A Palestinian man who was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers near Bethlehem on Tuesday had been strolling with a friend in a forest near his home when he was killed, the friend told B’Tselem’s investigator on Thursday.
Amar Shafiq Abu Afifa, a 19-year-old college student, was shot in the leg and then died from another shot to the head, the preliminary investigation into his death shows.
Abu Afifa’s friend told a B’Tselem investigator that they were hiking when they suddenly heard a soldier approaching from the southwest. The soldier was “shouting in Hebrew, and Amar and I ran away,” he said. “I ran ahead of him, and then I heard massive shooting.”
Amar stumbled and got up, the friend recounted, adding that he had shouted at him to run. “The shooting continued, I ran, but I couldn’t see Amar behind me anymore,” he said.
At 5:30 P.M. he learned that Amar had been killed. He had been shocked by the news and wept, he said.
The friend testified that the two left the al-Aroub refugee camp, where they live, at about 4 P.M. for a walk in the nearby forest. “We took some snacks and went out to the forest. It’s a nice place and a lot of people go walking there,” he said.
A photograph of Abu Afifa’s body after his death showed that he was bleeding from the head. The autopsy report from the Interior Ministry said the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.
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Abu Afifa’s family members recalled that he said he was going for a walk before leaving home. “He went walking with his friend because the weather was nice. They often go hiking together,” his cousin, Shadi Abu Afifa, said.
The army reported that Abu Afif had been shot by soldiers from the paratroopers 890 battalion, and that he had likely been struck in the head. The soldiers had been dispatched to the area after sentries reported seeing Palestinians near a lookout point constructed by Israeli settlers.
Palestinians say that the area is a popular spot for families and individuals looking to walk in nature or hike.
“He had recently graduated from high school. He was a college student and the army shot him in the head,” his cousin said. “This is an area where families walk around, a nature spot. If he had wanted to clash with the army he had plenty of opportunities in the refugee camp. But he was a peaceful person, he never did things like that.”
His cousin said the family plans to take legal measures against the army.
Abu Afifa’s body was taken by the army at first, and was returned to the family on Thursday. His funeral took place in al-Aroub, where Abu Afifa was studying accounting at the technical college.