Israeli Army Sniper Killed Unarmed Boy
Video has emerged of the moment an unarmed 16-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead by a sniper during the Jenin military operation there last week, demolishing Israel’s claims that only combatants were killed.
The video, which The Times has verified with witnesses, as well as with the parents of the dead teenager, appears to capture the moment Abdulrahman Hasan Ahmad Hardan died as he stood in front of the al-Amal hospital, after responding to a call from the mosque in his village to donate blood.
“My son hadn’t even turned 17,” his mother, Kifaya Hardan, said from their home in Fahmeh, in the West Bank, after watching the video. “The occupation killed him in cold blood, and accused him of taking part in armed confrontations. He wasn’t carrying a gun or anything. He was a child.”
Abdulrahman was shot at 1pm last Tuesday, the second day of Israel’s intensive search for weapons in the Jenin refugee camp, a hub for mostly Iranian-funded armed Palestinian militancy in the West Bank in the past two years.
The video shows him leaning forward, empty-handed, to look down the street outside the al-Amal hospital. He slumps suddenly to the ground, shot by an apparent sniper. A friend of Abdulrahman told the family he had tried to warn him away after spotting a sniper nearby.
Israel hailed the operation as a victory that had destroyed a militant command centre and bomb-making facilities while seizing caches of weapons.
Crucially, the Israeli Defence Forces had claimed Abdulrahman was carrying an automatic weapon when he was shot – which the video appears to rebut – and that all 12 Palestinians killed during the operation were combatants. Four of the 12 were aged under 18.
The Times visited the Hardan family home the day after noisy funerals for the dead, attended by armed militants, took place in Jenin refugee camp.
Abdulrahman’s body was carried with the others through the camp, before his father accompanied it home for a peaceful burial in the village.
The next day the family home was a place of quiet mourning for the women of the family, who gathered in a living room with Abdulrahman’s mother, father and siblings, weeping over his death. The sober scene was a far cry from other funerals, where dead fighters were celebrated as martyrs.
Militant groups such as the relatively new Jenin Brigades, Islamic Jihad and the armed wing of Fatah have little compunction about claiming non-combatants, even unarmed women and children, as their martyrs. Militants took banners to the house celebrating him as such; his family expressed their unhappiness at that – at not inconsiderable risk to themselves – but they were adamant: Abdulrahman was not a militant and did not belong to any armed group.
His mother, Kifaya, said he had used public transport to get to the al-Amal hospital in Jenin to give blood, after an appeal by the village mosque.
“I had no reason to think he would be in danger. The Israeli operation was in Jenin refugee camp and the hospital was not inside.” She wept as she described rushing to Jenin after learning that her son had been shot in the head. He died five hours later in surgery. “He was an ordinary boy, he was not a terrorist like they are saying,” she said. “Every Palestinian in their eyes is a terrorist, armed or not.”
Richard Hecht, the IDF’s international spokesman, told The Times on Thursday that Abdulrahman “was not a child”, and claimed he was 17 years old. In fact his official ID shows his date of birth as July 26, 2006 – three weeks shy of his 17th birthday.
Even at 17, he would have been legally a child under Israeli civilian and military law as well as under international law.
Lieutenant Colonel Hecht then pointed The Times to social media posts by Islamic Jihad claiming him as a fighter. It is commonplace for Palestinian militant groups to claim any male casualty as a martyr, to bolster perceptions of their strength. When Islamic Jihad posted photographs of its claimed martyrs, Abdulrahman was the only one not pictured with a firearm.
Colonel Hecht, asked if Abdulrahman had been armed, replied “Yes”. When asked with what, he answered: “An automatic rifle.”
The Times then tracked down the CCTV images from a shop next to the hospital that appears to show otherwise, corroborating the family and witness accounts. It is believed the hospital has its own CCTV, though any video from that is yet to be made public.Article link: todayspaper.theaustralian.com.au/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=bc8eee69-1060-449f-856c-78a6bd38695c
Article source: The Australian / The Times | Catherine Philp | 11.7.23