AN ISRAELI settler shot and killed a 23-year-old Palestinian and injured another near the village of Huwwara in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Thursday
He stepped out of his car and opened fire with live ammunition on Palestinians after clashes broke out with Israeli forces during a march held in solidarity with hunger strikers.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that Mutaz Hussien Hilal Bani Shamsa, 23, from the Nablus-area village of Beita succumbed to his wounds shortly after sustaining bullet wounds when witnesses said an Israeli settler opened fire with live ammunition on him after a solidarity march in the village that erupted into clashes with Israeli forces.
The march was held on the main street near the village, which is shared by Palestinians and Israeli settlers, residing in the West Bank illegally according to international law. Israeli forces were deployed in the area during the demonstration and suppressed the march, causing clashes to break out with Palestinian protesters.
Palestinian journalist Majdi Eshtayya was also injured with live bullets shot by the settler, witnesses said, and was transferred to Rafidia hospital where medical sources described his injuries as medium. Israeli authorities also implemented a closure on the Huwwara checkpoint on the same road, according to witnesses.
An Israeli army spokesperson said that ‘a violent riot broke out’ in Huwwara and that ‘hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks at passing vehicles.’ She added that Israeli forces responded with ‘riot dispersal means.’
The spokesperson added that the army was aware of one Palestinian casualty and one who was injured. She noted that the army had not been involved in the shooting of Shamsa and Eshtayya, and that ‘it may possibly be from the Israeli, but the incident is under review.’
However she said she was unable to comment on whether the Israeli settler has been detained or reprimanded. In March, Israeli NGO Yesh Din revealed that Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 per cent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years.
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with announcements of settlement expansion earlier this year sparking condemnation from the international community.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2016. Shamsa was the 23rd Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces and settlers since the start of 2017. Seven Israelis were killed by Palestinians during the same time frame.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian was injured with a live bullet, while tens of others suffered from tear gas inhalation after clashes erupted with Israeli forces near the entrance of Qalandiya refugee camp in Ramallah when Israeli forces suppressed a peaceful march on Wednesday night in support of the mass hunger strike among Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Local people said that the march was launched from a hunger strike solidarity tent at the entrance of Qalandiya camp, and subsequently erupted into clashes with Israeli forces, who shot live bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators, and Palestinian youths who threw rocks and empty bottles at the soldiers.
Another sit-in was organised in solidarity with the hunger strikers in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem and was also suppressed by Israeli forces, who reportedly assaulted protesters and detained three.
Head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) in Jerusalem Nasser Qaws said that Israeli forces detained three activists during the demonstration, whom he identified as Ahmad al-Safadi, head of Elia for Media Group, Muhammad al-Daqaq, and Kayed al-Daqaq, while Arin Zaanin was injured after being ‘assaulted violently’ by Israeli forces and was transferred in an ambulance to a nearby hospital.
Qaws said that Israeli forces try to ‘suppress solidarity’ with the hunger-striking prisoners by ‘attacking protesters, including pushing elderly Palestinians.’ Head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners Amjad Abu Assab said that Israeli forces arrived in the area and stationed themselves at the gates of the ICRC building, and proceeded to film the event and take pictures.
Abu Assab added that Israeli forces in a ‘sudden manner’ began ‘attacking protesters’ and ‘pushing them out of the Red Cross yard.’ Families of prisoners expressed concern during the demonstration over the deteriorating health conditions of the hunger strikers, as the sister of Jerusalemite hunger-striking prisoner John Qaqish, sentenced to nine years in Israeli prison over an alleged stabbing attack, said that his family had not received any information about Qaqish and that they were living in ‘fear and concern.’
The mother of imprisoned Palestinians Hamza and Islam al-Najjar from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of al-Tur said that her sons had launched their hunger strikes 30 days ago, but after several days Hamza ended his strike owing to his health condition, while Islam was recently transferred to a hospital and has continued his hunger strike.
She added that her son Hamza suffers from psoriasis – an auto-immune disease that affects the skin – and that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) does not provide him with medicine and refuses to permit his family to bring medicine to him in the prison. ‘We have offered to cover all of the costs of his treatment, but in vain. I can’t rest; I am always thinking about my sons,’ she said.
Meanwhile, the mother of Jerusalemite prisoner Nasser Abu Khdier said that her son was transferred to Ohli Kidar prison since the start of the strike and is now in critical health, as he has lost 22 kilos of his weight and has been transferred to a controversial prison field hospital.
Since the hunger strike began, Israeli authorities have established field hospitals for Palestinian prisoners, Israel’s public security minister has confirmed. The move has raised alarm that hunger strikers, who have faced severe health deteriorations in recent days, will be force fed en masse – violating international standards of medical ethics and international law that regard the practice as inhumane or even a form of torture.
Abu Khdier’s mother said that a court session was held for her son on April 27 on the tenth day of the hunger strike, when she said he already seemed exhausted and had lost some eight kilos of weight. She added that she participates in every event organised in solidarity with the prisoners, saying that ‘all prisoners are our sons.’
She also demanded that the ICRC provide more information about the conditions of the hunger strikers in Israeli prisons. Since the beginning of the strike on April 17, prisoners have been calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – among other demands for basic rights.