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From the field

January 2018: Soldiers kill 5 Palestinians – 3 with shots to the head – without justification

  • On 3 January 2018, soldiers shot Mus’ab a-Sufi (16) in the neck and killed him in the village of Deir Nizam, northwest of Ramallah. The next day, 4 January, during a-Sufi’s funeral, soldiers shot Muhammad ‘Awad (19) from the village of ‘Abud in the head, wounding him severely.
  • On 11 January, soldiers shot ‘Ali Qinu (17) in the head and killed him near the village of ‘Iraq Burin, south of Nablus.
  • On 11 January, soldiers shot Amir Abu Masa’ed (15) in the armpit and killed him, at a demonstration near the perimeter fence in the area of Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip.
  • On 15 January, soldiers shot Ahmad Salim (28) in the head and killed him near the village of Jayus, east of Qalqilya.
  • On 30 January, soldier shot Layth Abu Na’im (16) in the head and killed him in the village of al-Mughayir, northeast of Ramallah.

B’Tselem’s investigation found that the six Palestinians were shot in the upper body during clashes and demonstrations that included stone-throwing, although they were not endangering the lives of the soldiers or of anyone else. According to the Israeli military’s open-fire regulations, shooting to kill is permitted only when the lives of security forces or other persons are in danger. Even then, it is allowed only when there are no other means of averting the danger. These incidents did not meet these conditions in any way.

This conduct renders the open-fire regulations, which are supposed to limit the use of lethal firepower, void of meaning and conveys Israel’s deep disregard for the lives of Palestinians. Israel’s defense apparatus, including the military law enforcement system, chooses as a rule to back up the shooters or cover up the incident in such cases. The fact that the enforcement agencies effectively allow soldiers to blatantly disregard the open-fire regulations with no accountability allows the continued use of lethal force – a crucial facet in Israel’s ability to maintain its violent control over millions of Palestinians.

3-4 January: The killing of Mus’ab a-Sufi (16) from Deir Nizam and the wounding of Muhammad ‘Awad (19)9

Mus’ab a-Sufi. Photo courtesy of the family
Mus’ab a-Sufi

After US President Trump’s “Jerusalem statement” on 6 December 2017, the Palestinian village of Deir Nizam, northwest of Ramallah, was the scene of nearly daily clashes between village youths and Israeli security forces. On 3 January, at approximately 10:00 A.M., several children threw stones at Road 465 which runs north of the village. Soldiers arrived and fired tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at them. The children fled to some orchards located south of the road. At around 1:00 P.M., four soldiers positioned themselves by a fig tree located near one of the village homes, about 250 meters away from the road and 60 meters away from a group of ten to twenty children and teenagers. The children and teenagers, who were standing on the road and inside a nearby olive grove, threw stones at the soldiers, and the latter fired live rounds at them. A military drone was flying overhead.

In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 4 January, N.S. (17) described what happened:

At around 1:00 P.M., I heard cries of warning from Umm Khaldun’s balcony: “Watch out, the soldier is aiming at you”. Every time I saw a soldier aiming his weapon at us, we hid behind a wall, or a tree or a rock. At that point, Mus’ab was sitting by the side of the road to my right. He said to me: “I want to move forward, cover me”. I don’t know if he meant to throw a stone or just hide somewhere else. He got up and moved forward a few meters. He wasn’t holding anything at the time, not even stones. One of the soldiers, I can’t remember which one, pointed his weapon at Mus’ab. His brother and I both warned him: “Hide, hide, he’s aiming at you”, but he didn’t listen. Mus’ab kept going forward, and then one of the soldiers fired a live round at him and hit his neck. Mus’ab fell to the ground and started groaning. I went up to him and saw he was bleeding heavily from the left side of the neck. I was scared. My legs started shaking. I was so scared I didn’t dare stay with him, so I took off and started calling out to the villagers: “Someone’s been hit. Someone’s been hit”. A few children went up to him and his father, who heard he’d been hit, came and drove him in a car to the hospital in Ramallah.

A-Sufi reached the hospital at 1:30 P.M. without a pulse. After an hour of attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead.

Mus’ab’s father, Firas a-Sufi, said of his son:

When we lived in Jordan, he headed the choir and the council of state schools in Jordan. When we moved back to the village, he took it upon himself to run the village school’s radio station. I had high hopes for him. The shooting by the occupation soldiers severed his hopes and dreams. He was snatched away from us, leaving his mother, his siblings and myself completely shattered. 

The next day, 4 January, during a-Sufi’s funeral, clashes erupted again near Road 465. At around 1:30 P.M., soldiers shot Muhammad ‘Awad, a 19-year-old resident of ‘Abud, in the head from a distance of about twenty meters. He was evacuated to al-Istishari Hospital in Ramallah, where he was diagnosed with a fractured cranium and metal shrapnel lodged in his head. He underwent head surgery and is still in hospital. 

The killing of ‘Ali Qinu (17) from ‘Iraq Burin:

'Ali Qinu.  Photo courtesy of the family
'Ali Qinu. 

On the morning of 11 January, as part of a series of travel restrictions imposed by the military in its search for the suspect in the killing of Israeli citizen Rabbi Raziel Shevach two days earlier, soldiers set up a checkpoint on the road linking the village of ‘Iraq Burin to the city of Nablus and the village of Tell. Clashes developed, during which Palestinian youths threw stones at soldiers and soldiers fired tear-gas canisters and threw stun grenades at them. The clashes continued until about 5:00 P.M. At around 4:30 P.M., two military jeeps drove from the direction of Burin toward ‘Iraq Burin, and some youths from ‘Iraq Burin, who had climbed a nearby hill, threw stones at them from a distance of about thirty meters. The first jeep continued driving toward the village, while the second one stopped about thirty meters away from the youths. 

In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb'i on 21 January, ‘A.Q. (20) recounted what happened next:

A soldier who was sitting in the jeep fired two or three shots in our direction. Then he fired more than 20 consecutive shots. We all ran away from the fire, and then the jeep started driving towards the village again. After the jeeps got farther away, we checked that everyone was okay. We didn’t see ‘Ali. We called out to him and looked for him. We went back to where we had been before and found him lying face down. His head was split open and he was bleeding. Another guy and I turned him over. His face was pale and there was no sign of life. He wasn’t breathing. I put my hand on his neck and there was no pulse.

One of the young men went down to the road and stopped a car that was passing by. Some of the youths lifted the injured Qinu and got him into the car, which evacuated him to a hospital in Nablus, where he was pronounced dead. 

In a testimony she gave to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb'i on 25 January, ‘Ali’s mother, Raedah Qinu, said of her son:

When I saw ‘Ali in the refrigerator, I lost it. I couldn’t believe it was my little boy, ‘Ali, so young and spoiled. I always thought he was the most beautiful of all my sons. Every day I feel like he’s been killed all over again, and every moment feels like I’m saying goodbye to him, over and over. The soldier who killed him also killed me, and everyone else who loved him. 

11 January: The killing of Amir Abu Masa’ed (15) from Deir al-Balah, Gaza:

On 11 January, a demonstration was held near the perimeter fence between Gaza and Israel, east of al-Bureij Refugee Camp. Palestinian youths threw stones at soldiers who were on the other side of the fence. Amir Abu Masa’ed was shot in the armpit and killed by soldiers when he was about 50 to 70 meters from the fence. 

In a testimony given to B’Tselem field researcher Khaled al-‘Azayzeh on 15 January, A.N. (17), a resident of al-Bureij R.C., related:

At around 16:20 P.M., I went up with some other youths to the highest spot in the area, to see the soldiers. About five minutes later, most of the youths went back down because they were scared. I stayed up there with a guy I didn’t know. Suddenly, we were fired at. I was hit in the left thigh by a bullet. I felt my leg go weak and fell over. I saw blood coming out of the wound. I saw a few guys picking up the other guy, who was also wounded, about four meters away from me. Later I learned that his name was Amir Abu Masa’ed. 

Abu Masa’ed was taken, already lifeless, to hospital in Deir al-Balah.

15 January: The killing of Ahmad Salim (28) from Jayus

Ahmad Slim.  Photo courtesy of the family
Ahmas Slim.

On 15 January, at around 1:00 P.M., about ten Palestinian youths from the village of Jayus, east of Qalqiliyah, spread out along the Separation Barrier and threw stones at two Israeli security jeeps that were driving on the road that runs along the barrier, near the village. Soldiers and Border Police officers fired tear gas and live fire at the youths from inside the jeeps. At around 4:00 P.M., one of the jeeps left the area and another arrived, and four masked soldiers got out. About half an hour later, Ahmad Salim advanced to the northern part of the hill he was standing on with A.N. (20).

In a testimony given on 22 January to B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, A.N. said:

We threw stones at the masked soldiers and they started advancing along the road. Ahmad went towards them on the hill, above the route of the barrier. I stayed where I was, about twenty to thirty meters away from him. I saw Ahmad bend down and pick up a small stone to throw at the soldiers, and then one of them aimed his gun at Ahmad. I saw the soldier open fire at him and heard three shots. One of them must have hit him. He fell to the ground, on his left side. I crawled over to him. He smiled at me and asked me to pick him up. I couldn’t do it, because the soldiers were still there and I was afraid they’d shoot me. I dragged him about ten meters away, to get him out of the soldiers’ line of vision.

Two village residents who had heard the shots came running. One of them picked Salim up and took him to an ambulance that residents had called, which was waiting about 400 meters away. Salim was taken to a hospital in Qalqiliyah, where he was pronounced dead after attempted resuscitation. 

In a testimony given on 25 January to B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, Ahmad’s sister, Rawan Salim, said of her brother:

Ahmad and I were very close. When we were little, our mother used to call us Tom and Jerry. A year ago, he opened a restaurant on the ground floor of our house. After work, he would always bring food for me and for the kids. He wanted to get married and I was helping him look for a partner. Ahmad had a generous heart and a lot of patience. When he was killed, everyone in the village came to the funeral. 

 Layth Abu Na’im. Photo courtesy of the family
Layth Abu Na’im

30 January: The killing of Layth Abu Na’im  (16) from al-Mughayir

On 30 January, at about 3:00 P.M., a group of Palestinian youths from the village of al-Mughayir set out to throw stones towards the Alon Road. Military jeeps arrived on the scene, from which soldiers threw stun grenades and fired tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at the youths. At about 4:00 P.M., the youths fled back into the village and two military jeeps pursued them. All the youths dispersed in the village except for Layth Abu Na’im (16), who hid between pillars circling a yard at the center of the village. The military jeeps stopped close by. 

In testimony he gave on 31 January to B'Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, ‘A.M. (69), a married father of six who owns a nearby store, described what happened next:

The youth – I didn’t know his name – tried to hide or throw a stone, but I couldn’t see any stone thrown. A jeep was parked about 20 meters away. I heard a shot and saw the youth fall straight to the ground and stop moving. A soldier immediately got out of the jeep, and then several other soldiers got out to see what was going on in the area. They looked all around and at the roofs, their guns ready. The soldier who got out first came over to me together with another soldier, pointed his weapon at me and ordered me to go inside the store. They went up to the youth who had been shot, looked at him closely and then left him there. They hurried back to the jeep and left.

After the soldiers left the scene without providing Abu Nai’m any medical assistance, youths from the village put him in a car and he was taken to a medical center in the nearby village of Turmusaya. Abu Na’im was treated for a few minutes at the center and then transferred to hospital in Ramallah. He was clinically dead on arrival at the hospital. The hospital physicians pronounced him dead and stated that he had been killed by a rubber-coated metal bullet that had penetrated his skull through his face. Firing such a bullet at the upper torso from about 20 meters away is contrary to the open-fire regulations – precisely because lethal consequences are so likely, as occurred in this case.

In a testimony he gave on 5 Feb. to B'Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Fathi Abu Na’im, Grandfather of Layth, who had raised him since he was two years old, said of his grandchild:

He loved soccer and played as the goalkeeper on the school team and at the village club. He won lots of trophies and medals and dreamt of becoming a professional soccer player and being famous. A soldier killed my grandson for no reason, in cold blood. My heart aches and I feel a terrible sense of loss. It’s a hard feeling that words can’t describe.