Israeli forces kill Palestinian man at West Bank flying checkpoint
Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man and injured his wife in the early hours of Tuesday morning as the pair were on their way home to their village of Biddu, northwest of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank.
Osama Mansour, 42, and his wife Sumayya, 35, were on their way home around 2:30am when they were stopped at a flying checkpoint outside the neighbouring village al-Jib, where Israeli soldiers were conducting a search and arrest operation.
In an interview with news channel Palestine TV, Sumayya Mansour said that Israeli soldiers stopped her and her husband’s car at the checkpoint and told them to turn off the vehicle, which she says they did.
“Then they told us to turn the car back on and leave, and so we drove off - and then they all started firing bullets at us,” she said from her hospital bed in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
According to testimonies from family members, before the pair were told to drive off, soldiers asked to check their IDs, which Osama Mansour willingly handed over, and searched the car.
“After the soldiers checked their IDs, and their names in the system, and searched their entire car, the soldiers deemed that they were not a threat and told them to turn their car on and pass,” Imran Mansour, 57, a cousin and neighbour of Osama told Middle East Eye.
“They barely made it a few metres when the soldiers started firing at them from all directions,” Imran Mansour said, recounting testimony he heard from Sumayya and other eyewitnesses.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) condemned the "atrocious crime", calling it "just one in a long and ongoing series of extrajudicial executions" committed by Israeli forces.
The Israeli military said in a statement that the Mansours’ vehicle accelerated towards a group of soldiers “in a way that endangered their lives”, and that the soldiers responded with gunfire “to thwart the threat”.
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Imran Mansour told MEE. “Why would a father of five children, with his wife in the car, try to commit an attack while they were on their way home back to their children?
“If Osama was really trying to commit an attack on the soldiers, he wouldn’t have followed all their orders - stopping the car, turning it off, giving the soldiers their names and IDs, letting them search the car,” the relative added.
According to Wafa, the official PA news agency, eyewitnesses claimed Israeli soldiers threw a stun grenade in the direction of the car, causing Osama Mansour, who was driving, to speed up the vehicle.
Imran Mansour said that while he couldn’t confirm if the stun grenade is what led his cousin to speed up the car, he said that he was told by people who witnessed the incident that there were clashes happening in the area due to the soldiers’ arrest operation in al-Jib, and that stun grenades and tear gas had been fired in the area.
No medical attention
According to testimony Sumayya made to Palestine TV, moments after the soldiers fired at her car, she called out to her husband, who asked her if she was injured. Seconds later, she said, he fell into her lap and the car started swerving.
“The car was going left and right, so I started to steer it until I found a group of young men in front of me, and I stopped so they could help us,” she said.
According to Imran Mansour, the young men put the couple in their private vehicles and drove them to the local clinic in Biddu. The couple were then transferred to a hospital in the city of Ramallah, where Osama was pronounced dead.
“Osama was hit with two bullets in the head,” Imran Mansour said, adding that Sumayya was injured with bullet fragments, but was in a stable condition and had requested to be released from the hospital back to her home as of early Tuesday afternoon.
According to Imran Mansour, Israeli soldiers did not provide any first aid or medical assistance to the couple after their car stopped a short distance away from the flying checkpoint.
“They just stood there and watched as the young men tried to help Osama and Sumayya,” he said. “They did nothing to help them.”
Killed in ‘cold blood’
The death of Osama came as a shock to the Mansour family, who was notified of the incident by the local health clinic in Biddu.
“These kinds of things happen in Palestine almost every day, but you hope that it will never happen to you or your family,” Imran told MEE.
‘As a Palestinian, you are always scared, and just waiting for this disaster to happen to your family’
- Imran Mansour, relative
According to him, the death of Osama, and the fact that the soldiers who killed him are claiming he attacked them, is bringing up difficult memories and a familiar pain for the family.
“This is not the first time this has happened to our family,” he said, adding that in 2016, one of their relatives, 19-year-old Sawsan Mansour, was shot and killed at an Israeli checkpoint north of Jerusalem.
“The soldiers claimed that she was trying to stab them, but none of the soldiers were injured, and they shot her in cold blood, just like they did to Osama today,” he said, adding that eyewitnesses at the time claimed that Sawsan was left to bleed for hours, with no medical attention.
“These crimes are always happening against the Palestinian people - when we go out in our cars, or pass through checkpoints. As a Palestinian, you are always scared, and just waiting for this disaster to happen to your family,” Imran said.
Imran told MEE that his cousin Osama was “a simple man”, who lived his life doing everything he could to provide for his wife and five children, the youngest of which are seven-year-old twin girls.
“He was killed in cold blood, and the soldiers who killed him will never be held responsible,” he said, criticising the Israeli courts that “protect their soldiers at all costs”.
Rights groups have regularly pointed out that soldiers and police officers are seldom held accountable by the Israeli justice system for the killing of Palestinians, fostering what some have called a culture of impunity.
“If a Palestinian is killed for no reason, all a soldier has to do is claim self defence, and he is let off without so much as a slap on the wrist,” Imran said. “And this is what they are trying to do now with Osama.
“Osama isn’t the first, nor will he be the last Palestinian who is killed in cold blood, for no reason, by the Israelis.”