teenager killed by the Israeli military in February.

The killing of 16-year-old Mahmoud Shaalan, born in Florida, happened near the Beit El settlement, also the headquarters of the Civil Administration, which coordinates the day-to-day chore of the occupation. The AFSC said that the U.S. must investigate this allegation against its ally. The Israeli military maintains that Shaalan, the teenager it dubs a “terrorist,” stabbed an Israeli soldier and then got shot in return.

AFSC is calling on Sen. Patrick Leahy and others in congress to follow through on the concern they expressed to the State Dept. earlier this year concerning the American child’s death. The United States failing to sanction Israel for its actions against American citizens usually takes the form of finding little help from the U.S. consulate, sometimes as border officials are denying them entry at the border. Less usual is the death of an American citizen thanks to weapons American tax dollars helped purchase.

The advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace also called for an investigation.

“We don’t know the circumstances relating to Mahmoud’s death. But we can, and we should. Mahmoud was a U.S. citizen, yet not one public official at the White House or State Department has publicly called for an investigation into his death,” JVP wrote in an email.

Family members and witnesses tell Haaretz that they do not believe the boy was doing more than trying to cross a checkpoint in a place under military occupation, a sometimes deadly ordeal. A witness said he saw the soldier shoot Shalaan in the back. His family maintains he was not inspired by politics of any stripe and planned on returning to the U.S.

His family first found out of his death after photos surfaced on Facebook of the boy’s body lying, bleeding, on the ground for two hours.

“The United States has an obligation to investigate Mahmoud’s case and dozens of other apparent extrajudicial killings committed by Israeli forces since last October with the assistance of U.S. tax dollars,” the AFSC statement reads online, accompanied by a form allowing supporters to sign their names.

“This killing should be investigated, both because Mahmoud deserves the same protections as any other U.S. citizen, and because he was likely killed with weapons subsidized by U.S. tax dollars,” the letter adds.

A call to Sen. Leahy’s office was not immediately returned.

The circumstances under which Shaalan died remain unclear in the absence of an investigation, the AFSC contends. The Israeli military stopped a Palestinian ambulance from passing through to help the wounded teenager, according to AFSC and others.

The IDF gave this response to Haaretz when the paper asked about the circumstances of the young man’s death: “On Feb. 26, 2016, the terrorist Mahmoud Shaalan arrived at the checkpoint in Ramallah and stabbed an IDF soldier. The terrorist was shot by the force but again tried to attack the soldiers, so additional fire was carried out. He received medical treatment at the site from an IDF unit and from Magen David Adom [Israeli rescue service]. After the attack, the body was left at the site for verification purposes, was identified by Palestinian individuals and throughout was covered and guarded by IDF forces. The circumstances of the event are being investigated, and the findings will be conveyed to the office of the military advocate general.”

Haaretz reporter Gideon Levy found an eyewitness, who requested anonymity, saying that Shaalan was trying to get through a checkpoint normally closed to foot traffic. A soldier told him to leave, but as Shaalan did so, the soldier shot him in the back, possibly after an exchange of words. The witness did not see a knife in Shaalan’s hand.

Meanwhile, the family mourns for its son and asks questions that the families of people in the U.S. lost to police violence: Even if what the authorities says is true, why did they have to kill a child and not simply arrest him?

Shaalan’s uncle, Salman, summed up his grievances for Haaretz by calling out Israel for bias against Palestinians. Others have made the same point before, but Shaalan puts it in stark terms.

“This is a discriminatory country. It’s a country based on discrimination. The life of everyone who is not an Israeli is not considered to be worth anything. They violate every moral code and law. It was murder in cold blood, and nothing in the world can justify such murder. Their goal is to sow terror in the people and make their lives miserable, until they make them leave the country,” he said.

“The checkpoint itself is illegal. It does not serve Israel’s security. It is a checkpoint between villages and Ramallah and is intended only to ‘haze’ people by forcing them to go completely out of their way to get to Ramallah or El Bireh. We live in a situation of injustice. There is no justification for killing a 16-year-old boy. He was an American who lived a very comfortable life here, who was not bothered by the occupation. He only wanted to exercise his right to cross the checkpoint.”

Shaalan’s father Mohammed was in Florida when he found out his son had been shot five times by Israelis  and died. The youth had wanted to live and study in Palestine because of the quaint, comfortable circumstances of Palestinian village life in Deir Dibwan. Like the parent of any child killed on a trip overseas, Mohammed expressed disbelief, saying he felt the village was safe.

“If I’d thought it was, I would not have allowed him to stay,” he said.

About Wilson Dizard

Wilson Dizard is a freelance reporter and photojournalist covering politics, civil rights, drug policy and everything else. He lives in Brooklyn with his bicycle, camera and drum set.

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20 Responses

  1. Ossinev
    Ossinev on September 6, 2016, 11:32 am

    “On Feb. 26, 2016, the terrorist Mahmoud Shaalan arrived at the checkpoint in Ramallah and stabbed an IDF soldier. The terrorist was shot by the force but again tried to attack the soldiers, so additional fire was carried out”

    Perhaps they should be issued with a set of golf irons and given some basic swing training – if threatened then I suggest a No 6 iron would do the job best and will fell the terrifying qualitatively edged attacker with no waste of American taxpayer funded high calibre bullets. No wait it would be nowhere near as much fun and there would be no guarantee of an Arab kill to notch up on the league table on their Barracks room wall.

    Wow these JSILI soldiers are so incredibly brave – they must be itching to have a go at real opponents such as Hezbollah where all their anti – knife training and their most morality will teach those real nasties a lesson they will not forget. Having said that it probably would be best in the next battle with Hezbollah to forgo the golf clubs and spend the money instead on triple reinforced diapers. They will soon be pooping uncontrollably when having to deal with people who are actually battle trained and battle hardened and yes will be firing back at them.

    And top marks once again for a further display of world leading American patriotism and protection of its citizens abroad – unless they are Palestinian Americans in which case JSIL has the right to defend itself etc etc etc and we don`t wan`t to upset the Elders back here in the ” Land of the Unfree from Zionism” and risk losing access to all those Ziodollars by questioning or God forbid actually criticizing what JSIL does and says.

  2. Kay24
    Kay24 on September 6, 2016, 11:33 am

    Obviously if this was a Jewish American killed by Hamas or some other group in some Palestinian territory, there would have been the usual outrage, and the politicizing of such a killing by the ADL, Rabbi Schmuckly, and all the other Israel firsters of America, including the puppets in Congress, demanding an investigation and even threatening to cut the aid that goes to the Palestinians.

    But since the killers were zionists in uniform, all we can hear are crickets, the same reaction when poor Rachel Corrie was killed trying to stop a bulldozer from breaking international laws. How sad.

    • DaBakr
      DaBakr on September 10, 2016, 10:25 pm


      right k, like there was really a large outcry for an investigation of the 13yrs old american girl who had her throat cut from a ‘lone wolf’ incited by his elders and so-called leaders.

      • talknic
        talknic on September 11, 2016, 11:03 pm

        Is there no end to the idiocy?

        @ DaBakr September 10, 2016, 10:25 pm

        “… like there was really a large outcry for an investigation of the 13yrs old american girl who had her throat cut from a ‘lone wolf’ … … “

        “The assailant was shot and killed, the Israel Defense Forces said”.

        You want them to interrogate his dead body? If they did investigate it wouldn’t surprise me if they found some other culprit, illegal settlers aren’t exactly known for their adherence to any moral code I’m aware of

      • Jon66
        Jon66 on September 12, 2016, 8:19 am


        “If they did investigate it wouldn’t surprise me if they found some other culprit, – See more at:

        As you’ve said many times before, “Speculation can be fun. You can say anything”.

  3. John O
    John O on September 6, 2016, 12:16 pm

    Genuine question. If a British citizen is killed abroad in these sorts of circumstance, a coroner’s inquest is held. Does the USA not have any similar procedures?

    For example, the death of British photographer Tom Hurndall at the hands of the IDF in 2004 was ruled “unlawful killing” by a British coroner’s court:

    • annie
      annie on September 6, 2016, 12:45 pm

      Does the USA not have any similar procedures?

      probably, but rarely does anything come of them. for the most part i think they just accept the israeli narrative.

      • John O
        John O on September 6, 2016, 1:20 pm

        Thanks, Annie. I know such a court verdict cannot bring back the dead, but it does say in Tom Hurndall’s case – and quite powerfully – that the Israeli narrative is not believed in Britain – and that’s official.

    • eljay
      eljay on September 6, 2016, 1:22 pm

      || John O: … the death of British photographer Tom Hurndall at the hands of the IDF in 2004 was ruled “unlawful killing” by a British coroner’s court … ||

      I think the most one can hope for from an American court is a ruling of “unhelpful killing”.

      • amigo
        amigo on September 6, 2016, 2:47 pm

        “I think the most one can hope for from an American court is a ruling of “unhelpful killing”.eljay

        They ran “deeply troubling ” by the local aipac rep and he rejected that as anti Israel and ergo an antisemitic statement.

        The US mustn,t upset the special relationship and create light between them and certainly not because of one dead terrorist supporter , albeit an American citizen .

      • genesto
        genesto on September 7, 2016, 12:45 pm

        The best you can hope for is ‘concerning’ from the Zionist-controlled State Dept.

  4. ritzl
    ritzl on September 6, 2016, 1:24 pm

    Being an American was probably what got him killed. He assumed he had every right to go where and when he wanted to go. Aka freedom.

    Sadly, exercising freedom appears to be a capital offense in Israel. More alarmingly, those Israeli mores are creeping/done creeped into our US political culture as the reluctance to investigate this shows. US citizens should be very on edge about this trend. We’re next.

    As genesto said a bit ago, “We are all Palestinians.”

  5. captADKer
    captADKer on September 7, 2016, 8:32 am

    are pro pal americans here being informed of the alternative there- that their public school educations could be advanced in “the quaint comfortable circumstances of palestinian village life”? why not groups as JVP or BLM endeavor to make this happen.

  6. Citizen
    Citizen on September 7, 2016, 9:37 am

    The lack of protection by USA for its own citizens of Palestinian background is NOT acceptable.

    • Talkback
      Talkback on September 8, 2016, 8:49 am

      The USA doesn’t protect its citizens. It protects the interests of its elite. And the elite loves to lick Israelis boots and let its own citizens pay for it.

  7. Citizen
    Citizen on September 7, 2016, 10:05 am

    CAIR Florida also has a letter to Obama on this matter, which you can sign.

  8. genesto
    genesto on September 7, 2016, 12:54 pm

    And we are still waiting for justice for US/Turkish citizen Furkhan Dogan’s murder at the hands of the Israeli navy during the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla attack in 2010. Instead of true justice, the Zionist-controlled State Dept. deferred to the Israelis to investigate. That’s about as absurd as the reason the Israeli authorities gave us for arresting us and putting us in prison for that humanitarian effort – that we were illegally entering Israel!! Seriously, folks, that’s what we were told.

    The Israel lobby has such a stronghold on our government that Israel can say and do what it wants, even with our own citizens, and not be held accountable. Israel can even make up absurd charges against us, while our own government cowers in fear before it.

    • Marnie
      Marnie on September 7, 2016, 11:46 pm

      Anything goes as long as the blood being shed belongs to the other, and their country of origin makes no never mind to the zionist enterprise or it’s lap dog, the united states.

  9. mcohen.
    mcohen. on September 12, 2016, 10:47 pm

    do they investigate when a jewish american is killed ?
    just wondering
    do they call on the us to investigate?
    why not
    how about scotland yard
    or brixton murder and robbery
    somebody should

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer on September 13, 2016, 2:48 pm


      Have you ever made such a call yourself? If not then why not since you believe they should?

      It’s not the competence of Israeli authorities that is in questuon. It is their lack of impartiality and racist devaluing of non Jewish lives. Their investigations in such cases have been shown to be a fraud and coverup.

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