A 65-year-old Palestinian was left in critical condition after being hit by an Israeli police tow truck that was confiscating unregistered vehicles in the Hebron area on Wednesday.
Witnesses told Haaretz that Haj Suleiman Hathaleen was trying to block the road, in his West Bank village of Umm al-Khair. After he was hit, they said the truck continued on its way, and the police at the scene did not assist Hathaleen.
According to police, dozens of Palestinian were blocking the road to stop the tow truck and throwing stones at the Israeli force. The driver was hit in the head, and the truck's windshield was shattered.
Police and Palestinian witnesses said a soldier who was there fired several warning shots in the air.
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A Red Crescent team was called to the scene and evacuated Hathaleen to Al-Mezan Hospital in Hebron. He remains in intensive care with skull fractures, Al-Mezan said.
Hathaleen's brother told Haaretz that he was unconscious for several minutes. “To hit an old man as if he had threatened someone defies all logic," the brother said. "Now they’ll probably just accuse him of anything, just to pin the blame on him.”
The police stated on Wednesday that “a Palestinian who apparently ran toward the tow truck was injured," but on Thursday described a "violent riot... that put the force at risk."
"While the forced headed out, as stones were being thrown, one of the rioters sprinted toward the tow truck, fell to the ground and was injured," the police said. "Given the situation that emerged, in which an agitated mob tried to cause real harm to the force, it was impossible to stop and assist the injured person."