Hebron hospital shooting: ‘It was unnecessary killing’

Cousin of Abdullah al-Shalaldeh, killed by Israelis in a hospital raid, was fatally shot in a separate incident.

Israeli undercover forces are seen in this still image during their raid to the hospital in in the West Bank city of Hebron
Abdullah's killing appears to meet the criteria for extrajudicial execution, according to Amnesty International [Hebron al-Ahli hospital handout/Reuters]

A day after Israeli forces fatally shot 28-year-old Abdullah al-Shalaldeh inside a West Bank hospital, the victim’s cousin has also died of wounds inflicted by Israeli forces.

Mahmoud al-Shalaldeh, 18, died on Friday after being shot by an Israeli soldier the previous day during clashes in Hebron, a relative told Al Jazeera.

“The Israelis have committed a crime against this family. It was unnecessary killing,” Fatima al-Shalaldeh, a journalist who is distantly related to the victims, told Al Jazeera.

They did not have to shoot and kill Abdullah in the hospital. They could have handcuffed him instead.

Fatima al-Shalaldeh, victim's relative

Amnesty International has called for a thorough investigation into Abdullah’s killing, which saw an undercover military unit storm Hebron’s al-Ahli hospital in the early hours of Thursday morning. An estimated 21 officers participated in the operation, which was ostensibly aimed at questioning Abdullah’s cousin, Azzam al-Shalaldeh, who was awaiting surgery in hospital after being shot by an Israeli settler last month.

RELATED: Israeli army unit storms hospital and kills Palestinian

Abdullah, who was visiting Azzam, was shot multiple times in the head and body by Israeli forces after exiting the toilet, according to reports. Azzam was also arrested in the raid, in which Israeli officers entered the hospital disguised in keffiyehs and fake beards. One was dressed as a pregnant woman.

“They did not have to shoot and kill Abdullah in the hospital. They could have handcuffed him instead,” Fatima said.

The Palestinian health ministry has publicly decried Abdullah’s killing as an “assassination”, while Amnesty said it appears to have met the criteria for an extrajudicial execution.

“The evidence suggests this killing was unlawful, as there was no imminent threat to the life of members of the Israeli forces or of anyone else,” Jacob Burns, research and campaigns assistant for Amnesty’s Israel/Palestine team, told Al Jazeera.

Extrajudicial execution is the term used to describe an unlawful and deliberate killing carried out with the complicity of state or military officials.

Burns pointed out that the Israeli army is required to conduct an investigation into the incident if it believes the killing did not take place during combat, but he pointed out that Israeli military investigations “fall far short of the standards of impartiality and thoroughness that would make them effective”.

“All states should support the role of the International Criminal Court in examining alleged violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian Territories,” Burns added.


Although the Israeli military released a statement noting that Abdullah had attacked Israeli forces, Amnesty cited witness accounts stating that the victim was unarmed at the time of the shooting, and that he had not assaulted Israeli forces.

Spokespersons for the Israeli army did not respond to Al Jazeera’s multiple requests for comment.

The incident adds to a “disturbing pattern of similar recent incidents by Israeli forces in the West Bank which warrant urgent investigation,” Amnesty said in a news release issued late on Thursday, citing a number of other apparent extrajudicial executions in recent days, including the November 6 slaying of 72-year-old Tharwat al-Sharawi, and the October 29 killing of 23-year-old Mahdi al-Muhtasib, who was shot after stabbing an Israeli soldier and then shot again as he writhed in pain on the ground.

The latest incidents come amid heightened tensions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, where a string of stabbings and shootings over the past six weeks has killed at least 81 Palestinians and 10 Israelis.

Omar Khamayseh, a lawyer who works in Israel and the occupied territories, told Al Jazeera that he believed Abdullah’s killing violated international law and even domestic Israeli laws.

Israeli army unit storms hospital and kills Palestinian

“The undercover Israeli police unit behaved like gangsters and mafia by killing an unarmed man who did not pose any danger to them,” Khamayseh said, noting the Shalaldeh family may have grounds to sue the state of Israel.

RELATED: Children of Hebron: ‘Everyone is afraid’

Tahseen Elayyan, the head of monitoring and documentation for the Ramallah-based rights group al-Haq, agreed that Abdullah’s killing violated international humanitarian law.

“We believe that the Israeli occupation forces were undercover and used excessive force, and their entrance into a protected area such as a hospital constitutes a war crime,” Elayyan told Al Jazeera. “[Abdullah] could have really been controlled without lethal force.”


Issa Amro, coordinator of the Hebron-based activist group Youth Against Settlements, told Al Jazeera that Palestinians no longer feel safe anywhere – “at home, in the street, in the hospital or in the mosque”. He was critical of the Palestinian Authority’s failure to step in.

“The people are very angry. They don’t want the Palestinian Authority without authority… We don’t any more want a fake government that doesn’t control any land,” he said.

Shada Haddad, a 25-year-old resident of Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighbourhood, expressed fear about what turmoil may still be ahead.

“Every day is worse than the one before it,” she told Al Jazeera. “Any mother here wonders if her son will go out and not come back home.”

Additional reporting by Patrick Strickland and Allison Deger

Follow Ali Younes on Twitter: @Ali_reports

Follow Megan O’Toole on Twitter: @megan_otoole

Source: Al Jazeera


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