Military police investigators are looking into the circumstances of the shooting death Wednesday of a 21-year-old Bethlehem woman, Lubnah Hanash. The IDF Spokesman declined to say whether Hanash, who is the first woman killed by IDF fire in the West Bank since April 2007, had been targeted in the shooting.
- Avner Gvaryahu / The Real Rules of Engagement
- Report: Four Palestinians Wounded in Gaza Strip
- No Charges in Army Abuse Cases, 2012
- Soldier Linked to Palestinian's Death Remanded for Extra Week
The IDF confirmed the incident, saying an initial investigation revealed that an army squad was ambushed by firebombs and rocks on Highway 60 near the Al-Aroub refugee camp and opened fire, fearing for their lives. Hanash was allegedly killed by an Israel Defense Forces officer at about 2 P.M. on a stretch of Route 60 in the West Bank between Bethlehem and Hebron.
According to a deputy commander of the Judea regional brigade, Shahar Matana, the incident occurred when he and another IDF officer were on their way from Jerusalem to Hebron. Matana said a group of young people threw Molotov cocktails at him from the side of the highway near the Al-Aroub refugee camp. The two officers left their car and one of them allegedly opened fire while the other gave chase after the young people.
Hanash, a university student from a refugee camp in Bethlehem, was critically injured and died in surgery at a Hebron hospital. Another young woman was also shot and lightly wounded in the incident. The two were on their way from a college near the highway and apparently planned to catch a bus home.
An eyewitness who lives near the highway told Haaretz that he had been at home when he heard shooting and went outside, where he saw the two officers, neither of whom was wearing a flak jacket or helmet. The witness, who reported that he did not see Hanash being shot, said one of the soldiers fired his weapon while the other gave chase.
The two soldiers were not in the course of a military operation when the incident occurred on a stretch of highway that has been the scene of past disturbances. There were other IDF soldiers less than a kilometer from the scene who could have been called upon to handle the disturbance. The actual shooting occurred 40 meters from the road.
In an unrelated incident, a 15-year-old boy from Bethlehem, Salah Amarin, died Wednesday at Hadassah University Hospital at Ein Karem in Jerusalem after being shot by Israeli troops on Friday near Rachel’s Tomb in the Bethlehem area. He had initially been taken to a local hospital, but was transferred to Hadassah for further treatment. The army said that he had been firing stones with a slingshot at an IDF position when he was shot.
There were clashes with IDF troops near Rachel’s Tomb during his funeral Wednesday and the area around the tomb was closed to visitors.
Amarin was the fourth unarmed Palestinian killed this month in the West Bank by security forces. On Saturday, Uday Kamil Mohammed Darwish, 21, from a village near Hebron, was killed after trying to cut through the security fence in the settlement of Metzadot Yehuda (Beit Yatir). On Tuesday, Samir Awad, 16, was killed near the village of Budrus.
Investigations have been opened into the latter two cases, in which it appears that soldiers opened fire in violation of established procedure.
The army is on a footing geared to deal with violent incidents in the West Bank, and GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon signed an order 10 days ago creating a new criminal offense in the West Bank for endangering an individual on a public road, an offense that already exists in Israeli law. It carries a 20-year jail term.