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From the field

Suspicion that soldiers shot Faiz Faraj to death in Hebron as he lay wounded, endangering nobody

Update: On 6 April 2011 the MAG Corps informed B’Tselem that it had decided not to investigate the incident. On 1 May 2011 B’Tselem appealed this decision. The appeal was rejected on 12 June 2011.

Faiz Faraj. Family PhotoOn Friday, 12 February 2010, at around 4:00 P.M., soldiers shot Faiz Ahmad Sa'id Faraj, a 41-year-old resident of Hebron, wounding him seriously. He died about an hour later from his wounds. The incident took place in the a-Sheikh neighborhood in Hebron. Faraj, who owned a shoe factory and had a permit to enter Israel for business matters, was married and had nine children.

According to announcements by army officials that were published in the media, an IDF force opened fire at Faraj, who had tried to stab one of the soldiers. He was severely wounded and he died from his wounds on the way to receiving treatment at a hospital in Israel.

B'Tselem's investigation revealed a different picture. Eyewitnesses related that a force of about six soldiers had come from the a-Sheikh neighborhood and were heading toward New a-Shalaleh Street.  The soldiers and Faraj got into a physical altercation at a road leading up from a-Shalaleh Street. The witnesses stated that he stumbled and then began to walk away, and that the soldiers called to him to stop. When he didn't, the soldiers fired several shots into the air and then shot him in the legs, from approximately ten meters away. He was struck in the right leg and fell to the ground. When Faraj got up and tried to move further away from the soldiers, they fired again, striking him, and he fell again. While lying on the ground, Faraj moved his hands, and then the soldiers shot him a third time. In all three shootings, the soldiers stayed in the same spot and did not approach him. They fired a total of about ten shots. Faraj was hit by bullets in the right thigh, in the stomach, and in the left hand. According to information B'Tselem received, when the gunfire stopped, Faraj lay on the ground for a number of minutes without moving and was bleeding profusely in the right leg. None of the soldiers made any effort to provide him first-aid.

Several minutes later, a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance arrived at the scene, and the Red Crescent paramedics gave Faraj first-aid. They managed to slow the bleeding and then put him in the ambulance to take him to the nearby governmental ‘Aliyah Hospital. At that point, an army vehicle pulled up, and an officer got out and ordered the ambulance, which had already begun to move, to stop. The soldiers aimed their weapons at the ambulance and prevented it from moving any further. When the ambulance stopped, the soldiers removed Faraj, put him into the army vehicle and drove south on a-Shalaleh Street. Half an hour later, around 5:00 P.M., the vehicle was seen at Gross Square, in Hebron, next to a Magen David Adom [Israeli] ambulance. Around 5:45 P.M., Faraj's body was moved from the Magen David Adom ambulance to a Red Crescent ambulance in the area of Ras al-Jura, north of Hebron.

The circumstances of the incident, as they appear from B'Tselem's investigation, contradict the announcements issued by the army. First, although B'Tselem's information regarding the events preceding Faraj's walking away from the soldiers is incomplete, it is not clear what danger he them at the time he was shot, after he had moved away from them. Second, even assuming that he posed some danger to the soldiers, the initial gunfire, in which he was struck in the leg and fell to the ground, was sufficient to eliminate the danger. Once wounded, he no longer posed a danger to the soldiers, and they could easily have prevented him from getting away.

In addition, B'Tselem's information indicates that the soldiers delayed medical treatment that may have saved Faraj's life. First, they did not give him any first-aid, and second, the officer who arrived at the scene prevented Faraj's evacuation by ambulance to ‘Aliyah Hospital, only a short distance away, an evacuation that could possibly have saved his life. The officer's order to transfer Faraj to the floor of an army vehicle, in which he could not receive adequate treatment, was unreasonable. Even if the objective was to take him to a hospital in Israel, the added complication of evacuating him in an army vehicle and transferring him to a Magen David Adom ambulance resulted in significant delay in time that might have been critical in saving his life.
Given the findings of the investigation, B'Tselem wrote to the Judge Advocate for Operational Affairs, demanding a Military Police investigation into the shooting of Faiz Faraj and the delay in medical treatment.