Israeli Troops Shot Palestinian When He Tried to Stop Them From Seizing a Generator, Witness Says

Harun Abu Aram was shot in the neck by Israeli forces near Hebron, witnesses say, as he remains hospitalized and on life support ■ Forces seemed 'as though they were heading into a war'

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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An image of the incident in which Abu Aram was shot in the village of al-Rakiz in the southern Hebron Hills, January 1, 2021.
An image of the incident in which Abu Aram was shot in the village of al-Rakiz in the southern Hebron Hills, January 1, 2021.
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

A 24-year-old Palestinian man shot in the neck by the Israeli military is in serious condition and on life support, according to a report issued Saturday by medical staff at the Ahli Hospital in Hebron.

Harun Abu Aram was shot amid clashes in the southern Hebron hills on Friday, following a dispute at a building site in the village of al-Rakiz, half of which falls inside an Israeli military zone. According to the hospital report, his limbs are now paralyzed.

In a video of the incident, the sound of the shooting can be heard as soldiers were arguing with Palestinians about seizing a generator, yet the moment of the shooting does not appear on film. The Israeli army said that soldiers arrived at the site of the incident to end illegal construction, and the shooting followed clashes with locals, who threw stones at the soldiers. 

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.” 

Hammamdi said the soldiers pushed family members onto the floor and kicked a child. “We tried to get them to talk to us, we asked why there were behaving in such a way,” he said.

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. 

Hammamdi said that afterwards one of the residents turned on his car to take Harun to the hospital, a soldier shot at one of the tires. 

The IDF spokesperson’s unit said on Friday that “during a routine mission to seize and evacuate an illegal building by IDF forces and border police in the village of Atawni in the Judea district, a violent disturbance ensued concerning around 150 Palestinians including stone-throwing on a massive scale. IDF fighters responded using measures to disperse the crowd and fired into the air. During the disturbances there was a violent incident in which there was violent behavior toward soldiers on the part of several Palestinians.”

Another statement by the IDF issued on Saturday says forces were there to "seize tools used for illegal construction," rather than enforce a demolition order.

The European Union condemned the incident, and a tweet from the official account for its delegation to the Palestinian territories said it "opposes such excessive and disproportionate use of force and calls on the Israeli authorities to swiftly and fully investigate this serious incident in order to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Contradicting the IDF’s statement, witnesses told Haaretz that there were not 150 people present before the shooting. In addition, the incident took place in al-Rakiz, not Atawni. 

It is very hard for Palestinians to obtain permits to build in Area C, where al-Rakiz is located, with only few permits dealt in recent years. 

Figures provided in response to a freedom of information request by the Bimkom organization reveal that from 2016 to 2018 Palestinians submitted 1,485 requests for building permits in Area C but the Civil Administration approved only 21 requests, or 1.4 percent. According to Civil Administration data, during the same period, 2,147 demolition notices were dealt to Palestinian buildings in the area.

Data of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA) show Israel demolished 664 Palestinian buildings in Area C of the West Bank in 2020, 110 of which had people living there.

Jack Khoury contributed to this report.

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