Israeli Troops’ Use of Lethal Force in the West Bank
In a shocking incident that has garnered international attention, Ameed al-Jaghoub, an unarmed Palestinian, was shot in the back of the head by Israeli troops during a raid in the occupied West Bank village of Beita. This incident has raised serious concerns about the use of lethal force by Israeli forces against unarmed Palestinians, shedding light on a broader pattern of violence and clashes in the region.
Escalating Violence in the West Bank
The West Bank has recently witnessed an alarming increase in violence, including deadly attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, growing mob violence involving Israeli settlers, and waves of lethal Israeli military raids into Palestinian cities. These incidents have contributed to escalating tensions and a cycle of violence in the region.
Ameed al-Jaghoub’s Critical Condition
Nearly two weeks after the incident, Ameed al-Jaghoub remains in critical condition in intensive care. While his family prays for a miraculous recovery, they are aware that even if he survives, he may suffer severe brain damage. Dr. Sufwan Fayyad, an intensive care specialist, described the shooting as an attempt to kill Mr. Jaghoub.
The incident occurred when Israeli troops conducted a raid in Beita on August 21 to detain a resident. According to locals, the Israeli forces believed that the detainee’s family might possess information related to a recent attack in the nearby town of Hawara, where two Israelis—a father and son—were killed at a carwash. This attack triggered a series of military detentions and intelligence gathering operations as Israeli troops searched for the suspect, who remains at large.
Violence Erupts During Raid
During the raid, residents of Beita responded with protests, throwing stones and broken debris at armored troop carriers. Witnesses reported that Israeli paramilitary border police officers exited a jeep at the top of the street where Ameed al-Jaghoub was standing among a group of young men and teenagers. As he attempted to flee the area where the troops were stationed, he was shot in the back of the head, according to witnesses and mobile phone footage.
The footage captured the horrifying moment when blood sprayed above Mr. Jaghoub as he collapsed. In the seconds before he was shot, he was seen heading towards a group trying to assist a wounded man.
Earlier, a member of the police special forces had allegedly approached another resident, Mahmoud Elian, and reportedly told him in Hebrew to convey the message to the children in the area to leave because he was there to kill. Israel’s Border Police did not respond to inquiries about this claim.
Israeli Response and Lack of Accountability
When questioned about the specific circumstances of Ameed al-Jaghoub’s shooting, the Israeli Border Police did not provide a detailed response. Instead, they stated that their troops faced a “violent riot” in Beita that posed a threat to the lives of the security forces present. They also mentioned that the level of response increased as the riot escalated and that they used .22 ammunition and live fire, with hits being identified.
This incident has prompted concerns from the international community, including the U.S. State Department, which expressed alarm at the shooting of an unarmed Palestinian civilian from behind as he walked away from an Israeli position. The State Department called for a thorough investigation and full accountability.
The Plight of Ameed al-Jaghoub’s Family
At Mr. Jaghoub’s family home, his toddler son Yanal is held by his grandfather. The family’s primary concern is the well-being of the children. Mr. Jaghoub, an electrician who often crossed military checkpoints into Israel for work, supported his family. He provided for them by earning up to five times the income available in the West Bank.
His father, Ghaleb, expressed his outrage, describing the shooting as a cruel and cowardly act. He emphasized that his son was on his way to perform a humanitarian act and was not carrying any weapons or stones. The children in the family, though young, constantly inquire about their father, unaware of the gravity of the situation.
International Response and Continuing Violence
Despite receiving calls from human rights groups and the Israeli media following the circulation of the shooting footage on social media, the family remains skeptical about whether this incident will lead to meaningful change or accountability.
The West Bank has experienced an escalation of violence since May 2021 when an Israeli settler group established the outpost of Evyatar near Beita, effectively cutting off the Palestinian village from part of its lands. The settlers built this outpost in apparent retaliation for the murder of an Israeli student, Yehuda Guetta, allegedly by a Palestinian-American from a nearby town.
It’s important to note that all settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law, a point of contention between Israel and the international community. Outposts like Evyatar, which often involve taking privately-owned Palestinian land, are also illegal under Israeli law.
In the year following Evyatar’s establishment, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians, eight of whom were from Beita, during weekly protests against the outpost. This underscores the ongoing tensions and violence in the region, which human rights advocates attribute to the use of “open fire regulations” by Israeli forces.
Sarit Michaeli, International Advocacy Officer at the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, emphasized that this incident is not an isolated case. She pointed out that it reflects a broader policy of using lethal force in the region. Under international law, the use of firearms by security forces against civilians should only occur as a measure of last resort to prevent an imminent threat of death or serious injury.
Israeli Perspective and Ongoing Conflict
Israel has consistently rejected accusations by rights groups and asserts that its forces operate to protect Israeli civilians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has referred to the situation as a “terror wave” in the West Bank, justifying the use of lethal force.
As the violence continues to escalate, at least 220 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and 33 Israelis have lost their lives since the beginning of the year. The situation remains deeply entrenched, with little resolution in sight, and the international community faces ongoing challenges in addressing the complex and deeply rooted issues at the heart of this conflict.