Israeli Soldiers Unwarrantedly Fire at School Shuttle after Inspection

Three Palestinian brothers, Zakaria (8), Zein (14), and Amir Hammad (16), and a fourth youth named Hassan Hammad (15) – not a member of the brothers’ immediate family – live in the village of Silwad in the Ramallah district of the West Bank and attend a private school in the city of Ramallah. The four boys, all of whom also have US citizenship, travel daily to and from school on a private shuttle. On Wednesday, December 9, they were riding home with their regular driver, ‘Abd al-Qaher Hammad, who also lives in Silwad.


The Hammad brothers, from right to left: Zein (14), Zakaria (8), and Amir (16)

The Hammad brothers, from right to left: Zein (14), Zakaria (8), and Amir (16) (Photo: B’Tselem)

Around 2:30 P.M., the shuttle was traveling on the road that connects the villages of ‘Ein Yabrud and Silwad, after it had passed through the tunnel that runs beneath Route 60, a main artery in the West Bank, when it was stopped by a flying checkpoint staffed by Israeli soldiers. The driver stopped the vehicle. After inspecting the shuttle and its occupants the soldiers let the driver pass. When the vehicle had advanced about 10 meters, the soldiers suddenly fired two live rounds at the car, one of which entirely shattered the back window and lodged in the front windshield. The driver drove off quickly, and the boys, who had begun screaming and crying with fright, thinking they were about to die, were treated for severe anxiety at the local clinic in Silwad after reaching the village.

‘Abdallah Hammad – father of the brothers Zakaria, Zein and Amir – filed a complaint with the Palestinian DCO over the gunfire that placed his children’s lives in danger. In response, the Israeli military alleged that one of the pupils riding in the vehicle had thrown a screwdriver at the soldiers. This claim is both inconsistent with the accounts given by the driver and the boys, and is not supported by any corroborating evidence. Even if there were the slightest truth to the claim, the two shots that were fired were a breach of the open-fire regulations. Fortunately, this time, no one was injured by the live round that penetrated the car.