Unarmed Palestinian Shot by Accident, 'Soldiers' Lives Were Threatened,' Israeli Army Says

IDF says 24 year old Harun Abu Aram, who was shot in the neck, was hit by stray fire ■ Human rights group B'Tselem: '53 years of occupation and the IDF still justifies murdering and injuring Palestinians'

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A screenshot from the video showing soldiers clashing with Palestinians near Hebron, January 1, 2021.
A screenshot from the video showing soldiers clashing with Palestinians near Hebron, January 1, 2021.Credit:

Forces present at the shooting of Harun Abu Aram were in a "life-threatening situation," the Israeli army said Thursday, following the conclusion of the investigation into the incident.

The army said that Abu Aram had been hit by a stray bullet fired when a Palestinian tried to seize the commander's weapon. 

Abu Aram was shot following a dispute at a building site in the village of al-Rakiz, half of which falls inside an Israeli military zone. Abu Aram was shot in the neck and evacuated in critical condition to a hospital in the city of Yatta. According to the hospital report from the Ahli Hospital in Hebron, he is now paralyzed.

“The investigation revealed that a violent riot unfolded, where IDF forces were attacked by a number of Palestinians who sought to obstruct IDF enforcement activity,” said a official statement provided by the IDF Spokesperson.

“After the Palestinians refused to evacuate the area and continued to attack IDF forces, the commander fired warning shots into the air. During the warning shots, the Palestinians continued to violently attack the commander, and one Palestinian forcibly pulled him, whilst another one seized his weapon. As a result, undirected fire struck another Palestinian who was part of the riot.”

The B'Tselem human rights slammed the IDF investigation, saying that after 53 years of occupation, the IDF has trained the Israeli media to publish evert statement released by the IDF Spokesperson. 

“During 53 years of occupation, the IDF Spokesperson has developed the skill of justifying killing and injuring all Palestinians, even if he was just holding a generator, playing in his backyard at home, or shot in the back,” B’Tselem said.

Video from the incident shows soldiers confiscating a generator from a group of Palestinians, who are trying to take it back. A shot is heard at one point, after which one of the Palestinians is seen lying on the ground. The actual shooting was not captured.

Murad Hammamdi, Abu Aram’s neighbor and witness to the shooting, told Haaretz that the Israel Defense Forces soldiers arrived with Civil Administration officials. Hammamdi said the soldiers seemed “as though they were heading into a war, armed with guns, and they immediately barged into a house without permission.” 

Abu Aram arrived at the scene when he heard the confrontation between IDF soldiers and local Palestinians that ensued after the break-in, where locals tried to stop the soldiers from confisacting the generator. Witnesses said Harun tried to pull the generator toward him, then soldiers fired, hitting him in the neck. 

The statement also said an additional inquiry will be opened by Military Police, and will include testimonies from Palestinian witnesses, medical information, as well as statements from other relevant sources.

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