Family of Man Killed by IDF: We Weren’t Allowed to Convince Him to Surrender

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The 24-year-old killed by Israeli forces in Bir Zeit last Thursday was buried in the village’s old Muslim cemetery on Friday. Muataz Washaha’s family said he was assassinated from close range and that commanders on the scene didn’t allow them to try and convince him to give himself up.

After an autopsy was performed at the family’s request, the funeral procession started in Ramallah with a military honor guard, but without a rifle salute, and the masses who attended his funeral in Bir Zeit did not carry weapons.

Ta’ar Washaha, Muataz’s brother, told Haaretz that at about 5:30 A.M. on Thursday, large numbers of Israel Defense Forces troops set up near the family home in the western part of the village. Half an hour earlier, a much smaller force arrested two other young men in a different house down the hill, about 200 meters from the Washahas.

Ta’ar said he and his family were woken by the stun grenades fired at the house. Residents also discovered that cell phone services in the area were disrupted from early in the morning, which led them to believe the army was planning a large operation. Residents estimated that some 200 soldiers were spread out in the neighborhood and the areas leading to it.

The family left their two small houses, situated next to each other, as a result of the stun grenades and calls on loudspeakers to come out.

When Muataz did not come out, they fired an anti-tank missile at the second house, and then a bulldozer destroyed the outside front wall. The soldiers also fired grenades into the top floor of the house and a fire started.

Ta’ar Washaha said he asked “Alon,” a Shin Bet security service officer, to allow him to enter the house to see if Muataz was really there and to try to convince him to come out, but Alon rejected the idea. In a television interview, the mother, A’atzaz, said she also pleaded with the commander to allow her to enter the building and convince her son to come out, and she was also refused.

Later, the Palestinian fire brigade arrived. The firefighters who entered the house said they found Muataz inside, uninjured, and that they did not see any weapons around him. He told the firefighters he did not plan to surrender, and the firefighters left soon after.

Two units broke into the house and a large number of shots were heard. After they left, the family entered and found the body.

An Israeli military statement said that Washaha had been wanted for "suspected terror activity" and that the forces, which later found an assault rifle in the house, were operating under the premise that he was armed.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the killing. "The assassination of martyr Washaha represents a new violation of human rights. Occupation forces deliberately killed martyr Washaha," it said in a statement.

Muataz's father, Awad, works mostly as a laborer, tarring roofs. Four of the five brothers have served time in Israeli prisons for their activities in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Muataz Washaha was an administrative prisoner for a year and a half, and two years ago was sentenced to five months in prison.

The funeral of Muataz Washaha, Friday February 28.Credit: AP

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