Gunned Down at Age 10

The al Fawwar Refugee Camp was established in 1949 on a small piece of land  (0.27 square kilometres) located 10 km south of the city of Hebron.   Initial residents were refugees displaced from the areas of Beersheeva, Gaza, and Hebron. Today, the refugee camp is home to between 9,000 and 10,000 people, 65% of whom are under the age of 25.

Part of the main street of the al Fawwar Refugee Camp.

Part of the main street of the al Fawwar Refugee Camp.

Conditions in the camp are grim.  Population density is high.  Poverty rates are high.  Unemployment stands at 32%.  Schools are overcrowded.  All homes are connected to public water and electrical systems, but the infrastructure is obviously old and in need of upgrades.  The sewage system is inadequate, with many homes not connected to the public system. An Israeli army camp is nearby.  There are frequent clashes between the army and local villagers, and frequent night raids on houses.  It’s a tough place to live.  It’s a tough place to raise a family.  It’s a tough place to grow up in.

Another portion of the main street of the al Fawwar Refugee Camp.

Another portion of the main street of the al Fawwar Refugee Camp.

But none of this can excuse what happened one Sunday morning in August.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports:

“On the morning of 10 August 2014, a soldier shot 10-year-old Palestinian boy Khalil ‘Anati in al-Fawwar Refugee Camp in the West Bank. The boy was rushed in his uncle’s car to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An investigation by B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash revealed that at approximately 9:30 A.M., a white Water Authority jeep drove into the refugee camp, accompanied by two army vehicles. The white jeep reached a water facility inside the camp and the army vehicles stopped nearby, at two different locations close to the camp’s main road. Some five boys and youths, including Khalil ‘Anati, threw stones at one of the army vehicles from alleys leading off the main road. Some ten minutes later, the white jeep drove out of the camp, followed by the army vehicles.

One of the military vehicles had parked facing the center of the camp and turned around close to one of the alleys from which the stones had been thrown. On its way out of the camp, the vehicle stopped next to another alley, from which stones had apparently been thrown, too. The driver opened the door, fired a single shot, and resumed driving. About half a minute later, the second vehicle drove by the same alley without stopping. The single shot, which was preceded by no warning or use of non-lethal measures, killed 10-year-old ‘Anati. Medical records obtained by B’Tselem show that he was struck by a live bullet that entered his lower back and exited through his thigh.”  http://www.btselem.org/firearms/20140921_killing_of_khalil_anati

The story is simple, but brutal.  Two army jeeps accompanied the local water authority into the refugee camp for a routine check at the water plant.  A few boys threw stones at the jeeps.  Without warning,  without the use of non-lethal devices (eg sound bombs or tear gas to disperse a threatening crowd), one of the soldiers stopped his armoured jeep, opened the door, and using live ammunition fired his high powered gun up a residential alley.  He continued on his way.  A 10 year old boy lay dying on the ground.

The army jeep stopped at this alley.  The driver opened the door and shot his gun into this alley.  Khalil'Anati was at the far end of the alley, near the post.

The army jeep stopped at this alley, located directly off of the main road through the refugee camp. The driver opened the door and shot his gun into the alley. Khalil’Anati was at the far end of the alley, near the post, when he was shot.

A neighbour video-taped the incident.

The B’Tselem report goes on to say: “The video footage and B’Tselem’s investigation indicate that four or five boys and youths were throwing stones from alleys. It is not clear whether stones were thrown at the army vehicle when it stopped at the entrance to the alley where ‘Anati was shot. However, it is clear that the soldiers were not in mortal danger and therefore were not permitted to use live fire. It is doubtful that the circumstances even merited the use of less injurious means. The shooting that killed ‘Anati was certainly unjustified. Use of live fire in such a context is unlawful, and the circumstances raise the suspicion the soldier aimed directly at the boy.”  http://www.btselem.org/firearms/20140921_killing_of_khalil_anati

It is obvious that there is a huge disproportion of force between small boys throwing stones at an armoured jeep, and a soldier from that jeep firing live ammunition into a residential neighbourhood.  Sadly, this situation is not unique.  The circumstances vary, but there are all too many incidents across the West Bank where young Palestinian boys, armed with nothing more than a few stones, have been shot by Israeli soldiers.  Always in the name of “security.”

This is the reality Palestinian families live with.  The lives of their sons are almost always at risk.  As a Mom, and as a grandmother, I cannot imagine the stress of living this way.

The morning he was shot, Khalil’s Mom had sent him out to buy bread for his family.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom,

Jan

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Humanity Lost in Insanity

It seems that the insanity continues. If it weren’t so true, it might even be laughable. But it is true. And as a result, people – real human people with names and families and lives and loved ones – people who share our humanity – people who share our common basic human needs – are suffering. Unnecessarily suffering. It is unconscionable.

On Friday of last week, the day after internationals, Israeli’s and local villagers worked together to clean up the rubble resulting from the home demolitions at Um al Kher, the Palestinian Authority arrived with 3 toilets and 3 tents. The toilets were necessary to replace those lost. The tents are larger and more substantial than the ones the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) brought. The displaced villagers intended to live in these tents until more permanent housing could be secured. One tent was erected immediately over the foundation of one of the destroyed houses and another was placed in close proximity to the house it was sent to replace. A third tent was not put up.

Clearing the rubble and firming up the base for the foundation of a future rebuilt house.

Clearing the rubble and firming up the base for the foundation of a future rebuilt house.

 

Another view of the interior of one of the PA tents, built upon the existing foundation and levelled rubble of the demolished house.

The interior of one of the PA tents, built upon the existing foundation and levelled rubble of the demolished house.

 

The corner of the tent, built upon the rubble.

The corner of the tent, built upon the rubble that we carefully levelled two days earlier.

 

The interior of one of the three tents delivered by the Palestinian Authority on Friday.  This one was placed directly over the foundation of a demolished house.

The interior of one of the three tents delivered by the Palestinian Authority on Friday.  While not a house, it would provide some degree of shelter from cold winter winds and rain.

We visited on Saturday night. As we sat in one of the newly erected tents, we were told that the Israeli Civil Administration had been there that day, had measured the tents and the toilets, and had informed the villagers that they would be arriving soon to demolish these structures.

On Monday, the villagers took down the two tents and hid the toilets.

On Wednesday, the army arrived with their bulldozers. Unable to find the PA tents or the toilets, they took away the two small ICRC tents.

 

An ICRC tent placed in front of the rubble of  Iman and Bilal's home.  It was removed this week by Israeli authorities.

An ICRC tent placed in front of the rubble of Iman and Bilal’s home. It was removed this week by Israeli authorities.

 

Since then, they have also taken away the three  larger PA tents.

Villagers have now put the toilets back up.

At this point, it is unclear what the next steps will be.  Anxieties run high.

It is unknown if, when, and how either temporary or permanent replacement housing will be built.

Winter is closing in.  Storms bringing rain and cold temperatures are forecast for tomorrow.

The need is obvious.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom,

Jan