This might be my relative, IDF and settlers killed him.

 ‘OMAYR SHIHADEH. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FAMILY

‘OMAYR SHIHADEH. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FAMILY

At about 5:30 P.M. on 10 March 2018, a group of some twenty to thirty settlers walked over from the settlement of Yitzhar to the Palestinian village of ‘Urif, which lies close to Nablus. They came to the easternmost of the village lands, which are located about one kilometer away from the settlement. Some of the settlers were masked, some carried wood or and metal clubs, and at least two carried guns. Three armed Israeli soldiers escorted the settlers.

In response, ‘Urif residents gradually began coming over from the village, until ultimately approximately one hundred villagers were gathered there. During the clashes that ensued, settlers threw stones at the Palestinians, including with slingshots, and the Palestinians threw stones at the settlers and soldiers. The two parties were a few dozen meters apart. The soldiers threw stun grenades at the Palestinians and fired teargas canisters, rubber-coated metal bullets, and live ammunition.

After about half an hour the settlers left, and most of the villagers then followed suit. The three soldiers remained at the scene, as did a few village youths, but these clashes gradually died down as well. At that point, the soldiers were at a spot a few dozen meters away from the village’s main water reservoir: two of them were lying on the ground, pointing their guns at the youths who were still on the scene, and the third soldier was standing. Some of the youths took cover behind a small hill beside the reservoir, and threw stones at the soldiers from there. Other youths hid behind the reservoir.

In testimony taken by B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 10 March 2018, A.S., a 23-year-old construction worker, described what he saw that day:

One of the soldiers fired a few live bullets at us. We moved back and hid behind the reservoir’s fence. The shooting stopped and two guys went out from behind the fence. I then heard two shots and saw one of the guys, H.S., fall to the ground. He’d been hit in the thigh by a bullet. The guys picked him up and took him by car to a private clinic in the village. The second guy was lying on the ground. At first I thought he was trying to avoid the gunfire, but when I saw that he wasn’t budging I realized that he might be injured. I ran over to him with a few other guys. He was about 30 meters away from us. When we picked him up he was bleeding badly from the chest. We put him in a car that was passing by and went to the clinic in the village. The doctor bandaged his wounds and told us that he had to be transferred to hospital right away because he was in a very serious condition.

H.S. was taken in a private car to hospital in Nablus, where they found that he had been hit in the thigh by a live bullet. He was treated and discharged the next day. ‘Omayr Shhadeh was taken in a private car and then transferred to a Red Crescent ambulance that evacuated him to hospital in Nablus where he was pronounced dead.

B’Tselem’s investigation shows that the three soldiers allowed dozens of settlers to enter ‘Urif village land and then took part with the settlers in the ensuing clashes, offering them protection and firing teargas, rubber-coated metal bullets, and live ammunition at the Palestinians. The investigation also found that one of the soldiers shot and killed ‘Omayr Shhadeh, 19, and injured H.S., 14, even though neither he nor the other soldiers were in mortal danger.

Just like in dozens of other incidents that have occurred – and continue to occur – in the West Bank, soldiers once again protected settlers as they went onto land that belongs to Palestinian residents and threw stones at the Palestinians. In February 2018 alone, B’Tselem documented ten violent assaults by settlers in the region south of the city of Nablus, including several in which soldiers backed up the settlers. All ten assaults were met with silence by the Israeli authorities, who consistently refrain from enforcing the law in the case of settlers who attack Palestinians and soldiers who enable and even participate in such attacks.

The absence of law enforcement is also evident in cases in which soldiers fire at Palestinians, inflicting death or injury. This policy on the part of the military and civilian law enforcement authorities means that settlers and security force personnel are almost never required to pay a price for harming Palestinians. No price to pay means no deterrence, so violent attacks – including the use of lethal force – continue undisturbed. This violence is a key component in Israel’s ability to maintain its violent control over millions of Palestinians for the past 50 plus years.