Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Shooting in 'Anabta

Thousands filled the streets of 'Anabta Thursday morning

Even if you are reading this post from the U.S. or Europe or some other location far from Palestine, you may have heard about the shooting of two young Palestinian men here in the Tulkarm area yesterday.  A friend in New York told me that it was in the press there, and I’ve read some reports on various on-line sources.

I’m not about to offer the “definitive version” of what happened, because nobody knows – and, honestly, probably nobody will ever know for sure exactly what happened late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning at a lonely checkpoint outside ‘Anabta.  But two of my EAPPI teammates were at the scene shortly after it happened; and all of us spent yesterday in ‘Anabta, monitoring the funeral procession/demonstration, so I would like to tell you what I do know – and what I believe!

'Anabta Checkpoint
Some reports say that the young men were killed as a result of “clashes” with IDF soldiers and the accompanying photos appear to depict a melee with hand-to-hand fighting, tear gas and fire bombs.  I’m here to tell you that those photos were taken elsewhere (probably in Hebron) and were being used to illustrate a story about demonstrations that erupted when a prisoner who had cancer died.  This 60-year-old man did not receive medical treatment while in prison, nor was his family allowed to visit him as he lay dying.  However, that’s another story for another day!

The young men in 'Anabta were not part of a “melee” unless you define melee as four young men, out for a late night walk, who decide to throw stones at a guard tower next to a small, rural checkpoint.  Now I agree that throwing stones is not a good thing to do under “normal” circumstances – and nothing here is “normal!”  However, since when do armed soldiers, wearing bulletproof vests, need to repel stone-throwers with M-16 rifles (US made and provided, I must add!)? 

Young man in Tulkarm hospital
One of the young men (age 17) was shot in the heart and died instantly.  A second (age 19) was shot in the back (when is there ever a justification for that?) and left lying in his own blood for four hours.  His body was found and turned over to Palestinian authorities at 4:00 yesterday morning.  Of the other two young men, one was wounded and taken to the Tulkarm hospital; the fourth was also said to be wounded and was allegedly taken prisoner by the Israeli soldiers. I say “allegedly” because here, Palestinians can be arrested and jailed for lengthy periods of time without being charged with a crime, and with no access to their families or to lawyers.

Yesterday, in ‘Anabta, we talked to a lot of people.  All were sad; many were angry as well.  “This could be the start of a full-scale Intifada,” one elderly gentleman told my colleague, Roland, yelling to be heard over the loudspeaker blaring in the background.

“It is so sad – to throw stones and be gunned down by live ammunition,” said another bystander. 
Bodies of two young men are carried through streets of 'Anabta

Needless to say, these shootings have provoked a lot of reaction here in Tulkarm, and across the West Bank.  We EAs have been warned to be especially careful, as often such incidents lead to violence in the forms of uprisings and clashes.  But, for now, Tulkarm and the rest of the West Bank (except Hebron, as usual!) are quiet.  

(With thanks to my colleague, Adeline, for some of the photos!)

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