Israeli Forces Shoot Palestinian Dead at Beit Ommar Funeral For Former Political Prisoner

10 April 2015

From Ma’an News Agency:

HEBRON (Ma’an) — A Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces on Friday at the funeral for his cousin in the town of Beit Ummar near Hebron.

Ziyad Omar Musleh Awad, 27, was killed by Israeli forces and thirteen others injured when soldiers opened fire on mourners at the funeral of Jaafar Awad, 22, who died at 2:45 a.m. Friday morning from health complications that rapidly deteriorated while being held in Israeli prison.

Medical sources told Ma’an that Jaafar had succumbed to the illness at the al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron.

Three Palestinians were injured with live fire while 10 others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets. Dozens of other funeral attendees suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation.

Awad’s funeral was held after Friday prayers, and was followed by tense clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces. Soldiers are permanently stationed at a checkpoint to the town, which is located near the main Bethlehem-Hebron road.

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An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma’an that a “violent riot” had broken out in Beit Ummar in which locals “hurled rocks and molotov cocktails” and “rolled burning tires” at Israeli soldiers.

“Feeling an immediate threat, soldiers used riot dispersal means” against the crowd, but “the rioters refused to halt.”

As a result, soldiers “fired at instigators at their lower extremities with .22 caliber bullets.” She said that four “hits” were confirmed.

Beit Ummar has been severely targeted by Israeli forces as a result of its location, and as of late March, more than 60 Palestinians had been detained in Beit Ummar by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2015, nearly half of whom were minors.

Jaafar Awad spent 14 months in Israel’s Eshel Prison in Beersheba, but was released on Jan. 21, 2015 in critical condition after he fell ill in custody.

Palestine News Network quoted Prisoner Committee head Issa Qaraqe as saying that Awad’s health complications started when he was administered incorrect insulin shots in Eshel Prison, causing him neck inflation, inability to speak, pain in the head, trembling in the body and an impaired vision.

Awad suffered from severe pneumonia, heart problems, and thyroid and pancreas complications by the time he was released. Israeli authorities had agreed to release Awad only after the director of the Prisoners’ Society’s legal department submitted an appeal. He was released with a fine of 40,000 shekels ($10,200).

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‘Slow-killing policy’

Earlier Friday, the father of Jaafar Awad told Ma’an that he held Israel responsible for his son’s death, calling upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials to present Jaafar’s death to the International Criminal Court.

Director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society in Hebron, Amjad al-Najjar, said that the number of prisoners “killed by Israel” had now hit 209.

Al-Najjar pointed out that Awad “is not and will not be the last one killed” by the policies of “medical neglect” carried out by the Israeli authorities against prisoners.

Earlier Friday, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they held Israel responsible for the death of Jaafar Awad.

Hamas spokesperson Hussam Badran said in a statement that Awad had suffered from medical negligence while being held in Israeli jails, and warned Israel from continuing such policies against Palestinian prisoners.

He called upon legal and medical international institutions to intervene and end what he termed the “slow-killing policy” by Israel.

The Islamic Jihad movement presented condolences for the death of Jaafar Awad as well, and demanded legal action against the Israeli prison service for what “crimes” against the Palestinian people.

Israeli prisons have come under international criticism for both medical negligence to ill patients and illegal treatment of prisoners, including torture, isolation, and denial of family visits. 

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