Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian youth, assault Christian peacemakers

Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian youth, assault Christian peacemakers

By agency reporter
2 Jul 2008

Israeli soldiers have assaulted Christian Peacemakers and shot and killed a Palestinian youth in a village north of Hebron.

Mohammad Al-Alameh, who was 17, was a member of a family with whom the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has had frequent contact in recent years.

The incident happened in the evening on Friday, 27 June in Beit Ummar.

The shooting occurred minutes after local contacts in Beit Ummar made a call to the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Hebron, saying that the Israeli soldiers were entering homes and detaining civilians.

Two CPTers rushed to the village by taxi, accompanied by a visitor to CPT, who was on crutches.

When the team arrived half an hour later, rocks littered the main street. Israeli soldiers marched up and down the block with assault rifles held in a firing position, amid clusters of Palestinian men huddled in quiet shock.

Abuata attempted to photograph the troops, but was tackled to the ground without warning by an Israeli soldier. Another soldier knocked Harrington off his crutches when he approached to help Abuata. While Abuata and Harrington sat on the pavement, a third soldier threatened Van Hoogstraten and demanded his video camera. He removed the tape before returning the camera to Van Hoogstraten.

Abuata rose and confronted the soldiers, saying, "You killed a 17-year-old boy tonight. Why? His blood is on your hands." The soldier nearest to him smiled, and Abuata asked, "Why are you smiling? Do you have no conscience? Will you do anything the government orders you to do? Are you not accountable to God?"

More troops emerged from jeeps and advanced up the street. The assembled men of the village did not respond. CPTers followed the soldiers and Abuata continued: "What you are doing is wrong. Why are your fingers on the trigger? How would you feel if a foreign army came to your city with guns drawn? This is an illegal occupation!"

The soldiers finally climbed into their jeeps and raced off, throwing a sound bomb that caused several Beit Ummar villagers and the CPTers to hit the pavement.

The following morning, Van Hoogstraten and Abuata accompanied the Al-Alameh family and a large crowd to bring the body from the hospital in Hebron to the family's house, and then to the mosque. Two armored vehicles parked between the watchtower at the entrance to the village and the cemetery gate. Soldiers stood nearby, including the officer who claimed to have shot the youth.

Community leaders kept young men away from the soldiers, but eventually someone lobbed a stone at one of the jeeps. Though an officer responded by shooting live ammunition, no one was injured.

As the throng returned after the conclusion of burial, the army followed them into the village. Over the next hour, CPTers witnessed intermittent exchanges of stones and gunfire and heard reports that one man from Beit Ummar sustained a head injury and another an injury to the shoulder.

A link to video showing Abuata engaging the soldiers is available at http://www.youtube.com/user/cpthebron

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