AN Israeli court dropped charges on Wednesday against two Israeli security guards who shot and killed two Palestinian siblings at a checkpoint in April, ruling that there was not sufficient evidence that they had acted improperly.
A private security contractor shot and killed Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, 23, and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim Salih Hassan Taha on April 27 at the Qalandiya checkpoint between the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, after Israeli forces said Abu Ismail, who was five months pregnant, threw a knife in the direction of Israeli forces while she was some 20 meters away from them.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the prosecutors in the case said that Abu Ismail threw a knife at Israeli forces but missed, while her brother tried to pull her away.
The prosecution further claimed that Taha had one hand in his pocket while approaching the checkpoint, arousing ‘reasonable suspicion’ that he was attempting to commit an attack. Israeli forces also allegedly found a knife on Taha’s body after he was killed, although at no point prior to being shot did he attempt to use it.
However, witnesses said at the time that the two siblings posed no threat when they were killed, as they mistakenly entered the wrong part of the checkpoint and did not understand Israeli soldiers speaking to them in Hebrew. One witness further said that Israeli forces planted knives on the scene.
Israeli news outlet Ynet quoted the Israeli state’s attorney’s office as saying that the guards’ actions represented a ‘clear-cut’ case of ‘self-defence’, while the Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli Ministry of Justice exonerated one of the guards on the grounds that the charges against them were ‘baseless’, and ruled that there was a lack of evidence to contradict the other guard’s claim that he had felt threatened.
Meanwhile, the Times of Israel reported that Israeli police has refused to release security camera footage of the case, despite demands by the Abu Ismail family and several Israeli media outlets. Abu Ismail and Taha are two of 235 Palestinians to have been killed by Israelis since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015. Dozens of Palestinians have been shot at military checkpoints during this time, included at least five at the Qalandiya checkpoint.
Some 34 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in the same time period. Israel’s excessive use of force against Palestinians has brought allegations from local and international NGOs, senior UN officials and foreign leaders, and prominent US congressmen that Israeli forces regularly carry out unlawful killings.
Rights groups have disputed Israel’s version of events in a number of cases when Palestinians were killed, denouncing what they have termed as a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner – amid a backdrop of impunity for Israeli forces who have committed the killings.
l Israeli forces detained at least 17 Palestinians, including two young children, during overnight raids across the occupied Palestinian territory, also raiding the home of a sick prisoner and threatening his family, locals said. Bethlehem and Hebron districts
Israeli forces detained two 8-year-old children near the illegal Israeli settlement of Migdal Oz in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Wednesday evening, claiming that they were trying to carry out a stabbing attack.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that two Palestinian children under the age of ten were detained near Migdal Oz, and that knives were found in their possession. She added that the two children, who were reportedly from the village of Beit Fajjar, said during interrogations that they had been sent by someone to carry out a stabbing attack.
She did not have further information on whether the children were still detained as of Thursday evening, nor whether their parents had been contacted. Meanwhile, local sources said that Israeli forces detained Sharaf Yaseen Abu Salem from the Aida refugee camp adjacent to the city of Bethlehem.
The army spokesperson told Ma’an that one person had been detained in Bethlehem, likely referring to Abu Salem. In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, locals told Ma’an that Ayman Taha was detained in Hebron city, while Rami Muhammad Jaber al-Rujoub was detained in the village of Dura.
East Jerusalem, Ramallah and Jerusalem districts
In occupied East Jerusalem, locals reported that Israeli forces detained Diyaa Obeid from the neighbourhood of al-Issawiya. Meanwhile, Yassir Allan was reportedly detained in Shufat in the Jerusalem district of the West Bank. In the central West Bank district of Ramallah, the army spokesperson said that one Palestinian was detained in the village of Kharbatha al-Misbah.
Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the town of Azzun in the north western West Bank district of Qalqiliya, searching several houses and detaining five Palestinians, identified as Mahmoud Radwan, Omar Radwan, Mirsal Radwan, Tamer Radwan, and Muath Sweidan. Locals added that Israeli soldiers stole money while searching the houses, and that clashes broke out between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces, without causing injuries.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed two detentions in Azzun to Ma’an.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said that Israeli forces violently raided the homes of former prisoners in the Qalqiliya district, identifying them as Mhanna Abu Haniyeh, Ahmad Abu Haniyyeh, and Ramadan Abu Haniyyeh.
Israeli forces violently raided homes in the Qalqiliya district. Israeli forces also raided the home of sick prisoner Mutawwakil Radwan overnight, and threatened his access to medical care if his relatives kept advocating for his release. Radwan, who is serving a 22-year-sentence, is currently at the al-Ramla Hospital in a fragile health condition as he suffers from cancerous tumours and heart disease.
Several events have been carried out in solidarity with Radwan in Qalqiliya recently demanding his release. An Israeli intelligence officer informed Radwan’s relatives that the prisoner was being treated at one of the best Israeli hospitals, and warned them against any increase in popular support for Radwan. Israeli forces violently raided homes in the Qalqiliya district.
Salfit, Nablus and Jenin districts
In the northern West Bank, locals reported that Israeli forces detained Anwar al-Sakhil in the city of Nablus, as well as Shadi Talal Zakarna in the Jenin-district village of Qabatiya. The army spokesperson confirmed one detention in Qabatiya, but said that two Palestinians, one of whom was an alleged Hamas operative, were detained in Nablus.
She added that another Palestinian was detained in the Salfit-district village of Bani Hassan. Israeli forces carry out detention raids in Palestinian communities on a near-nightly basis, with the UN documenting 178 such raids from October 4th to October 17th. According to prisoners rights group, Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of August.