The Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Negotiations Affairs Department have condemned the killing of a Palestinian man by Israeli soldiers, and called for an international investigation into his death.
Ahmed Erekat, 27, was shot at the Container checkpoint in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and left to bleed to death for more than an hour after Israeli soldiers banned a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance from treating him.
“The execution of Erekat [Ahmed] and leaving him to bleed to death, preventing the Red Crescent crew from providing medical aid, and detaining his body is a horrific crime that calls for the International Criminal Court to speed up the opening of the criminal investigation against Israeli war criminals,” the Negotiations Affairs Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
The continuation of these crimes, the department added, is the result of the “total impunity Israel exploits in light of the international community’s inability to fulfil its responsibilities and duties in deterring these violations and crimes against humanity”.
“The time has come to … for the concerned countries around the world to carry out their duties to hold Israeli war criminals accountable for their actions against Palestinians,” it said, adding that the investigation should also look into the death of Iyad al-Hallaq, a Palestinian autistic man who was gunned down by Israeli police in Jerusalem earlier this month.
Ahmed, who is the nephew of PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and was due to get married in two weeks, was on his way to pick up his mother and sisters, who were at a beauty salon getting ready for his sister’s wedding that evening.
Israeli security forces said Ahmed had attempted to ram his vehicle into a soldier at the checkpoint, lightly injuring her, before they opened fire.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said the man “drove his vehicle quickly towards the direction of a female border police officer who was injured lightly”.
But Palestinian officials rejected the police’s account of the man’s death.
Ahmed was “executed” by the Israeli police, his uncle Saeb told AFP, adding that he held Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responsible for “this crime”.
He dismissed the police allegation of an attempted car-ramming as “impossible”, saying that Ahmed was due to be married in two weeks.
“This young man was killed in cold blood. Tonight was his sister’s wedding,” Saeb said.
“What the occupation army claims, that he was trying to run someone over, is a lie.”
For its part, the PA foreign ministry said the crimes of the Israeli occupation would not go unpunished, and that it will work with all international law institutions, as well as the United Nations, in order to document these crimes to hold the occupation accountable.
“This crime is a continuation of the policies of Israel, and its illegal and systematic occupation authority, which is widespread and systematic in the form of field executions, and intentional and arbitrary killings,” the ministry said.
A video posted by a Palesitnian bystander showed Ahmed lying on the road, bleeding out and twitching.
“They shot him in front of us directly,” the bystander is heard saying as he filmed. “May God rest his soul.”
Palestinians and human rights groups have also accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force, or in some cases opening fire at cars that merely lost control.
The director of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Bethlehem confirmed that a soldier prevented Palestinian medical personnel from approaching the man who was left to bleed, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
The statements followed Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi’s call for the international community to take “concrete steps” to hold Israel accountable for Ahmed’s death.
“Palestinian lives matter,” she wrote in a statement, recalling last month’s police killing of an autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem.
“Israel also attempted to slander Ahmed and excuse his murder. It is part of a tragically familiar pattern, where Israel habitually uses false pretexts that are all too familiar now to justify the murder of Palestinians by trigger happy soldiers,” Ashrawi said.
— PLO Department of Public Diplomacy & Policy (@PalestinePDP) June 23, 2020
“Ahmed Erekat, 27, beautiful young man. A son. A brother. Fiancee. My baby cousin,” Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney based in the US wrote on Twitter, sharing his photos.
“Israeli cowards shot him multiple times, left him to bleed for 1.5 hours and blamed him for his death. Tonight was his sister’s wedding, his was next month. We failed to protect him. I am so sorry,” she wrote.
Ahmed Erekat, 27, beautiful young man. A son. A brother. Fiancée. My baby cousin. Israeli cowards shot him multiple times, left him to bleed for 1.5 hours and blamed him for his death. Tonight was his sister’s wedding, his was next month. We failed to protect him. I am so sorry. pic.twitter.com/3E341iE7sM
— Noura Erakat (@4noura) June 23, 2020
The Negotiations Affairs Department said Ahmed‘s killing comes on the eve of the US administration meeting to take the final unilateral decision for Israel to annex and partition Palestinian land “in flagrant violation of international legitimacy, and in the context of the Israeli escalation aimed at uprooting the Palestinian from his land”.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said the government would take steps towards annexing Israeli settlements, illegal under international law, and the Jordan Valley from July 1, a promise he had long made, which was supported in a so-called “Middle East plan” proposed by US President Donald Trump earlier this year.
The Palestinians have rejected the proposal as the Palestinian Authority wants the West Bank to form part of a future Palestinian state.
The proposals have sparked widespread international criticism and warnings that such a move would lead to violence.