Israeli Arab Shot by Soldiers at West Bank Checkpoint; Official Says Wounded in Family Dispute

35-year-old Faris Azzam and his family insist he was wrongfully shot while Israeli soldiers initially claimed he tried to run them over

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File photo: Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Nablus in the West Bank.
File photo: Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Nablus in the West Bank. Credit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP

An Israeli Arab man was shot by Israeli soldiers at a military checkpoint in the West Bank on Monday, but an Israeli official claimed the soldiers only aimed at his car and that his moderate wounds are the result of "a family dispute."

Israeli troops initially said they opened fire because they suspected 35-year-old Faris Azzam tried to run them over. However, he was not arrested and told Haaretz he was wrongfully shot after not hearing a soldier telling him to stop.

The military first said it was investigating the incident, which took place near the West Bank city of Tul Karm. On Tuesday the army stated that it “was not classified as a terrorist incident,” which was also why Azzam was not detained.

Azzam, a citizen of Israel from Taybeh, was driving to visit his father when the shooting occurred at a temporary checkpoint, which was erected the day before. 

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"I arrived at the checkpoint. I was listening to music. The air-conditioner was on. The car windows were closed," Azzam said from his hospital bed in Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. "I think [a soldier] called at me to stop. I didn't notice. I braked. I took a bullet. Then I floored it. They gave me everything, [they shot at] the car, the wheels, everything. I drove for a kilometer, something like that. Then I called for an ambulance." 

A military official said, “The suspect didn’t adhere to the soldiers’ calls to stop, which prompted them to shoot at his car wheels. The suspect was not wounded by the force’s shots.”

Azzam's brother Fayed added: "At around 11 or 12 at night he went to see his father. The family from Tul Karm ... He didn't see the soldiers at the side. Apparently they called to him. He didn't hear, he passed them and they started shooting at him, six or seven bullets. One hit him. He couldn't stop. That's why he fled. They would've killed him."

Regarding the army’s claim that his brother was suspected of a terror attack, Fayed said, “They always lie ... The car has Israeli license plates, look before you shoot.”

Fayed said that half an hour after his brother was admitted to the hospital, the security forces left: "At first they said he was under arrest. After half an hour they left. They said he's not under arrest and not anything." Other members of Azzam's family also insist he was shot for no reason.