Hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists demonstrated last Friday, January 8, in the village of Al-Rakeez, following the shooting of 24-year-old Haroun Abu Aram by an Israeli soldier there on January 1. The shooting has left Abu Aram paralyzed and in critical condition in a Palestinian hospital in the nearby city of Hebron. The Israeli army demolished Abu Aram’s home in November along with that of his neighbor’s, which was under construction.
Demonstrators, among them Hadash and Communist Party of Israel members, marched along the road from the site of the shooting last Friday. Protestors demanded justice for the shooting, with signs reading, “Stop the Killing. Stop the Hate”; “Stop Demolishing our Homes”; and “Justice for Harun.” Israel’s army of occupation declared the area a closed military zone – but refused to show the order to protestors – and attempted to disperse them with tear gas, stun grenades, and physical force. Despite the army’s continued efforts to prevent the march, demonstrators carried on up the road. A community leader in his seventies from a nearby village, Hajj Suleiman, was injured during the demonstration. Eyewitnesses saw a soldier hold Suleiman down with his knee. He is receiving medical treatment at a local clinic.
The demonstration took place a day after the Israeli army claimed that their own initial investigation found that the shooting was unintentional, a claim which eyewitnesses dispute. According to Palestinians who were there, the shooting, at close range, was intentional and the soldiers fired 17 additional rounds, even shooting the car that arrived to take Abu Aram for medical treatment.
Abu Aram was shot during an army raid to confiscate building equipment while he was rebuilding winter shelter following a series of demolitions in Al-Rakeez in November 2020. During 2020m Palestinian communities in the occupied territories have experienced an escalation in demolitions and confiscations of infrastructure. For decades, the villages of the South Hebron Hills have faced ongoing pressures from systematic Israeli efforts to push them off their lands, including violence, harassment from settlers, and home demolitions. These days the Palestinian residents of Masafer Yatta await a verdict from the High Court of Justice which could approve Israel’s use of the territory as a live firing zone (deemed Firing Zone 918 by the Israeli army) and cause the forcible transfer of more than 1,000 persons.
Hadash condemned the shooting of Abu Aram and Joint List head MK Ayman Odeh called him “another victim of the attempt to push the Palestinian villagers in Area C into cities and to seize as much territory as possible there with as few Palestinians as possible.” Odeh continued, “The only solution is the end of the occupation and an independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.” Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman tweeted, “Settlers and soldiers are the two hands of the same oppressive system… A soldier shot a Palestinian while trying to seize a generator. These crimes won’t end until the occupation does.”
The European Union has called for an investigation into the shooting of Abu Aram, tweeting in a statement by the EU delegation to the Palestinians: “The EU opposes such excessive and disproportionate use of force and calls on the Israeli authorities to swiftly and fully investigate this serious incident in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
- The shooting of Haroun Abu Aram: https://www.facebook.com/ofercass/videos/1546036555597193
- The protest in in the village of Al-Rakeez, January 8, 2021: https://www.facebook.com/ofercass/videos/1306197416428348