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.
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.
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.
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,