Witnesses Refute Israeli Army's Claim Palestinian Killed by Soldiers Tried to Run Them Over

Two eyewitnesses, including Osama Mansour's wife, say he wasn't speeding toward the soldiers at a checkpoint south of Ramallah. The Israeli army said it's looking into the incident

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Sumaya Mansour and one of her children in mourning this past week.
Sumaya Mansour and one of her children in mourning this past week.Credit: Ahmad Gharabli / AFP
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

Two eyewitnesses have denied the army’s claim that a Palestinian driver who was killed by soldiers south of Ramallah Tuesday had accelerated toward the soldiers as if he were planning to run them over.

The driver’s wife, who was in the car and was wounded by the gunfire, also refuted the soldiers’ story. All three witnesses said there were no soldiers in the path of the car.

The Israel Defense Forces said Osama Mansour was trying to run over soldiers at a checkpoint, adding that their car accelerated toward the soldiers in a way that endangered their lives.

Mansour’s wife, Sumaya, said the couple was returning home to the village of Biddu after visiting a clinic in Bir Naballah. They stopped at a temporary checkpoint soldiers had set up in Al Jib by parking military vehicles in the road.

The soldiers signaled them to stop by flashing their car lights, Sumaya said, and the Mansours in fact stopped and turned off the engine.

A witness who lives across from the provisory checkpoint told Haaretz he heard a loud argument between the driver and the soldiers.

Sumaya Mansour said the soldiers asked them where they were coming from and going to. They then signaled that Mansours could proceed, so Osama started the car and began driving.

He passed the military vehicles and the soldiers standing nearby on the right. But a few meters past the checkpoint, the soldiers suddenly shot at the back of their car, Sumaya said.

The witness who lives nearby said he heard the soldiers shouting “Halt, halt.” He and the second witness, who spoke with the B’Tselem organization, both said there were no soldiers in front of the car as it began driving.

After the first shots hit, Osama did speed up, Sumaya said. A group of soldiers ahead of them then opened fire as well. But they also weren’t in the path of the vehicle, because it was on the road’s shoulder.

Sumaya was hit in the back by shrapnel, she said. “A moment later, I saw [Osama] was zigzagging and I said, ‘Why don’t you drive like you should?’ Then I saw that he had fallen into the well between the driver’s seat and my seat, and he didn’t say anything. I put him on my chest and drove in his place until I saw a car with young men in it and honked at them so they’d help me take him to the hospital.”

One of  the witnesses said the Mansours’ car collided with a guardrail repeatedly. Sumaya said it finally came to a halt only after several hundred meters.

Sumaya said the soldiers didn’t chase the car after shooting at it. Unlike in other cases of suspected terror attacks, they didn’t seize Osama’s body, arrest Sumaya or even summon her for questioning.

The witness, who lives near the scene, said that about 15 minutes later, the soldiers did confiscate the car. They then collected the bullet casings.

Osama was still alive when he reached the hospital, but died soon afterward, having been shot in the head. Sumaya suffered only mild injuries and was discharged later that day.

The couple have five children. “Who thinks they’d leave five children at home and go out to commit a terror attack?” Osama’s mother, Jamila, asked, weeping, at their home in Biddu last week.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the Military Police are investigating the incident and their findings will be sent to the military prosecution.

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