Monday, May 25, 2020

Mohammed Asfour latest victim to die at the hands of Israeli army

By Jessica Purkiss - March 12, 2013
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [protests] [Israeli army] [prisoners] [Israeli violence]

Photo by Jessica Purkiss.

Mohammed Asfour became the most recent victim in the clashes that have erupted across the West Bank since February 19. He died two days before celebrating his 23rd birthday, on March 7, two weeks after he was shot by the Israeli army.

According to an OCHA report, during the six day period from the 19- 25 of February 440 Palestinians were injured by Israeli soldiers in protests.

The protests began in support of the Palestinian hunger striking prisoners in Israeli jails. They escalated following the death of Arafat Jaradat on February 23 in custody in Megiddo prison under interrogation. 

A Palestinian doctor who attended Jaradat’s autopsy claim he died as a result of torture. This is denied by the Israeli government.

Mohammed Asfour was shot in the head with a steel coated rubber bullet by Israeli soldiers on February 22. He was protesting in support of the hunger striking prisoners in his village of Aboud, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Israeli military say rubber bullets are a “non-lethal” means of dispersing protests. In reality, rubber bullets include steel bullets covered in a thin layer of rubber or plastic covering. 

A piece of research conducted by Professor Michael Krausz and colleagues at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa in 2000 concluded that "This type of ammunition should therefore not be considered a safe method of crowd control."

After the shooting, Asfour was evacuated to Salfit Hospital and then to Rafidya Hospital in Nablus. A few days later he was transferred to Echilov hospital in Tel Aviv after his critical condition worsened.

Asfour was a senior studying Physical Education student at Alquds University in Abu Dis, and was expected to graduate by the end of this semester. 

Photo by Jessica Purkiss.

He is the sixth Palestinian to be killed as a result of being shot by the Israeli army since the beginning of this year. Yet another death highlights a dangerous trigger-happy trend increasing within the Israeli army in recent years. Mohammed is the oldest of the victims, the youngest of which was 15 year old Saleh Elamareen, who was shot in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem by a suspected dumdum bullet. 

Lubna Hanash, 21, was shot outside a refugee camp near Hebron. Anwar al-Mamluk, 20 was shot by soldiers near the Gaza military perimeter fence. Udai Darwish, 21, was shot as he crossed the Apartheid Wall in Hebron on his way to work in Israel. Samir Awad, 17, was shot near the Apartheid Wall in the village of Budrus.

Mohammed Asfour’s funeral took place on March, Friday 8 after noon prayers in the village of Aboud.

Around 5000 mourners who had arrived from across the West Bank to pay their respects attended the funeral. Israeli soldiers guarded the entrance to the village. Local transportation was not in service due to the village’s anticipation of clashes.

After the funeral, clashes did indeed break out between the Israeli soldiers guarding the entrance to the village and youth throwing stones. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used to disperse the crowds, in addition to “skunk water”. 

Soldiers attempted to prevent some media from filming in certain locations. 

A Yesh Din report published in February 2013 revealed that in the entire year of 2012, out of 103 investigations opened regarding suspected criminal offences committed against Palestinians or their property, not one has led to an indictment.  From a combined total of 492 complaints filed to the Military Police Complaint Investigation Department in the last two years there has been only 1 indictment. 

With these damning statistics it seems that justice for the victims and their families is unlikely to be reached.

Photo by Jessica Purkiss.

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