14 Palestinians killed in the first two weeks of 2023, Palestinians denounce 'Israel's impunity'

14 Palestinians killed in the first two weeks of 2023, Palestinians denounce 'Israel's impunity'
6 min read
West Bank
17 January, 2023
"Has any Israeli official been held accountable?” asked Mansour. "Any Israeli general? Any Israeli soldier? Any Israeli settler?" asked Palestine's ambassador at the UN on Thursday.
Between Saturday and Monday, Israeli forces killed two young Palestinians in Jenin in the northern West Bank, one Palestinian father of four near Ramallah in the centre and one Palestinian teenager in Bethlehem in the south. [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

Hundreds of Palestinians in the refugee camp of Dheisheh in Bethlehem, south of the West Bank, mourned on Monday 14-year-old Omar Al-Khmour who was killed by Israeli forces earlier the same day.

Al-Khmour is the third young Palestinian killed in Dheisheh in one month. Earlier in January, Israeli forces killed 15-year-old Adam Ayyad during a military raid on the refugee camp. In December, Israeli forces killed 26-year-old Omar Manaa in another raid on Dheisheh.

"The occupation forces raided Dheisheh early in the morning to arrest another Palestinian and an international solidarity activist who was staying in the camp," a friend of Al-Khmour and resident of Dheisheh, who asked not to be named, said to The New Arab.

"The youth confronted the soldiers with stones, chasing them all the way to the main road outside of the camp and Omar was among them," said the friend.

"[Israeli] soldiers opened fire on their way out and wounded Omar in the head, and he was taken to the Beit Jala public hospital where he was pronounced dead less than an hour late," said the friend, speaking from the hospital where the teenager's body was being prepared for burial.

"Omar was a loving son, always joyful and caring," his mother told Palestinian media. "The night before he was killed he was with his friends at home, listening to music and having fun."

"He used to tell me that he doesn't want me to cry if he gets killed in a raid, and I used to tell him not to speak like that because I have enough anguish with his brother being in the occupation's jail," she added.

Al-Khmour's friends found a hand-written letter on a school notebook paper in his pocket, in the same way as 15-year-old Adam Ayyad, killed two weeks ago. In it, the teenager urged Palestinians "to be aware that we live under occupation, to continue the struggle, and not to leave my mother alone."

Al-Khmour is the 14th Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of the year.

On Sunday, Israeli soldiers killed a 45-year-old father of four, Ahmed Kahala, from the village of Rammoun east of Ramallah in the centre of the West Bank.

Kahala was driving to work with his 20-year-old son when he was stopped at an Israeli checkpoint near the town of Silwad, where he was killed. In his village of Rammoun, a large banner with his picture hung above his house, where mourners came to support the family.

"Ahmed was a good person, kind to all people and he liked to help those in need without saying anything," his older brother said to TNA, sitting in the house's courtyard, between mourners.

Palestinian killed / Qassam Muaddi
Ahmad Kahaleh was killed at an Israeli checkpoint on his way to work on Sunday.
[Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

"He worked at a construction site in the town of Deir Al-Sudan, where he was driving with his son who worked with him," said the brother.

"He was a hard-working man who put his family ahead of anything, and never got in trouble," the brother added, breaking into tears while hugging his child niece, the daughter of his deceased brother.

"When we saw that there was a checkpoint ahead, near Silwad, my father said that we should drive back and look for another way, but I told him that it wasn't necessary because we had enough time," his son, who asked not to be photographed, told TNA.

"The occupation soldiers were yelling something that we didn't understand, then they threw a tear gas canister that hit our car, and my father came down of the car and began to yell at the soldiers asking why they had done that," said the son.

"Soldiers came at us and opened the door to my side before one soldier shot pepper spray at my face, and from that moment I didn't see anything," he went on. "They dragged me out of the car as my father continued to argue with them, and then I heard a shot but I didn't think it was at my father."

"I remained without sight nearby between the soldiers, until one of them came and asked me who the man in the car was, and when I replied that he was my father he told me that he was dead," the son added, whom Israeli soldiers took to a nearby road from where Palestinians drove him to a medical centre in the town of Silwad for treatment.

Palestinians mourning / Qassam Muaddi
Ahmad Kahaleh was the father of two sons and two daughters, the eldest, 20 years old, witnessed his killing, and the youngest is 5 years old [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

Israeli media reported that the Israeli army announced a first version of events, saying that Ahmed Kahala was killed while trying to stab a soldier, and then changed the narrative to say that he had tried to snatch a soldier's rifle.

Earlier on Saturday, Israeli forces killed 24-year-old Ezedin Hamamrh and 23-year-old Amjad Khaliliyeh in the village of Jabaa, near Jenin, north of the occupied West Bank.

Local residents told Palestinian media that the two young men were killed after Israeli forces opened fire at a car they were driving. Israeli media quoted the Israeli army saying that its soldiers responded to fire from Palestinian fighters at the entrance of the town.

The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad - PIJ mourned Hamamreh and Khaliliyeh as its members in a statement.

Also on Saturday, 19-year-old Yazan Jaabari died of his wounds caused by Israeli forces last week, during an Israeli raid in the village of Kufr Dan, where another two Palestinian workers were wounded by Israeli fire.

On Thursday, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, reaffirmed the UN's statement in October that 2022 was one of the deadliest years for Palestinians. "We condemn all unlawful killings and acts by extremists, there is no justification for terrorism," said Guerres during a UN Security Council on the rule of law.

"At the same time, settlement expansion by Israel and home demolitions and evictions are driving anger and despair," added the UN official, who stressed that "the rule of law is at the heart of achieving a just and comprehensive peace".

In his intervention at the UNSC meeting, Palestine's ambassador to the UN, Riyadh Mansour pointed out, "The rule of law cannot coexist with impunity."

"Has any Israeli official been held accountable?" asked Mansour. "Any Israeli general? Any Israeli soldier? Any Israeli settler?"

In 2022, Israeli forces killed more than 226 Palestinians, including 53 during an 11-day-long bombing of the Gaza Strip, while the rest were killed by Israeli fire, in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. Some 36 of them were children.