Palestinian Intelligence Official Loses Leg After Being Shot by Israeli Forces

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Barghouti in Beilinson hospital, December 2018.
Barghouti in Beilinson hospital, December 2018. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Israeli forces operating in the West Bank shot an officer from the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Services earlier this month, necessitating that his leg be amputated below the knee.

The intelligence officer, Salah Barghouti, 52, was arrested and taken to Israel for medical treatment. He was handcuffed to his bed at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for three days despite the fact that his leg had just been amputated.

The handcuffs were only removed after intervention by Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj. Barghouti's arrest warrant was also revoked.

Soldiers from the Border Police undercover unit, known by the Hebrew acronym Yamam, shot Barghouti during a raid on the Palestinian village of Kobar on December 12. When word spread that Israeli forces had arrested and apparently killed another man with a similar name, Saleh Barghouti, as a suspect in a shooting attack near the settlement of Ofra, residents flocked to the home of the suspect's parents. Among those who came to the home was Salah Barghouti, the intelligence officer.

A relative and friend of the intelligence official – who, like him, is a former Fatah activist – said the house and its grounds were packed with people at the time who had come to pay their condolences to Saleh Barghouti's family over the death of their son Saleh.

Israeli security forces searching the Ofra settlement area, December 2018. Credit: IDF Spokesperson

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And then, at about 8:30 P.M., a truck with Palestinian license plates stopped outside the house. Uniformed Israeli soldiers emerged from the truck and some of them positioned themselves around the home. According to a relative who was there, the Israeli soldiers were surprised by the large number of people present.

Later it became apparent that the soldiers had come to arrest Omar Barghouti, the head of the household and the father of the suspect in Ofra attack. They also planned to arrest other sons of Omar Barghouti. The soldiers remained in the house for several hours, collected the identity cards of everyone present, detained men on the roof of the house and handcuffed, questioned and detained several others.

According to a relative, the soldiers began shooting in the air as soon as they entered the courtyard of the home and also threw a stun grenade into the house while it was full of people. People in the courtyard tried to run away from the soldiers and from the shooting.

Salah Barghouti, the intelligence official, who was in civilian clothes, ran toward the garden of the house and the soldiers shot him in the left leg. As he lay there bleeding, he managed, before losing consciousness, to tell the soldiers that he has diabetes and takes blood-thinning medication. A few days later, he told a friend by phone that he had felt as if “my leg had been cut in two, that my leg was gone.”

Bystanders saw the soldiers treating Barghouti and removing him from the premises. According to a relative, his family did not know his whereabouts for another two days, however.

When Salah Barghouti, the intelligence official, regained consciousness, he was in an Israeli hospital with one leg amputated and the other cuffed to the bed, along with one hand. Since he was under arrest, there was also a guard present around the clock.

It was only on Sunday of last week that his cuffs were removed and that the guard left. In the interim, however, during his hospital stay, Barghouti had a heart attack, underwent a second operation and had other medical procedures. On Sunday of this week, he is scheduled to be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah in the West Bank.

In a response for this article, the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit said: “Salah Barghouti was arrested in the village of Kobar after fleeing from Yamam forces during an arrest of suspects in the shooting attack at Ofra, which occurred on December 9, 2018. During the attempt to arrest him, he was wounded and given first aid by a Yamam doctor and paramedics. An Israeli army medical team then took him to Beilinson Hospital, where he received advanced medical care. He arrived at the emergency room and was rushed to the operating room, where doctors had to amputate his leg.”

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