On 1 January 2021, at approximately 14:00, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) shot Haroun Abu Aram in the neck, with live ammunition. The IOF shot Haroun from a distance of less than two meters, and obstructed medical assistance, leaving Haroun paralysed.
The 24-year-old resident of al-Rakeez village in Masafer Yatta, south of Yatta city in Hebron governorate, was shot while trying to protect his neighbour’s generator from confiscation. As Haroun receives treatment at the intensive care unit at Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, Al-Haq stresses that the IOF’s unlawful conduct demonstrates a clear intention to kill Haroun, which may amount to a war crime. Considering the complicity of the Israeli judicial system in the implementation of unlawful policies and practices as well as ensuring the continued impunity of Israeli officials involved in violating the rights of Palestinians, Al-Haq calls for an independent, thorough, and impartial investigation into the shooting and paralysing of Haroun Abu Aram, and urgently calls for the perpetrators responsible for the unlawful conduct to be held accountable.
Based on Al-Haq’s field investigation, on 1 January 2021, at around 13:30, an Israeli Civil Administration vehicle, accompanied by an Israeli military jeep, arrived at the residency of Ashraf Mahmoud Khalil Amour at al-Rakeez village. A number of the IOF raided the grotto in which Ashraf and his family live, to confiscate work tools and equipment, including a generator, which the family used earlier in the day to repair their sheepfold. Ashraf thinks that the Israeli occupying authorities were informed of the maintenance work that the family conducted, as he had spotted someone taking pictures from a distance of 200 meters at around 07:00.
For about 30 minutes, Ashraf, his family and neighbours, including Haroun, verbally objected to the confiscation of the generator, which Ashraf’s family uses to fulfil their basic household needs, as well as to satisfy and care for their livestock, especially during the winter. The IOF, however, utilised tactics of intimidation and violence during their attempt to confiscate the generator, including by hitting Haroun’s father in his right arm, while another Israeli occupying soldier knocked him to the ground.
Having seized the generator, the IOF walked about ten meters towards their vehicles. Palestinian residents, including Haroun, followed the IOF, with the hopes of retrieving the generator. The Palestinian attempts lasted a few minutes, until one of the Israeli occupying soldiers, standing close to the Israeli Civil Administration vehicle, and about two meters away from Haroun, fired a live bullet towards Haroun, injuring him in the neck. As Haroun collapsed to the ground, Haroun’s father rushed to check his son’s pulse, when he felt a puncture in his neck.
Upon Haroun’s injury, Ashraf brought a vehicle to transfer Haroun to the nearest medical clinic, to receive first aid treatment. The IOF, however, fired at the vehicle, puncturing one of its tires, damaging it and impeding the possibility of transporting the injured Haroun to receive the needed medical assistance. After the shots were fired, Palestinian residents started to gather around as the IOF withdrew from al-Rakeez village, enabling Ashraf to transfer Haroun to another vehicle, after being obstructed, by the IOF, for about ten minutes. Driving towards al-Karmel village, Ashraf saw two vehicles; an Israeli military jeep and another vehicle belonging to the Israeli Civil Administration, which Ashraf thinks were the same two vehicles that raided al-Rakeez, at the crossroads of the road leading to al-Karmel village.
Moving around them, Ashraf managed to reach al-Karmel village, where Haroun received first aid while waiting for the ambulance transferring him to Yatta Governmental Hospital. Reaching the hospital at 15:40, Haroun was then transferred, due to his critical health condition, to Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. At around 16:15, Haroun arrived at Al-Ahli Hospital, and the preliminary medical report showed that the bullet had fractured three vertebrae of his spine, paralysing Haroun from the neck down.
Footage, documenting the shooting of Haroun and the brutality of the IOF, was captured and can be watched here.
The Israeli occupying authorities designated al-Rakeez village, where Haroun’s family live, as ‘918 fire zone area,’ a closed military zone for military training. Al-Rakeez village is one of the 14 villages surrounding Yatta city, south of Hebron, which are constantly subjected to Israeli military orders that constrain the movement of their residents and denies them the right of living in dignity. By creating this coercive environment, which further includes ‘administrative demolitions,’ conducted under the pretext that the Palestinian structures, including houses, lack building permits, Israel ultimately aims to displace the indigenous Palestinian population and erase their presence.
Haroun’s family was subjected to this policy, as the Israeli occupying authorities had demolished their house on 25 November 2020, two months after its construction. According to Al-Haq’s documentation, the Haroun’s family’s home was demolished using Volvo and JCB bulldozers.
Following the attack against Haroun, the IOF spokesperson issued a statement, claiming that the Israeli occupying soldiers were involved in a routine operation to confiscate and evacuate an illegal structure. The statement further claimed that: “disruptions developed with the participation of 150 people, the [IOF] responded by dispersing demonstrations and severe violence was used against the forces. One of the Palestinians was shot in the incident and the incident is currently being investigated.” Israeli news agencies, including Channel 12 News, reported that the preliminary investigation of the attack showed that the Israeli occupying soldier had accidentally discharged his weapon.
Al-Haq’s field investigation, along with the video footage, which was intensively circulated on social media, refute the IOF’s claims. Al-Haq notes that the statement of the IOF spokesperson is misleading and contradicts the eyewitnesses’ statements of the aforementioned events, and is an obvious, yet failed, attempt to absorb public and international frustration with Israel’s long-established illegal policies and practices, by providing false ‘assurances’ that a genuine investigation will be undertaken.
The Israeli conduct of shooting an unarmed Palestinian, from a distance less than two meters, with live ammunition in his upper part of his body, failing to provide him with first aid, and further hindering and obstructing his transfer to a hospital, shows a clear intention of attempting to kill Haroun, which is a grave breach under Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a war crime, as stipulated by Article 8 of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. As such, the shooting of Haroun entails the individual criminal responsibility of the Israeli officer who committed the crime as well as that of Israeli military and civilian officials who drafted and approved Israel’s illegal rules of engagement for the use of live fire.
Al-Haq further reaffirms that Haroun was unarmed, as vividly documented by the captured footage, and was not imposing any imminent threat, which would entail using firearms. Accordingly, the IOF’s excessive use of force violates Article 3 of the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, which emphasises that the law enforcement officials should apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms, which should remain “exceptional,” and further prohibits the use of force, unless it is strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of the law enforcement officials duty.
Israel’s unlawfully-enjoyed culture of impunity, the absence of international accountability, and the complicity of Israel’s judicial system in Israel’s violations, supports and facilitates the IOF to continue violating Palestinian rights, and committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Accordingly, Al-Haq calls for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation, and for holding the Israeli soldier that shot and paralysed Haroun, their commanding officers, and anyone else responsible for the attack, accountable.
Al-Haq further reiterates the need for the International Criminal Court to immediately open an investigation into the Situation in Palestine, in order to ensure justice and accountability for Palestinian victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
 Documented by Al-Haq, demolition form No. 501/2020.