Thursday, December 26, 2013

In video: Brother of Gaza man killed by Israeli sniper speaks out

Published Thursday 26/12/2013 (updated) 28/12/2013 15:25
Raddad Hamad describes how he and his brother were shot.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The brother of a Palestinian man shot dead by an Israeli sniper last Friday spoke out against the killing in a video released by the Institute for Middle East Understanding on Thursday.

Raddad Hamad, 22, and his brother Odeh, 27, were collecting scrap metal and plastic on Friday, December 20 when Odeh was shot in the head by Israeli forces, killing him.

In the video, Raddad explained that the two were around a kilometer away from the Israeli border fence when his brother was suddenly hit in the head by an Israeli bullet. Raddad was shot in the hand at the same time.

Raddad stressed that the area in which they were shot is regularly frequented by Palestinians looking for bits of metal and plastic to sell.

"We go everyday to collect plastic, to earn a living."

"What crime did he commit for them to shoot him?" he added.

Raddad said that after being shot he fell into a ditch nearby, and although he called out for his brother, Odeh did not respond.

He said that he then crawled for a half hour even as Israeli forces continued shooting in his direction.

He finally managed to crawl far enough and call an ambulance, but once the ambulance arrived Israeli forces would not allow it to cross to get his brother, Raddad said.

"I said we have to get to him, he's dying. My brother is dying inside there. Odeh is dying."

"They didn't let the ambulance enter."

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said in a statement following the incident, "Israeli forces used excessive force and directly opened fire at them, although it was clear that the two civilians were collecting steels and plastics from the landfill near the border fence."

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an at the time that "Palestinians caused damage to the northern security fence" and "fired a mortar shell" into Israel, adding that they "rioted and hurled rocks at soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip, and neared the fence in an attempt to enter Israel."

On the same day, four other Palestinians were also shot near the borders of the Gaza Strip, in a major escalation of violence against Palestinian civilians.

On Tuesday, when a Palestinian sniper shot an Israeli Defense Ministry employee working at the border fence, Israel responded with air strikes against the Gaza Strip, killing 3-year-old, Hala Abu Sbeikha while she was playing in the yard of her home in al-Maghazi refugee camp, and injuring her mother and brother.

Four other Gazans were also injured in a series of Israeli attacks on that day.

Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

The "security buffer zone" extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.

According to UNOCHA, 17% of Gaza's total land area and 35% of its agricultural land were within the buffer zone as of 2010, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gazans.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.