Attacks on Palestinians have become more intense over the past two years as Israeli settlers enjoy impunity.
Issawiya, occupied East Jerusalem – During a lull in the clashes that have engulfed much of the occupied West Bank over the past few days, an eerie silence settled over the village of Issawiya – its entrances sealed off by roadblocks manned by Israeli soldiers.
The streets, empty of vehicles and people, were littered with hundreds of stones and rocks. Empty dumpsters, used as barricades by Palestinian youths, lay on their sides as Israeli riot police walked slowly up and down the village’s main road, shoving reporters out of the way at gunpoint.
Here, Palestinians have lashed out to dispute Israel’s version of events about the circumstances that led to the fatal shooting of Palestinian teenager Fadi Alloun,19, in Jerusalem on Sunday.
“The Israelis are shameless liars. Alloun never stabbed anybody. He was the one who was attacked while on his way to work in Jerusalem at a bakery,” a family member of Alloun, who declined to provide his name, told Al Jazeera.
A cousin of the slain Palestinian teenager, who also declined to provide his name, said Alloun was targeted by a mob of about 70 Israeli settlers, one of many who have been rampaging through Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, attacking Palestinians and their property. “Even if the Israelis prove that he stabbed a settler, what was he to do when beaten and attacked by a huge mob screaming ‘Kill the Arabs’?”
We have nothing left to lose. They can kill us, blow up our homes, isolate our village, arrest and beat us, but this is now everyday life.
The death of Alloun comes on the heels of an unprecedented wave of anti-Arab incitement in Israel, following a pair of stabbings in which two Israelis died, and several others were wounded. In both cases, police fatally shot the Palestinian attackers.
Alloun’s father and uncle were arrested in Issawiya shortly after Alloun was killed. The exact circumstances leading to Alloun’s death remain unclear and disputed. Israeli officials and police say he had stabbed a settler and was likely armed and dangerous.
A video clip of the incident shows the Palestinian teen being hit by multiple gunshots fired by an Israeli police officer in Jerusalem’s Old City. At the time, he was running and did not appear to pose a threat. The video also appears to show Israeli settlers inciting the police to kill Alloun.
“Israeli soldiers are committing war crimes. This is murder,” alleged Tahseen Elayyan from Al-Haq rights organisation in Ramallah. “Based on what we have documented recently, we have noticed that it is very easy for Israeli security forces to claim Palestinians have knives and then to kill them, even when [soldiers’] lives are not in danger.”
Amjad Idris, Alloun’s nephew, described the last minutes of Alloun’s life to the London-based daily al-Araby al-Jadid, saying he had been chased by a mob of settlers in the Old City before police gunned him down at the Damascus Gate.
“This was a cold-blooded murder,” Idris said. “They could have at least arrested him. They saw he was unarmed and was being hunted down by settlers shouting racist slurs.”
According to Idris, Alloun was detained and interrogated by Israeli police several times but did not have any political affiliations.
Al Jazeera’s repeated attempts to contact Israeli police for comment on the case were unsuccessful.
The wave of violence engulfing the occupied West Bank shows no signs of abating. Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured by live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and beatings.
Hundreds more people have been injured by tear gas, and scores have been arrested. Israeli soldiers have also reportedly shot at more than a dozen Palestinian ambulances and assaulted paramedics.
The Palestinian Red Crescent has declared a state of emergency, putting its staff and medics on standby.
“Our ambulance’s windshield was shattered – and two of our volunteers wounded – when it was shot by rubber bullets,” Kamal Washasa from the Jalazone refugee camp’s civil service told Al Jazeera.
In the northern West Bank on Friday, Al Jazeera witnessed Israeli soldiers blocking Palestinian ambulances and fire engines trying to reach blazes and wounded people as settlers rampaged through Burin, Madama and Huwarra, near Nablus.
Palestinian property was also targeted by settlers, with hundreds of cars torched and huge swaths of agricultural land burned by settlers, allegedly under the protection of Israeli troops.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of even more repressive measures to control the violence, but Palestinian activists are unbowed.
“We have nothing left to lose,” one young protester from Issawiya told Al Jazeera. “They can kill us, blow up our homes, isolate our village, arrest and beat us – but this is now everyday life.”