Palestinians push back against Israeli police claims that 22-year-old Ammar Mufleh Adili was shot dead in self-defence, saying there is no justification.
A sidewalk memorial with a Palestinian flag and a mourning notice pays tribute to 22-year-old Palestinian Ammar Mufleh Adili whose death at the hands of an Israeli border police officer — four pistol shots from close range — was captured on widely shared video.
A day after the shooting in the occupied West Bank town of Huwara on Friday, Palestinians pushed back against Israeli police claims that Ammar Mufleh Adili was shot in self-defence after he attacked Israelis, including a border policeman, and resisted arrest.
They said the officer killed Adili without justification, and that Israeli security forces prevented Palestinian medics from trying to save the gravely wounded man as he lay on the sidewalk of a busy thoroughfare.
The 38-second video begins with a tussle between the border police officer and three Palestinians, including Adili, on the sidewalk as traffic rushes by. The officer pulls Adili away in a chokehold and they exchange blows after Adili frees himself.
Adili tries to grab the officer's assault rifle, which drops to the ground behind the officer, out of Adili's immediate reach. The officer then pulls his pistol and fires four shots as an unarmed Adili drops to the ground.
Immediately after Friday’s fatal shooting, police alleged that Adili had carried a knife and tried to attack two Israelis in a car and then tried to break into the locked vehicle with a rock.
Police said the driver shot and wounded Adili, who then charged a group of border policemen, stabbing one in the face. The border police officer tried to arrest Adili, who resisted and tried to grab the officer's weapon, police said. The officer who shot him was not injured.
The mayor of Huwara Moein Dmeidy and others on Saturday cited second-hand accounts that there had been an altercation between Adili and an Israeli motorist after a car accident, but Associated Press journalists were unable to find witnesses to the events that led up to the shooting.
Dmeidy said the officer had no justification to kill Adili after he had already overpowered him. Adili was “killed in cold blood,” said the mayor, who arrived at the scene moments after the shooting.
In a second video, Adili is seen moving and rolling over on the ground after being shot, and it's not clear at what point he died.
Dmeidy said a Palestinian ambulance arrived minutes after the shooting, but that security forces prevented the medics from administering aid.
Dmeidy said Israel has not handed over Adili's body for burial.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the shooting was tantamount to an execution meant to escalate already spiralling violence in the territory.
Horrified by today’s killing of a Palestinian man, Ammar Mifleh, during a scuffle with an Israeli soldier near Huwarra in the o. West Bank. My heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family. Such incidents must be fully & promptly investigated, & those responsible held accountable.— Tor Wennesland (@TWennesland) December 2, 2022
Shops closed in protest
On Saturday, shops along Huwara's main road were shuttered in protest over the shooting.
At the makeshift memorial marking the spot where Adili died, a poster with a picture of the young man leans against a Palestinian flag. The poster says the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mourns its son “who was killed at the hands of the Zionist occupation.”
Tor Wennesland, the special UN envoy to the Middle East peace process, wrote on Twitter that he was “horrified” by the shooting and sent “heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family”. He called for a thorough investigation and said those responsible must be held accountable.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded on Twitter, saying that the shooting occurred as part of a "terror attack, in which an Israeli policeman was stabbed in his face and the life of another police officer was threatened".
Israel’s incoming national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, praised the soldier who killed Adili, calling the killing "precise, swift and rigorous", and the shooter a "hero".
"Precise action, you really fulfilled the honour of all of us and did what was assigned to you," Middle East Eye reported Ben Gvir as telling the the shooter on Saturday.
The deadliest year for Palestinians
The video of Adili’s final moments was a rare documentation of just one of the increasingly common violent incidents involving Israeli security forces and Palestinians.
Increased Israeli military raids into the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem have made 2022 the deadliest year for Palestinians since the end of the second Intifada in 2005.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, released a statement on Saturday saying he was “greatly concerned about the increasing level of violence in the occupied West Bank”.
“During the last days alone, 10 Palestinians have been killed by ISF (Israeli Security Forces). Yesterday’s tragic killing of a Palestinian man, Ammar Mifleh, by a member of the ISF (Israeli Security Forces) was the latest example,” Borrell said.
“Such unacceptable facts must be investigated and there must be full accountability. Under international law, lethal force is only justified in situations in which there exists a serious and imminent threat to life,” he said.
Further escalation is likely, as the most right-wing government in Israel’s history is poised to be installed in the coming weeks, with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returning to power.
More than 140 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces this year. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting Israeli army raids and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.
The Israeli military says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks, but the Palestinians say the raids entrench Israel’s open-ended occupation. A recent wave of Palestinian attacks against Israeli targets killed an additional nine people.