Israeli forces accused of killing ‘defenceless Palestinian’ man

Israeli forces say the Palestinian man ‘attempted ramming attack’, but the Palestinian foreign ministry says it was a ‘traffic accident’.

Members of the Israeli security forces at the scene where a Palestinian man was reportedly shot and killed
The 36-year-old man from the West Bank town of Beit Ijza was a "defenceless Palestinian" who was not "posing any danger," the Palestinian foreign ministry said. [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank after what the army called an “attempted ramming attack”, but the Palestinian authorities have accused Israeli police of intentionally killing the man, identified as Muhammad Ali Hussein Awad.

“The Israeli police deliberately shot Awad, with the aim of killing him, after his vehicle collided with a police vehicle in a traffic accident,” the Palestinian foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The 36-year-old from the West Bank town of Beit Ijza, near Jerusalem, was a “defenceless Palestinian” who was not “posing any danger”, the ministry added.

The Israeli military said a soldier and a police officer saw a vehicle speeding up as it headed straight at them in an apparent attempt to ram into them. The soldier then shot towards the vehicle, it said, and the suspect was “neutralised”.

The victim’s family also contested the Israeli army’s version of the incident, saying the 36-year-old likely lost control of the car, according to Reuters.

Al Jazeera could not immediately verify rival accounts of the incident.

The father of three worked as a teacher in a school in Bir Nabala village, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

His cousin, Ramadan, told WAFA that the Israeli forces opened fire rather than assisting him after the crash.

They have faced criticism over their frequent use of lethal force, including in the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin in May.

Israel has been on high alert in advance of the Jewish holiday season, beginning on Sunday evening with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

Car-ramming incidents and other attacks by Palestinians on Israeli military vehicles at checkpoints have regularly taken place in recent years in the West Bank, which Israel occupied after the Six Day War of 1967.

The northern West Bank – notably Jenin and Nablus – has seen near-daily Israeli military operations since March.

Israel has launched hundreds of raids in the area in pursuit of individuals it accuses of involvement in deadly attacks targeting Israelis.

These raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians and inflamed tensions across Israel and the occupied territories.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies