Israeli military probes shooting of Palestinian in the back

In this Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 file photo, Palestinians pray by the body of Mohammed Habali 22, during his funeral in the Tulkarem refugee camp near the West Bank city of Tulkarem. (AP)
Updated 09 December 2018
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Israeli military probes shooting of Palestinian in the back

  • The security-camera video shows Mohammed Habali walking in an alleyway holding a stick when he is shot from behind

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military on Sunday said it has opened an investigation into the death of a 22-year-old Palestinian man in the West Bank after a video surfaced appearing to show him being shot in the back.
The security-camera video, obtained from a local restaurant in the town of Tulkarem, shows Mohammed Habali walking in an alleyway holding a stick when he is shot from behind and falls down on his face.
Several other young males are standing nearby or walking away in the same direction — sometimes looking back — apparently to keep their distance from Israeli troops. No soldiers are seen in the video.
In a statement Sunday, the military confirmed that it was conducting an “operational activity” in Tulkarem last week when dozens of Palestinians began hurling stones at the soldiers. It gave no further details on the operation, but the military often carries out arrest raids in the West Bank.
The army said that soldiers responded to the stone throwers with “riot dispersal means” and live fire.
It said military police are now investigating the shooting. It gave no details on when the probe would be completed.
In Gaza, Israeli forces deployed along the volatile border have fired live rounds at rock-throwing Palestinian protesters ever since demonstrations against Israel’s long-running blockade of Gaza began in March. And for eight months, Israeli snipers have targeted one part of the body more than any other — the legs. The Israeli Army says it is responding to weekly assaults on its frontier by Palestinians armed with stones, grenades and firebombs. The military says it opens fire only as a last resort, and considers firing at the lower limbs an act of restraint. Still, 175 Palestinians have been shot to death, according to an Associated Press count. And the number of wounded has reached colossal proportions. Of the 10,511 protesters treated at hospitals and field clinics in Gaza so far, at least 6,392, or roughly 60 percent, have been struck in the lower limbs, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. At least 5,884 of those casualties were hit by live ammunition; others have been hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters. The upsurge in violence has left a visible mark on Gaza that will likely remain for decades to come. It is now common to see young men walking through dilapidated streets on crutches. Most have legs bandaged or fitted with a metal frame called a fixator, which uses pins or screws that are inserted into fractured bones to help stabilize them. The wounded can often be seen gathering at a treatment clinic run by the Paris-based medical charity Doctors Without Borders in Gaza City, where Associated Press photographer Felipe Dana took portraits of some of them. Some of those he photographed acknowledged throwing stones toward Israeli troops during the demonstrations. One said he had hurled a firebomb. But others said they were unarmed bystanders; one paramedic said he was helping rescue the wounded, while another man said he was waving a Palestinian flag and another said he was selling coffee and tea. International human rights groups have said the military’s open-fire rules are unlawful because they allow the use of potentially lethal force in situations where soldiers’ lives are not in immediate danger. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, rejected international criticism that Israel’s response has been excessive. Instead, he said that firing at people’s legs was a sign of restraint. Doctors Without Borders said this month that the huge number of patients was overwhelming Gaza’s health care system, which has already been severely weekend by a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt that has fueled economic stagnation and rampant unemployment, and devastated water and electricity supplies. The Paris-based aid group said the majority of the 3,117 patients it has treated have been shot in the legs, and many will need follow-up surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation. “These are complex and serious injuries that do not quickly heal,” the group said. “Their severity and the lack of appropriate treatment in Gaza’s crippled health system means that infection is a high risk, especially for patients with open fractures.” “The consequences of these wounds ... will be lifelong disability for many,” the aid group said. “And if infections are not tackled, then the results could be amputation or even death.” Gaza’s Health Ministry says it has carried out 94 amputations since the protests began, 82 of them involving lower limbs.


Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

Updated 13 min 3 sec ago
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Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

  • Mnuchin confident of raising the first $4 billion soon

MANAMA: Jared Kushner’s “workshop” aimed at securing economic prosperity for Palestine closed with optimistic forecasts from President Donald Trump’s special adviser that it could be the basis for a forthcoming political deal with Israel.

Kushner told journalists at a post-event briefing: “I think that people are all leaving very energized, very pleasantly surprised at how many like-minded people they see. It is a solvable problem economically, and the reason why we thought it was important to lay out the economic vision before we lay out the political vision is because we feel we need people to see what the future can look like.

“The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true. We want to show them that this is the plan, this is what can happen if there is a peace deal.”

The next stage, before a political deal is attempted, will be to get feedback from the event and agree to commitments for the $50 billion package for Palestine and other regional economies.

“I think you need $50 billion to really do this the right way, to get a paradigm shift,” Kushner added.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “I could not be happier how this has gone,” adding that he was “highly confident we will soon have the first $4 billion. It’s going to be like a hot initial public offering.”

Most of the attendees at the event in Manama, Bahrain, gave Kushner’s economic proposals a serious hearing and agreed it was a useful exercise. Mohammed Al-Shaikh, Saudi minister of state, said: “Can it be done? Yes it can, because it was done before. In the mid-1990s to about the year 2000 there was a global coordinated effort by the US and other countries. I was at the World Bank at the time. I saw it. If we could do it then with significantly less money we can do it again.”

Others warned, however, that there was still a long way to go on the political aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and Middle East peace envoy, said a political deal was essential.

“This is an economic plan that, if it is implemented, is going to do enormous good for the Palestinian people. But it isn’t a substitute for the politics. There will be no economic peace. There will be a peace that will be a political component and an economic component. The economy can help the politics and the politics is necessary for the economy to flourish.

“The politics has got to be right in this sense as well. The obvious sense people talk about is how do you negotiate the contours of the boundaries of a Palestinian state in a two state solution,” Blair said.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, highlighted the work the fund has done in conflict situations. “We had an exceptional result in Rwanda, and a good economic outcome in Mozambique,” she said. But she contrasted this with disappointing results in other African conflicts.

Lagarde said that the aim of the economic plan should be to create jobs. “The focus should be on job-intensive industries, like agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.”

Willem Buiter, special economic adviser to US banking giant Citi, said there were obstacles to the Kushner plan succeeding. “Necessary conditions for any progress are peace, safety and security. And there must be high-quality governance and the rule of law in Palestine,” he said.

He also suggested external funding should be in the form of grants or equity, rather than loans. “We should not burden a country trying to escape from its past with high debts,” he added.

Some attendees warned of the risks to investor funds in the current political situation in the Middle East. 

But Khalid Al-Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “Risk is not new to the region. We’ve tackled it for the past 30 to 40 years, but that has not stopped investment flowing in.

“Investors trade risk for return, and the Middle East has learned to cope with risk and conflict. There are pockets where the risk is high and Palestine is one of them. But I remain positive. The return in the region is higher to compensate for the risk,” he added.

At a session of regional finance ministers, Mohammed Al-Jadaan of Saudi Arabia said: “The region is in desperate need of prosperity and hope. There is a way forward, but you need political commitment.”

UAE Finance Minister Obaid Al-Tayer added: “We are decoupling politics from economics. If it’s the only initiative on the table we should all give it a chance.”