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Israeli soldiers fatally shoot Fahmeyeh al-Hrub (60), although she posed no danger

Fahmeyeh al-Hrub. PHOTO COURTESY OF FAMILY

On Sunday, 2 May 2021, at around 8:30 A.M., Fahmeyeh (Rihab) al-Hrub (60), a resident of the village of Husan, west of Bethlehem, arrived at a bus stop at the Gush Etzion junction. In video footage published by the media, al-Hrub is seen standing several meters away from two soldiers, holding a knife and walking towards them very slowly, step by step. One of the soldiers calls on her several times to drop the knife and then fires a single shot in the air. al-Hrub continues holding the knife and moving slowly towards the soldiers, who are walking backward. Meanwhile, two more soldiers join them, who also call out to al-Hrub to stop and drop the knife as they aim their weapons at her. All the while, a distance of several meters was maintained between al-Hrub and the soldiers. Finally, two shots are heard, and al-Hrub falls to the sidewalk.

Additional video footage posted on social media shows the wounded al-Hrub lying on the ground, with soldiers and paramedics standing at a considerable distance from her. Al-Hrub was later evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Contrary to the military’s statement that al-Hrub was shot in the lower body only, as part of the suspect apprehension procedure, medical documents show she was shot in the abdomen and legs. Al-Hrub succumbed to her wounds later that day. Israel is still holding her body. 

The footage of the incident proves that al-Hrub, who lost her job several months ago and was reportedly grappling with mental health issues, posed no risk to the forces’ lives at any stage. The soldiers’ conduct is a true reflection of the open-fire policy employed by Israeli security forces when they are targeted or allegedly targeted in attempted stabbings by Palestinians. This policy, backed by senior government and military officials, allows for the use of lethal fire against any Palestinian holding a knife, regardless of the degree of danger posed. 

Other Palestinians have been shot and killed under similar circumstances in recent years. According to B’Tselem’s information, as in the vast majority of cases in which security forces harmed Palestinians, none of those responsible have faced charges. Below is a partial list:

Sarah Hajuj (27), fatally shot by Border Police officers at a checkpoint in Hebron on 1 July 2016, after she apparently pulled out a knife in the side room where the Border Police were holding her. The officers pepper-sprayed her in the face and fled the room, leaving Hajuj alone, and then one of them shot her from outside the room. 
 
Rahiq Yusef (19), fatally shot by Border Police officers at the Za’atra (Tapuah) junction on 19 October 2016, after, according to the police, she pulled out a knife. The officers fired about 30 bullets at Yusef as she lay wounded on the ground. 
 
Siham Nimer (49), fatally shot by Border Police officers at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on 29 March 2020 after brandishing a pair of scissors while standing behind a police barrier that separated her from the officers. It is doubtful whether she could have crossed the barrier. 
 
Fatimah Hjeiji (16), fatally shot by Israel Police and Border Police officers at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on 7 May 2017, after brandishing a knife at the officers standing several meters from her on the other side of a police barrier. The officers fired at least 10 bullets at her. 
 
Nayfeh Ka’abneh (50), wounded by security guards’ gunfire at Qalandiya Checkpoint on 18 September 2019 after advancing towards them while holding a knife. She was shot from a distance of about 10 meters and left without medical care for about half an hour. Ka’abneh died of her wounds a short while later.  
 
Ra’d al-Bahri (25), fatally shot by security guards at the Tulkarm/al-Kafriyat Checkpoint (Te’enim Checkpoint) on 18 October 2019, after, according to the Ministry of Defense, he was carrying a knife. al-Bahri was first shot in the leg, fell to the ground, then shot again between 8 to 10 times as he tried to get up.