Palestinian in critical state after being shot at close range in spat with IDF

A Palestinian man was in critical condition Friday after being shot at close range by Israeli forces during an operation to confiscate illegal Palestinian construction equipment in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills.

The Palestinian Authority’s health ministry reported that 24-year-old Haroun Abu Aram, a resident of the unrecognized village of al-Rakeez, had been hit by live fire. A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said that they “had heard of the incident and were looking into it.”

In a video from the scene, Palestinians can be seen wrestling with Israeli soldiers in an attempt to take back a generator apparently confiscated by the troops. After the scuffle escalates, a gunshot rings out off-camera. When the camera turns back on, Abu Aram is lying on the ground, apparently having been shot. It was not immediately clear what caused the shooting.

Abu Aram did not appear to be armed and the video indicated no warning shots were fired before he was shot. He was initially taken to a hospital in the local town of Yatta, the B’Tselem rights group said, adding that the bullet had hit him in the neck. When his condition deteriorated, he was taken to a larger hospital in Hebron.

According to B’Tselem, the dispute over the generator took place during an operation by Israeli forces to prevent illegal Palestinian construction in the area by confiscating construction equipment. Israeli authorities do not recognize many Palestinian settlements in the South Hebron Hills region, and regularly demolish construction they say is illegal.

Palestinians counter that Israel rarely issues permits for them to legally build in Area C. Around 200,000 Palestinians live in the zone, where the Oslo Accords grant Israel full civilian and security control — including over construction. But between 2016 and 2018, according to the rights group Bimkom, only 1.6% of Palestinian requests for permits were granted.

Abu Aram’s own house in the unrecognized village of al-Rajeez was demolished in November by Israeli authorities as part of a crackdown on illegal Palestinian construction, according to a report by B’Tselem.

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