Israel justifies fatal checkpoint shooting of Palestinian women as video causes outcry

Israel justifies fatal checkpoint shooting of Palestinian women as video causes outcry
The shooting of a Palestinian women at Qalandia checkpoint has drawn criticism from rights groups.
3 min read
19 September, 2019
Israeli forces take security measures after a Palestinian woman, 50, was shot [Anadolu/Getty]

Israeli police justified the killing Thursday of a Palestinian women at a checkpoint near Jerusalem, saying soldiers were in "immediate danger" when they shot and killed the woman carrying a knife.

A video of the shooting was widely circulated on social media and has raised concerns about excessive force on the side of the Israelis.

The video of the shooting early Wednesday appears to show a private security guard firing at the woman from several meters away at the Qalandia checkpoint, just outside Jerusalem.

The woman drops what appears to be a knife before falling to the ground. Three other armed guards move in and one of them kicks the knife away. The woman crawls a short distance before lying motionless.

Palestinians have carried out dozens of stabbing attacks against Israeli security forces and civilians in recent years. But human rights groups say Israeli forces often use excessive force, opening fire when suspects could have been disarmed and detained through non-lethal means.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the woman was armed with a knife and walking in an area reserved for vehicles.

Palestinians queue at Qalandia checkpoint after a women was shot by Israeli soldiers [Anadolu/Getty]

"She shouldn't have been there in the first place, which shows clearly that she had intentions of carrying out an attack," he said.

The security guards "made a decision at a time when they were in immediate danger and they opened fire according to the danger, the life-threatening situation."

The woman has not been identified. Rosenfeld said she was not carrying an ID, which is required for those passing through the checkpoint on the main road from Ramallah, the occupied West Bank city where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered, to Jerusalem.

She was taken to a hospital for treatment and later died of her wounds, police said. In its initial statement after the attack, the police said the woman had been shot in the leg.

Mohammed Jaradat, who said he witnessed the shooting as he was waiting in a vehicle at the checkpoint, said the woman approached the security guards as they were inspecting a bus.

He said the guards shouted at her in Arabic to go back but the woman froze in place, and then one of the guards shot her.

"He could have easily arrested her," he said.

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said it was still investigating the incident, but that it appeared to resemble past instances in which Israel used excessive force.

The Palestine Brief: Israel gives notorious West Bank checkpoint 'Orwellian makeover' with face-recognition tech

"What is clear is that such an incident should not have ended with a fatality," B'Tselem spokesman Amit Gilutz told The Associated Press.

"In many similar past incidents, in which Palestinians have either attempted to stab Israelis or it was claimed they made such attempts, lethal force was used against them when there was no justification for it, and as a first, go-to means."

The incident took place the day after a tight Israeli general election saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger Benny Gantz neck-and-neck in the race to lead negotiations on forming a new government.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab