Friday, November 17, 2017

American-Palestinian child Mahmoud Shaalan was killed in cold blood, investigation finds


By Lili Martinez - July 13, 2016
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [checkpoints] [Beit il] [Israeli army] [Ramallah] [Extrajudicial Killing]

On February 26, 2016, sixteen-year-old Mahmoud Shaalan was walking to his grandmother’s house in Al-Bireh, the sister city of Ramallah, when he was shot and killed at the Bet El DCO checkpoint. The Israeli army said Shaalan attempted to stab a soldier at the checkpoint using a knife he had on his person. However, once again, they have not released video footage of the incident, and eyewitness accounts appear to contradict the Israeli narrative, saying Shaalan was turning to return the way he had come when he was shot.

Palestinian non-profit association Accountability for Violence Against Children (AVAC) held a press conference Wednesday in Ramallah to announce the conclusion of its own investigation into Shaalan’s killing, which it launched at the request of his family. AVAC’s investigation found Shaalan was “executed in cold blood,” according to the official statement, and found seven wounds present on his body “caused by objects fired to cause harm or intent to kill.”


Nader Jayousi Lawyer and spokeperson at AVAC

The investigation further found that the teen could not have been attacking a soldier at the time of his death because he only sustained wounds on his back. “The distance as well as the positioning of the victim proved he was not attempting an attack and did not pose any danger or threat to the lives of soldiers,” the report added. 

While the Palestinian Military Liaison has formally requested a copy of the security camera footage of the incident, it has of yet received no response from the Israeli army. According to Nader Jayousi, lawyer and spokesperson at AVAC, the Israeli army informed the organization that the cameras do not cover the area in which Shaalan was killed.


Map of the reconstruction of the event in Bet El DCO checkpoint

Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, spoke at the conference. He told Palestine Monitor that extrajudicial killings committed by the Israeli army have become a commonplace occurrence. “Since October [of last year], we have noticed an unprecedented increase in the number of extrajudicial killings,” Barghouti told Palestine Monitor. “This is a very serious phenomenon, it’s not individual, it’s a general policy and it has to stop.”

While no charges have yet been filed regarding Shaalan’s death, AVAC has prepared extensive evidence disproving the Israeli army’s narrative regarding the killing, in case a criminal trial is launched. This evidence includes eyewitness testimony from the driver of a car stopped near the scene of the shooting, paramedic testimony from the Palestinian ambulance driver which was not allowed to tend to Shaalan’s wounds, photo and video footage, and the autopsy report, among other documents.

Shaalan is a dual American-Palestinian citizen and his entire family holds United States citizenship. AVAC is working with the US Consulate and the family in their ongoing investigation. 

Thirty-one children have been killed by the Israeli army since October 2015, according to child rights NGO Defense for Children International. While the IDF often opens investigations into extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, it is rare for soldiers to be prosecuted or convicted.

 


.Since October [of last year], we have noticed an unprecedented increase in the number of extrajudicial killings.

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