by Wajdi al-Ramahi that his 14-year-old son Wajih was the victim of a "cold-blooded murder" at the hands of Israeli "soldiers [who] wanted to pass the time and shot at him," Ha'aretz
today publishes a more balanced report examining the contradictory claims regarding the boy's killing in the Jalazun refugee camp Saturday.
Wajdi's claims that the soldiers shot his son "as if he were a bird" hark back to Chris Hedges' 2001 debunked incendiary charge
that Israeli soldiers "entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport." It is Amira Hass, a longtime critic of Israel, who surprisingly brings more balance to the story today describing
the conflicting accounts about Wajih's activities before his was killed ("Accounts of Palestinian teen's death differ
"). While his friends claim he was playing soccer before his death, eyewitness describes groups of children throwing stones at soldiers.
His friends from the refugee camp claimed that there were no clashes between children and IDF soldiers at the time al-Ramahi was shot, though eyewitnesses told Haaretz, Btselem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that stones were being thrown at soldiers. IDF officials stated that the stone throwing began only after soldiers positioned themselves in an ambush meant to catch stone throwers. . . .
An eyewitness who asked to remain nameless stated that he noticed two groups of children throwing stones from an orchard that spans the distance between an UNRWA school and a group of houses outside of the camp. . . .
Another eyewitness stated that he heard maybe 20 gun shots, which were not preceded by less lethal measures, such as tear gas or rubber-coated bullets, after which he noticed the group of children coming out of the small olive grove while carrying something in their hands. . . .
Family of 'Peace'
In a separate noteworthy element about the article, Hass provides an inaccurate and incomplete picture of the al-Ramahi family background. She writes:
A relative, Ayman al-Ramahi, stated that their family is from the ruined village of al Mozriyah, near Lod, and that the family is known to support Fatah and the Palestinian authority. We all support the Oslo agreements, peace. But what kind of peace is this?
Wajih al-Ramahiis father and grandfather have served time in prison due to their activism with Fatah. His father was in prison from 1977 to 1992. The IDF demolished two of the familys houses, and sealed up two others. Ayman al-Ramahi also stated that between 2000 and 2008, two other members of the al-Rahimi family were killed by IDF gunfire, Mohammed Ahmed, 14-years-old, and Mohammed Jamal, 21-years-old. Wajihs older brother is currently in custody and awaiting trial, and two of his cousins are also currently being held in Israeli jails.
If the family supports peace, as relative Ayman says, they sure have a unique way of expressing it. Wajih's brothers Mohammed Ahmed, 14, and Mohammed Jamal, 21, were not killed while peacefully playing soccer, picked off "like birds" by cold-blooded Israeli murderers seeking to "pass time." (Note: Other than Hass' report, we find no additional confirmation of the fact that the other two al-Ramahi casualties are Wajih's brothers.)
As was widely reported in Western media, 21-year-old Mohammed Jamal was killed Oct. 15, 2008 as he was attacking Israeli soldiers. As Isabel Kershner reported for the International Herald Tribune (Oct. 17, 2008):
Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian man during a clash in the West Bank before dawn Thursday, the third killing in three days, Palestinian officials said. The Israeli Army asserted that all three were holding or about to throw firebombs when they were shot. . .
On Wednesday, another Palestinian, Muhammad Ramahi, 21, died from wounds sustained in a clash with Israeli troops at the Jalazoun refugee camp that abuts Ramallah.
Similarly, the Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 17, 2008 (Ashraf Khalil and Maher Abukhater):
The incidents on Tuesday and Wednesday occurred near the Israeli settlement of Beit El, outside Ramallah and near the Palestinian refugee camp of Jalazoun. In each case, the Israelis say that the Palestinians were wielding lighted firebombs, while Palestinians assert that they were only throwing rocks. . .
On Wednesday, camp residents staged a protest that turned violent after Zeid's funeral. The soldiers opened fire again, fatally injuring Mahmoud Ramahi, 22.
As for the younger Mohammed, just 14, he too was killed as he was attacking an Israeli -- apparently a civilian, not a soldier. Contrary to Hass' report, he was killed during the Oslo years, in 1995, long before the 2000 to 2008 period of heightened Intifada violence. According to the Associated Press ("Report: Settler Kills Stone-throwing Palestinian Teenager," Nov. 3, 1995):
Muhamed Ramahi, 14, joined a group of youngsters hurling stones at a Jewish car driving through Jalazoun village, family members said. The driver stopped and opened fire, hitting Ramahi in the chest, they added.
If Wajih al-Ramahi was killed Saturday as he was engaged in stone-throwing, and if Hass is right that the two slain Mohammeds are his brothers, then he's the third son in his family to die while engaged in violence against Israelis.