Palestinian Killed by Israeli Soldiers in West Bank Posed No Threat, Initial Army Probe Finds

Twenty-two-year-old Omar Haitham al-Badawi was shot during clashes with Israeli security forces in the Al-Aroub refugee camp ■ Circumstances seem to indicate he posed no threat, says UN envoy Mladenov

Mourners carry the body of Omar al-Badawi during his funeral in al-Arroub refugee camp in the West Bank, November 11, 2019.
MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ REUTERS

Israeli security forces shot and killed a Palestinian on Monday during clashes with residents of a refugee camp in the southern West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry and Israeli army said.

Omar Haitham al-Badawi was hit by Israeli gunfire Monday in the Al-Aroub refugee camp, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported. Al-Badawi was rushed to the hospital in Hebron with a gunshot wound to the chest, where he succumbed to his wounds, the ministry said.

A video which circulated on social media showed al-Badawi approaching the soldiers slowly, and someone can be heard calling him to bring water. A shot is then heard and al-Badawi collapses to the ground. 

Military police launched an investigation into the incident after an initial IDF investigation indicated that al-Badawi did not pose a threat to the soldiers when he was shot, and that they should not have used live ammunition.

The investigation was conducted at the division level, based on video evidence and the questioning of the soldiers who were present at the time of the shooting. The Israeli army said they did not know whether al-Badawi was involved in throwing Molotov cocktails before the shooting.

According to the army, Givati Brigade forces arrived on the scene after stones were thrown at Highway 60. The soldiers pushed the stone throwers back into the refugee camp, where Molotov cocktails were hurled at them.

A soldier saw Al-Badawi in the area where Molotov cocktails were thrown, standing near a fire with a towel in his hand. According to the initial investigation, the soldier thought it was a Molotov cocktail and therefore fired at him.

The Israeli army said that since the shooting occurred while Molotov cocktails were being thrown at the soldiers, it is treating the shooting as part of a wider operational incident, rather than a specific event. 

United Nations' Mideast envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, lamented the incident on Twitter, writing that al-Badawi did not seem to endanger anyone when he was killed.

"Shocking to see the video today’s killing of Omar Badawi by #Israeli security forces in #Hebron in circumstances that would seem to indicate that he posed no threat to anyone. My deepest condolences to his family. Such acts must be thoroughly investigated," Mladenov wrote.

Journalist Abdel Rahman Hassan, who documented the incident, spoke to Haaretz about the events leading up to the shooting. He said that clashes took place between young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers near the military tower, and at one point, the Israeli forces withdrew and then returned to disperse the Palestinian youth.

Al-Badawi was not at all among the clashers, says Hassan, but he was called out because a tree near the house started burning after a grenade or firebomb was thrown at the area. Al-Badawi then came out of the house with a towel in his hand to extinguish the fire, and that's when two shots were fired at him, one hit him in the chest and he fell. According to Hassan, al-Badawi was not involved in the clashes and was shot and killed for no reason.

Another eyewitness told Haaretz that al-Badawi was asked to bring water to put out a fire that had broken out after a fire bomb was thrown near his home. The witness said al-Badawi was hit by live fire when he turned to bring the water, even though he had taken no part in the clashes.