Middle East
Palestinian protester dies of his wounds
Mustafa Tamimi was throwing stones at an Israeli military vehicle when a tear gas canister was shot at him directly.
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2011 20:18
Mustafa Tamimi died on Saturday after being fired upon by the Israeli army at a demonstration in the West Bank [AFP]

A Palestinian protester hit in the face by a projectile fired by Israeli forces died of his wounds, activists said.

Witnesses say Mustafa Tamimi, 28, was throwing stones at a military vehicle when a tear gas canister was shot at him directly during a demonstration on Friday in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. He later died on Saturday.

Tensions also simmered on Israel's southern border and in Gaza, where mourners buried a 12-year-old boy killed in an Israeli strike on Friday.

Tamimi is the 20th person to be killed over the past eight years at demonstrations throughout the West Bank, said Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

Photographs taken by Israeli activist Haim Schwarczenberg show Tamimi rushing after an armoured military vehicle. The photographer said he was throwing stones.

"As he was throwing stones, a soldier opened the door of the back of the jeep. A soldier took his gun out and shot him directly," Schwarczenberg said.

He then crumples to the ground a few meters from the back of the vehicle. His friends rush to the scene, covering his bloodied face with a black-and-white Palestinian checkered scarf.

Tamimi died of his wounds at the Beilinson Hospital in central Israel, said Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak.

'Excessive force'

Tamimi's supporters accused soldiers of using excessive force to deal with the protester, delaying an ambulance from reaching him and not letting his family or others to be with him.

"The question is not whether the person is throwing stones or not throwing stones, the question is whether the army is allowed to use deadly force from within an armoured vehicle,'' said activist Pollak.

B'Tselem spokeswoman Michaeli said she had personally filmed at least a dozen cases over the years of soldiers directly firing the projectiles at demonstrators, sometimes causing terrible injuries. She said the difference in this case was the very close range between the demonstrator and the soldier, who hit Tamimi in the face.

A spokeswoman for the military said it generally used canisters "to contain the violent and illegal riots that take place in Judea and Samaria," referring to the West Bank by its Biblical name. "Such means were used during the course of yesterday's riot in Nabi Saleh."

Tear gas canister casualties include Palestinian Bassem Abu Rahmeh, who was killed in 2009 when one hit his chest. They also include Tristan Anderson of Oakland, California, who is suffering from brain damage, paralysis and seizures after he was hit in the head by a canister at a 2009 demonstration.

The West Bank sees weekly demonstrations against illegal Jewish settlement activity and the building of Israel's separation wall, which has swallowed Palestinian farmland in its route.

In the Gaza Strip on Saturday, hundreds of angry mourners marched in a funeral procession for a 12-year-old boy who was killed on Friday in an Israeli strike.

Nearby, Palestinian fighters fired two rockets toward Israel, but they caused no injuries, said a military spokeswoman.

Israeli forces had carried multiple airstrikes against Hamas facilities and suspected fighters on Friday.

One airstrike damaged a house next to a targeted site, killing 42-year-old civilian Bahajat Zaalan and wounding several family members. One of the wounded, Zaalan's son Ramadan, died of his injuries later Friday.

A strike on Wednesday killed one Palestinian, while another strike on Thursday near a crowded park in Gaza City killed two more, scattering their body parts over the area.

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