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Wounded Palestinian shot dead by Israeli soldier mourned in Hebron

Family rejects restrictions placed on funeral by Israeli authorities, leads massive street procession
Palestinian mourners bear the body of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif through the streets of Hebron on Saturday (MEE/Anas Abu Rmeilah)

HEBRON, West Bank - Hundreds of mourners on Saturday attended the funeral of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who was shot dead by an Israeli soldier while lying wounded on the ground, a slaying captured by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem on a video that sparked international outrage.

Israeli authorities on Friday evening transferred the body of Sharif, 21, to Hebron’s Al-Ahli Hospital after holding it for more than two months.

Sharif’s family rejected restrictions placed on the funeral by Israeli authorities before release of the body, and led a massive procession from the hospital to Sharif’s house and on to the Hebron Martyrs Cemetery.

“We refused Israeli instructions to hold the funeral at night with only a few people in attendance. Our son deserves to be buried properly, and we have a right to say our last goodbyes,” Sharif’s father Yusri said.

The Israeli soldier who killed Sharif, Sergeant Elor Azaria, has been released from custody, though he faces a charge of manslaughter, which was downgraded from murder.

During the funeral, Sharif’s father and relatives said the trial was an attempt by the Israeli army to "mislead international public opinion" after the release of the video caught the attention of many right groups and institutions.

Judicial medical report

The director of the Medico-Legal Institute at An-Najah University, Ryan Ali, took part in the autopsy of Sharif and completed a judicial medical report describing the slaying in detail.

Ali told MEE that Sharif was shot with a number of bullets, some of which focused on lower limbs as well as the top side of the chest, adding that one bullet had penetrated the chest cavity and led to the right lung rupturing and causing internal bleeding in the chest cavity.

However, the doctor said those injuries were superficial and did not lead to death directly, because the amount of blood collected in the right chest cavity did not exceed half a liter and was not sufficient to cause death.

The fatal shot was the last one, which penetrated the skull from the top of the right side and led to a complete laceration of the wall and the disintegration of the bones of the skull, the doctor said.

Ali said the results illustrated in the nine-page report constituted a complete dossier for a condemnation of Israel, evidence to be taken by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others responsible before an international court.

Funeral procession led from hospital to Sharif’s house and on to Hebron Martyrs Cemetery (MEE/Anas Abu Rmeilah)
Funeral procession led from hospital to Sharif’s house and on to Hebron Martyrs Cemetery (MEE/Anas Abu Rmeilah)

The Palestinian ministry had previously said that it would take the completed file on the execution of Sharif before the International Criminal Court in the Hague

It also said that Sharif’s autopsy results “apply to all cases of field executions against Palestinians, and the occupation authorities working to cover and obscure evidence against soldier murderers.”

‘Clearly an execution’

The governor of Hebron, Kamel Hmaid, noted that Sharif’s funeral was held “in conjunction with the release of the accused soldier.” He said the slaying was “clearly an execution, with unequivocal evidence”, and urged all concerned authorities to put a stop to such slayings.

Hmaid said Palestinian authorities would pursue the legal proceedings to completion to produce the required file for the international court, in cooperation with the family of Sharif and the ministry.

Mohammed Abu Allan, an activist and observer of Israeli affairs, said: “The occupation wasn’t successful in concealing the crime of Sharif’s execution, so it is trying to promote the idea that the crime was a single event of a soldier who acted alone.”

He said regardless of whether the soldier had been instructed to shoot at that moment or not, “such actions are based in the Israeli army’s occupation and are not exceptional. Over the past eight months, the occupation has killed a number of Palestinians who weren’t implementing any stabbings”.

Sharif was shot alongside Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi on 24 March, after the two allegedly stabbed and moderately wounded an Israeli soldier.

Qasrawi was killed immediately, while al-Sharif was left lying on the ground wounded for several minutes, before the Israeli soldier stepped forward and shot him directly in the head.