Headlines, Human Rights, Middle East & North Africa

Israelis Keep the Trigger Tight

Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH, Jun 24 2010 (IPS) - “Where is my daddy? Why is he not coming home? I want my daddy,” sobs seven- year-old Yasmin, her big blue eyes filling with tears. She wakes up crying every night.

The family Ziad Julani left behind - Moira with her three daughters; Hannah 17, Mirage, 15, and Yasmin 7. Credit: Mel Frykberg/IPS

The family Ziad Julani left behind - Moira with her three daughters; Hannah 17, Mirage, 15, and Yasmin 7. Credit: Mel Frykberg/IPS

“My life only began when I met him. I will never meet such a wonderful man again,” Yasmin’s mother Moira Julani tells IPS.

While it is just another statistic for the Israelis, another Palestinian family has been torn apart. U.S. citizens, 17-year-old Hannah, 15-year-old Mirage and seven-year-old Yasmin are now fatherless. Former Texan Moira, nee Reynolds, who left the U.S. 17 years ago to start a new life with her husband in Jerusalem, has lost her soul mate.

Two weeks ago 41-year-old Ziad Julani from East Jerusalem was shot a number of times at close range in the head and abdomen by Israeli special forces as he lay wounded on his stomach on the ground. An ambulance took the critically injured man to hospital but he died shortly afterwards.

Israeli soldiers accused Ziad of deliberately trying to run over a couple of soldiers as they walked in the street.

Eyewitnesses, however, say that Julani’s car accidentally swerved slightly when his windscreen was hit by a rock, after he unknowingly drove into the middle of a clash between stone-throwing Palestinian youngsters and Israeli soldiers.

Two soldiers, who were slightly injured, and two of their comrades opened fire on Julani’s car, wounding him in the shoulder. The panicked Julani drove a short distance further until he reached a dead-end road.

According to testimony compiled by the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights, Julani then got out of his car. He was shot again several times by four special forces police who had pursued him, before he collapsed to the ground.

One of the policemen then came up and shot the critically wounded man again at close range in both sides of the head and in the abdomen before kicking him.

Witnesses who tried to help Julani were beaten back with clubs, with one requiring 20 stitches to his head. Other bystanders were wounded, including a five-year-old girl, when police and soldiers sprayed onlookers with rubber- coated steel bullets.

The Israeli authorities accused Ziad of attempting to perpetrate a “terrorist attack” and of having a “criminal record”.

“Ziad was roughed up about a month ago by Israeli soldiers as he tried to pray at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. He was held temporarily for a couple of hours, then released, and no charges were laid. Maybe one of these soldiers had a grudge against my husband,” Julani tells IPS.

“He was not involved in politics and was not affiliated with any political group. He was a peaceful man with a cosmopolitan background who had lived in Switzerland as a child and studied pharmaceuticals in the U.S.

“On the morning he was killed he had gone to pray at Al-Aqsa and had planned to later take the family out on a trip to the Dead Sea.”

Occupied East Jerusalem has become a boiling cauldron of anger and resentment as Israel’s Judaisation of the eastern part of the city increasingly involves the destruction of Palestinian homes, and throwing Palestinian families on to the street to make way for illegal Israeli settlers.

In the rising tension several Palestinians have carried out attacks on Israelis in West Jerusalem using vehicles and bulldozers, killing several and wounding others.

The Israeli authorities have used these incidents to assert “self-defence” in the increasing numbers of cases where unarmed Palestinians have been shot dead by security forces at close range despite presenting no threat.

At the beginning of the year a media blackout was imposed on the house arrest of Israeli journalist Anat Kamm after she secretly copied Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) documents while she was doing her military service.

The documents outlined how Israeli hit squads were assassinating Palestinian activists, some of them unarmed, instead of arresting them, in flagrant violation of an Israeli high court ruling. Kamm has been accused of treason.

IPS has reported a number of cases in which young Palestinian men in the West Bank died after they were shot in the back and in the head. The IDF initially claimed they had used non-lethal ammunition, and had acted in “self- defence” after they were “attacked”.

Later, however, IDF investigations conceded that live fire was used and that in some of the cases the soldiers involved had used “excessive force”.

Turkish autopsies carried out on the nine activists shot dead on the Mavi Marmara as it tried to deliver aid to Gaza several weeks ago also indicate that a number of the dead were shot several times in the head at close range as part of Israel’s “confirm kill” policy.

The Israeli security forces have become accustomed to impunity when it comes to the killing of Palestinians under dubious circumstances.

“We are asking for an independent investigation into my husband’s killing. We don’t want the Israeli security forces investigating themselves,” says Julani.

Since the shooting of Ziad Israeli security officials have arrested witnesses who filmed the killing and confiscated their recording equipment. Street camera footage has been removed.

 
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