Israeli Guards Shoot Palestinian With Hearing and Speech Impairment at West Bank Checkpoint

60-year-old said to be in light-to-moderate condition after incident at Qalandiya checkpoint, hours after separate shooting incident in Bethlehem ■ Civilian security guard in police custody, under investigation

Aaron Rabinowitz
Jack Khoury
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Israeli private security contractors shot at a man suffering from a speech and hearing disability during an arrest at Qalandiya checkpoint, West Bank, August 17, 2020.
Israeli private security contractors shot at a man suffering from a speech and hearing disability during an arrest at Qalandiya checkpoint, West Bank, August 17, 2020.
Aaron Rabinowitz
Jack Khoury

A 60-year-old Palestinian was shot and wounded on Monday by Israeli private security contractors at the Qalandiya checkpoint, a busy crossing between Jerusalem and the northern West Bank, hours after a separate shooting incident in Bethlehem. The security guard is in police custody. 

According to an Israel Border Police statement, the 60-year-old approached the checkpoint on foot in a lane reserved for vehicles. The man did not reply to calls to stop, the statement said, and security guards shot him in the lower limbs. They then realized he has a disability and cannot hear or communicate.

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He was taken to a nearby Israeli hospital for treatment and his condition is said to be light to moderate.

The police released a statement in which it said the security guard, a civilian, is being held for questioning following the shooting, and the police have opened an investigation into the incident. The guard was arrested on suspicion that he opened fire "not in accordance with the protocol for stopping suspicious figures," and police say that they have footage of the event.

Palestinians crossing Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank, June 2, 2019.Credit: Emil Salman

This comes as Israeli policing tactics have come under scrutiny, following the killing of autistic Palestinian Eyad Hallaq by Border Police officers in similar circumstances in Jerusalem in May.

Joint List lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman said in a tweet that “shooting at a disabled man once again exposes the occupation forces’ criminal behavior against the Palestinians.” The incident, she said, shows “trigger-happy” forces use “no judgement.”

“Such crimes highlight from time to time the occupation’s crimes, but they are committed every hour of every day,” Touma-Sliman added. 

Earlier, a Palestinian was shot near Rachel's Tomb in the city of Bethlehem. According to an army statement, he had attempted to throw a Molotov cocktail at the religious site, which is under Israeli control.

The West Bank separation barrier around Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem, 2020. Credit: Mahmoud Illean

In 2002, Israel built a separation barrier around Rachel Tomb, effectively annexing it to Jerusalem.

There was no immediate information on the man's condition, but according to Palestinian reports, the 18-year-old was wounded and taken to a hospital in Bethelem, where medical officials said his condition is stable.

The situation in the West Bank remains tense, but tampered somewhat by coronavirus fears and movement restrictions. Palestinians came out to protest against the peace deal between Israel and the UAE in several locations over the last few days.

Coordination mechanisms between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, which were interrupted following threats of annexation by the Netanyahu government, and escalating tensions over the Trump Mideast plan, have not resumed.

Last week, Haaretz reported that the Public Security Ministry has barred its own staff and representatives of the Israel Police from participating in an inter-ministerial committee aimed at improving the interaction of law enforcement personnel with people with disabilities.

The panel was convened under the auspices of President Reuven Rivlin following Eyad Hallaq's shooting. Police apparently found Hallaq suspicious, but he did not understand orders to halt and sought to flee, then was shot.

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