Human Rights groups up pressure on Obama to investigate Israeli killing of U.S. citizen

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Earlier this month we reported the call by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) for a U.S. investigation into killing of Mahmoud Shaalan, a Palestinian-American teen killed by Israeli forces in West Bank. The following is an update, AFSC’s latest press release, about a letter sent to President Obama today by 15 organizations, reiterating the call for a U.S. investigation and demanding Israel publicly release all evidence related to Israel’s investigation into Shaalan’s killing, thus far undisclosed by Israeli authorities. 

Fifteen human rights, civil rights, and faith organizations today sent a letter calling on President Obama to demand that Israel publicly release all evidence related to the recent investigation into the fatal shooting of U.S. citizen Mahmoud Shaalan by Israeli soldiers. Signatories of the letter include the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Presbyterian Church (USA), Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Defense for Children International – Palestine, and the National Lawyers Guild. (Read the full text of the letter here.)

On February 26, Shaalan, a 16-year-old Palestinian-American born and raised in Florida, was shot by Israeli soldiers multiple times at a checkpoint near the Beit El settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. After Shaalan was shot, soldiers reportedly stripped his body, left him bleeding on the road for more than two hours, and prevented a Palestinian ambulance from approaching.

Israeli authorities have informed U.S. officials that they found no criminal wrongdoing and that Israel will not further pursue the case. Israel has not released any details or evidence collected from the investigation.

“We are also calling on the administration to conduct an independent investigation into the killing of Mahmoud Shaalan,” said Raed Jarrar, Government Relations Manager at American Friends Service Committee. “As the largest supplier of military aid to Israel, the U.S. has a responsibility to make sure weapons we supplied were not used in this unlawful killing.”

“At a time when cameras have documented officer-involved shootings of civilians in the US, it is shocking that the White House has yet to publicly demand that Israel release the video footage from its own fatal shooting of U.S. citizen Mahmoud Shaalan,” said Sunjeev Bery, Middle East North Africa Advocacy Director for Amnesty International USA. “It is time for the Obama Administration to publicly demand that Israel release all video footage from the military checkpoint where Israeli soldiers fatally shot a U.S. citizen.”

“Israel has enjoyed utter impunity for killing United States citizens Rachel Corrie, Furkan Doğan, and now Mahmoud Shaalan, as well as gravely injuring many more,” said Maria  LaHood, Deputy Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “It is long past time for the United States government to stand up to Israel and demand transparency and accountability for killing our citizens, and to conduct its own thorough investigation.” 

“The Jewish tradition teaches, that ‘whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he has destroyed an entire world,’” said Rabbi Joseph Berman, Manager of Government Affairs and Grassroots Advocacy Jewish Voice for Peace. “When the state has taken a life, they have destroyed an entire world and they are obligated to investigate and take responsibility for their actions.”

The organizations signed on to the letter are:

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

American Muslims for Palestine

Amnesty International USA

Arab-American Institute (AAI)

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Defense for Children International – Palestine

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

National Lawyers Guild (NLG)

Presbyterian Church (USA)

 United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

 United Methodist Kairos Response

 US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

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HRW is MIA. Human Rights Watch is now presumed Missing In Action.