Less than two weeks after Israeli Shin Bet security agents shot dead a Palestinian with whose car their jeep had collided and who, after that, supposedly attacked them with an axe, a female soldier shot dead a teenager in Hebron under even less credible circumstances. Muhammad Ziad al-Salaymah was killed on his 17th birthday, when passing a checkpoint in order to get his birthday cake from a local bakery. Israeli newspapers reported that he wielded something that looked like a gun. A 19-year old female border guard (Nofal Mizrahi, her name was later placed under a gag order) then opened fire on him and killed him on the spot.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that the gun afterwards turned out to be a plastic toy, but that did not stop the Israeli minister of Internal Security Aharonovitch from praising the police woman's determination and courage. The police woman herself said that it did not make any difference for her that it turned out to be a toy gun. 'Fake gun or not, I did the right thing.
In the meantime it turns out that Muhammad al-Salaymah was a popular boy at school with the larger Hebron community. He was a wrestling champion who represented Palestine in international wrestling tournaments and had won gold and silver medals. Also he studied with the Palestinian Circus School for nearly two years, learning to perform juggling, acrobatics and the human pyramid, the school's manager Shadi Zmorrod told Ma'an.
Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Ma'an on Thursday that he had nothing to add to initial findings immediately after the shooting that Muhammad pointed a fake gun at forces at a checkpoint in the southern West Bank city. However the Palestinian human rights society Al Haq carried out a preliminary investigation that shed a different light on what really happened. I reproduce it below in its entirety, as the killing of Muhammad was really one of a series of similar events in which Palestinians are killed with impunity. Shooting instructions are extremely loose and incidents like this one make abundantly clear that Israeli border police and the military don't have the slightest clue about the Palestinian society, fear all Palestinians and see in every single person nothing but potentially murderous terrorists. It is high time that something is done about it.
Al-Haq is currently investigating the case of Muhammad Ziad al-Salayma, who was killed yesterday evening (Wednesday, AbuP,)on his seventeenth birthday, in the old city of Hebron. The circumstances of his death are currently unclear. However, according to Al Haq’s preliminary investigations, Muhammad left his home yesterday evening at approximately 6:30 pm in order to buy a cake and passed by Checkpoint 160, which is some 100 meters from his house. When he passed the checkpoint, Muhammad was reportedly holding a lighter that resembled a gun, which aroused the suspicion of the Israeli soldiers manning the checkpoint and caused them to have an exchange of words with Muhammad. Following a discussion with the soldiers, Muhammad was shot twice, once in the abdomen and once in the chest, at a short range. Muhammad died around 7:30 pm as a result of the shooting. Shortly afterwards, an Israeli military ambulance arrived at Checkpoint 160 and took the youth to another checkpoint, before transferring his body to a Red Crescent ambulance at 9:40 pm. His body was then taken to Hebron governorate hospital where doctors confirmed Muhammad’s death and that he had been hit by two bullets.
Shortly after the shooting, Muhammad’s parents were informed of their son’s condition. They arrived at the scene of the incident and attempted to enter the Israeli Military ambulance in order to see their son. The Israeli soldiers pushed them away and hit Muhammad’s father, Ziad ‘Awad al-Salayma, on his leg. As a result of his injuries, Ziad was taken to the Hebron governorate hospital for medical treatment to be discharged a few hours later. After midnight, the Israeli military raided the family home and arrested one of Muhammad’s older brothers and one of his cousins.(Ma'an)
Muhammad’s body was returned to his parents by Hebron governorate hospital today. Al-Haq strongly condemns the willful killing of Muhammad at the hands of an Israeli soldier. Unfortunately this is not an isolated case; the killings of Palestinian civilians, including children like Muhammad, are the result of the prevailing climate of impunity granted to Israeli soldiers, who are hardly ever held responsible for the violations committed against the Palestinian occupied population. Since 2000, Israel’s rules of engagement have promoted the arbitrary deprivation of life effectively allowing soldiers to open fire on Palestinian civilians even where, like in yesterday’s case, their life is not threatened.
Al-Haq also calls for immediate, transparent and impartial investigations to clarify the circumstances that lead to Muhammad’s death, with a view to prosecuting the Israeli soldiers responsible for the killing. Additionally, Israel must provide for full reparation to the family of the victim.