Youth in coma after being shot in Beit Ommar following week of army invasions

6 March 2009

On the evening of March 4th, Israeli Forces entered the village of Beit Ommar in the southern West Bank, firing live ammunition and critically injuring 17 year-old Mehdi Said Abu Ayyash. At around 9:30pm, soldiers shot Mehdi in the head with live ammunition. He was subsequently taken to a hospital in Hebron, where he remains in a coma attached to a ventilator, with pieces of the bullet still lodged in his head. That same evening, Israeli Forces also arrested two 17 year-old residents of Beit Ommar; Ahmed Mahmoud Abdel Aziz Awad, and Mountasir Ibrahim Bregeith.

This recent military raid follows more than a week of almost nightly invasions. Israeli soldiers routinely enter the village at around 7pm, firing live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas and flares. Usually two jeeps of soldiers drive through the streets into the center of town, forcing residents of Beit Ommar to stay inside their homes. The soldiers often get out of the jeeps to fire at groups of youth who clash with the invading military. Israeli Forces have been seen taunting the youth, deliberately trying to provoke confrontations. On several occasions, the army has also entered several homes, checking all of the rooms and the identity cards of male family members. The army usually withdraws from the village by 10pm, though they have also maintained a presence on the streets until the early hours of the morning.

Additionally, Israeli Forces have also been occupying the Mesayef family home for the past several nights. The house is situated near the entrance to Beit Ommar along Route 60, the main road between the cities Bethlehem and Hebron. Between six and ten soldiers have entered the residence around 8pm on at least five nights last week alone. The soldiers often stay until midnight, disrupting family members who must work and go to school the next day. The family, which includes small children, are all forced into one room while the soldiers occupied the others. Palestinian, Israeli, and International activists, including volunteers with the Palestine Solidarity Project, have entered the house to sit in solidarity with the family. On the night of March 2rd, an Israeli activist was badly beaten by the soldiers after he climbed through a window to get inside the house. The following night, two International activists, one Danish and one American, were arrested for being inside the house, which was declared a “military closed zone.” The Internationals were taken to Qiryat Arba settlement where they were questioned and released after signing conditions that they would not be in the southern West Bank for ten days. The Israeli online news agency YNET has published an article on the occupations of the Mesayef family residence, which can be viewed below:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3681433,00.html