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Palestine & Israel

A brutal occupation : Palestinian shepherd shot in the neck after having his home demolished

Harun Abu Aram had his house demolished, was then forced to live in a cave, and is now paralysed after being shot in the neck by the Israeli military.

Harun Abu Aram had his house demolished, was then forced to live in a cave, and is now paralysed after being shot in the neck by the Israeli military. Harun Abu Aram had his house demolished, was then forced to live in a cave, and is now paralysed after being shot in the neck by the Israeli military.

Harun Abu Aram is only 24 years old, but this young Palestinian is facing living the rest of his life paralysed from the neck down. He is currently hospitalised and in critical condition following being shot in the neck by Israeli military forces at point blank range last week.

At the time of the shooting, Abu Aram was assisting his neighbour to construct a home in the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank, an area where Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation. Israeli soldiers arrived to prevent the home being constructed, and began to confiscate the construction equipment. Abu Aram tried to retrieve a generator from the soldiers and was shot from a close distance.

A spokesperson for the Israeli military explained that the shooting took place during “massive stone-throwing” against Israeli troops by a crowd of over 150 Palestinians. However, through witness accounts and video documentation, it is clear that only a few Palestinians were present, and there is no indication that stone-throwing occurred.

Renowned Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has referred to the incident as “armed robbery that deteriorated into a murder attempt”. A graphic video of the incident that circulated online shows the incident quite clearly. According to witnesses, the soldiers also fired gunshots towards a car which was attempting to remove the injured Abu Aram from the location.

Just over a month previously Harun Abu Aram suffered another traumatic incident. His family home was demolished by the Israeli military on November 25th, and since then the family have been living in a nearby cave.

These tragic incidents are taking place in the context of rampant violence by Israeli settlers in the West Bank against Palestinians and police officers, which has received no response from the Israeli government and which the Israeli military and police have made virtually no attempts to control.

Alongside this, Israeli authorities impose oppressive bureaucratic processes on Palestinians with the aim of expelling communities from their lands. Palestinian building requests in these areas under Israeli military occupation are systematically denied by the Israeli authorities, creating a situation in which many Palestinians have no legal path to build on their land.

The remains of Harun’s house after it was demolished by the Israeli authorities in November 2020. Photo : Ori Givati The remains of Harun’s house after it was demolished by the Israeli authorities in November 2020. Photo : Ori Givati

2020 saw an increase in home demolitions, with the highest number in five years of demolitions of Palestinian homes and infrastructure being carried out, in spite of the unprecedented health and financial crisis brought on by COVID-19.

These demolitions are part of an Israeli policy designed to create a hostile environment for Palestinians in the West Bank, aimed at forcing them out of what is designated as ‘area C’, a Palestinian area under full Israeli military control, and then taking over their land.

Alongside the threat of home demolitions, Palestinians living in the nearby area known as Masafer Yatta, are currently waiting for a ruling from the Israeli High Court following the establishment of an IDF firing zone on their lands.

This ruling may approve the forcible transfer of over 1,000 residents whose homes, schools, and clinics sit on lands declared “Firing Zone 918.” On October 19th, 2020, diplomats from the European Union, including Ireland, visited Masafer Yatta and issued a statement condemning demolitions and calling on Israel not to displace the communities.

Our organisation, Breaking the Silence, brings together former Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied territories. We speak out about what we have seen, exposing the daily reality of our brutal military occupation of Palestinian land. To date we have collected over a thousand testimonies from soldiers who chosen to break their silence.

We have a long history of partnership with Trócaire. We are proud that they help fund our work, and join together with us in campaigning for an end to Israel’s occupation. With their support, we continue to speak out, expose these injustices, and struggle for a more just and peaceful future.

Ori Givati, Advocacy Director with Breaking the Silence

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