Hadil: Palestinian teenager fatally shot at Shuhada Checkpoint

Hadil (18) was shot dead by Israeli forces at Shuhada checkpoint in occupied Hebron on tuesday morning (22.09.15). Hadil was a member of a Palestinian family from the H1 region of Hebron, and was in her first year as a student at Hebron University.

It was as she was passing through one of the many checkpoints of occupation in H2 Hebron – checkpoints that divide one Palestinian neighborhood from another – that Hadil was so brutally killed.

Fawaz abu Aisheh (34), a resident of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood reached via the checkpoint, was present, attempting to usher children from the scene, while translating the orders shouted in Hebrew by the Israeli soldiers at Hadil.

He explained “They were screaming at her, ´Move back! Move Back!´ I knew she couldn´t understand so I intervened in Arabic […]She was terrified […]She listened to me immediately when first I spoke with her, but they moved me away and continued to scream at her in Hebrew which she obviously didn´t understand.”

Numerous reports state that Hadil ‘attempted to stab a soldier’. The alleged attempted stabbing is refuted by all eye witnesses, but the presence of a knife appears to be disputed.

Fawaz said, “She was covered completely, there was no knife showing at any time. Even if she did have a knife he could have arrested her so easily. I was there… I could have talked to her, she cooperated with me in that very first moment. I asked her to move, and she moved. But after that I begged him to let me talk to her, but they took me away from her, and started pointing their weapons at me. After they shot her more, and more soldiers arrived, there were still 3 or 4 kids a few meters from the checkpoint, so I moved the kids away. ”

Other eyewitnesses from human rights organizations report that amongst the shouting one soldier opened fire, shooting her in the leg, before other soldiers encircled her and joined in the fatal shooting. A Palestinian ambulance soon arrived, yet medics were prevented from reaching Hadil. Hadil was left to bleed on the pavement for half an hour before Israeli soldiers would allow her to be taken away by the Israeli ambulance that later arrived. A video shot through the turnstile at the checkpoint shows Israeli settlers, whose residence in the Palestinian city of Hebron is illegal under international law, gawping and smirking at Hadil’s body, photographing her slowly dying on the ground, before she was dragged by her feet across the floor by Israeli soldiers.

A pool of her blood was left on the concrete ground of the checkpoint all day. Those forced to walk through the checkpoint – to get to school, work or home – had no choice but to walk through it.

CPT condemns this horrific and fatal act of violence.

How can this act of violence be understood?  Does it need to be ‘understood’? An eyewitness told CPT that the Israeli soldier showed real fear at the checkpoint confrontation with Hadil.  Perhaps it was his indoctrination into the racism intrinsic to the militarism of Israel that precipitated this fear – a fear and racism that marks all Palestinians, particularly Palestinians in burqas, as ‘Others’, as ‘security threats’, rather than humans. When CPT later arrived on the scene, CPTers witnessed the deployment of a bomb-disposal robot to destroy Hadil’s bag. There was no bomb.

Regardless of ‘understanding’ this act, the awful truth remains; an eighteen year old girl has been tragically killed by an occupying army in her home city.

It appears that the presence of her burqa at the checkpoint reduced her humanity to nothing but a ‘suspect’ – a ‘terrorist’ – and hence able to be treated, as is clear in the above video, as nothing more than ‘rubbish’ to be removed from the streets. We mourn with Hadil’s family that her life was so brutally taken away as a result of the racism, hatred, fear and violence inherent to this occupation.

In this context of horrific violence, with Hadil’s life and body treated, almost as though she herself was a bomb to be ‘disposed of’, the words of Palestinian writer, lawyer and activist, Raja Shehada, ring viscerally true:

“We the Palestinians are terrorists and therefore anything they do to us is legitimate.  We are treated as [those] to whom the laws of the rest of humanity do not apply… denigrat[ing]a human being into a mere object, a mere body, and a toy to which things can be done?  So with the Palestinians, […]now dubbed terrorists,  they can be killed, disposed of like flies by the army’s big machines without a second thought.”

We continue to pray, hope and act for change of this fatal reality.

For a just peace for all Palestinians so violently denied their humanity by this dehumanizing and brutal occupation.

For Hadil’s family.

For Hadil.

The day after Hadil was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers, the Hebron community marched to her funeral in public lamentation.