Israeli police kill Palestinian woman

16:20 Dec 25 2015 near Silwad

Israeli police kill Palestinian woman Israeli police kill Palestinian woman Israeli police kill Palestinian woman
File Photo: Israeli soldiers stand around a car used in an alleged attack [on Israeli forces?] in the village of Silwad, in the West Bank, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. Credit: AP, published by Haaretz on 12/25/2015

Mourners pray over the body of Mahdiyah Hammad, a 38-year-old woman, who was shot dead by Israeli Border Police after she allegedly tried to ram them with a car, Silwad, December 26, 2015. Credit: AFP

Adib Hammad. Credit: Alex Levac


UPDATE: published Jan 2, 2016

Mahdia Hammad was hurrying home to feed her baby. Border Policemen signaled her to stop, but she continued to drive, slowly. Then they sprayed her car with bullets.

by Gideon Levy and Alex Levac for Haaretz

Here, next to the house’s fence, is where the car rolled to a stop after it had continued to move even though its driver was already dead. And here’s where the Border Policemen stood as they shot dozens of bullets into her car. It all happened on this normally quiet residential street at the edge of the town of Silwad, north of Ramallah. Only the shell casings still scattered along the side of the road and the fragments of the shattered windows of the Hyundai Lantra testify mutely to what happened here last Friday.

This is where Israeli troops killed Mahdia Hammad, a 40-year-old mother of four, the youngest a child of 10 months. In Israel it was claimed that she tried to run over the Border Policemen, who were standing in the street. Her husband claims that she was an inexperienced driver who was hurrying home to feed their son and was apparently rattled by the sight of the Israeli force and lost her head. One way or the other, nothing can explain the rage and lust to kill that seized the troops. They sprayed her car and her body with bullets in a frenzy of shooting that continued even after she was dead.

Together with Ashraf Idabis and Iyad Haddad – field-workers for the International Red Cross and the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, respectively – we spent a few hours at the scene this week, taking testimonies from residents and passersby who witnessed the incident. The testimonies, which were given separately and were for the most part identical, raise two very disturbing questions: Why did Hammad keep driving after the police signaled her to stop? And why, since she was driving very slowly – about 20 kilometers an hour, according to all the eyewitnesses – without apparently intending to ram anyone, was she shot so many times, in what seems like an apoplexy of fury and craving to kill, including a “confirmation of kill” after the car had come to a stop. Is it possible that this woman, who hadn’t driven a car in over a year and was apparently rushing home to feed her baby, intended to perpetrate a ramming attack? Was killing her the only way to stop her?

An acrid smell of tear gas was still hanging in the air in Silwad, even midweek. There are demonstrations here on Fridays, opposite Highway 60 and the settlement of Ofra, not far from where Hammad was killed. The street running perpendicular to the site is blocked by a mound of dirt and strewn with stones and the remains of scorched tires. Hammad did not take part in the demonstrations. She was a housewife and mother; her husband, Adib, works as an inspector for a construction company.

December 25 started off as a routine day. The couple had breakfast together, after which Adib attended prayers in the mosque, followed by lunch. In the afternoon, Mahdia said she wanted to use the family car to visit her sister, Samira, who lives on the hill opposite Silwad, and bring her some firewood.

According to Adib, his wife had a driver’s license but rarely used it and hadn’t driven for around a year, since the birth of their last child. Mahdia promised to be back quickly, before the baby woke from his sleep, in order to feed him.

Now Adib is tormenting himself for having given her the car. He’s been left to take care of the children, along with their grandmother. Samira said afterward that her sister had been in such a hurry to get home that she didn’t even stay for coffee.

At 4:20 P.M., Adib heard the sound of distant gunfire. Suddenly filled with foreboding, he rushed out to the street. He phoned his wife, but she didn’t answer. He called her sister, who told him Mahdia had left for home a few minutes earlier. Then came a call from their eldest, Zakariya, 20, who asked his father who had been driving the family car. When Adib told him that his mother had taken it, he heard cries of anguish on the other end of the line. Weeping and shouting, Zakariya told his father that he had seen the bullet-riddled car from a distance and knew it was theirs – and now came the appalling realization that his mother was in the vehicle.

A relative, Yihyeh Mubarak, who lives in New Orleans, served in the U.S. Army in the Iraq war and returns to his hometown for a few months every year to work as a paramedic, immediately took Zakariya into his ambulance and gave him tranquilizers. Mubarak already knew Mahdia had been hurt badly, but the Border Policemen prevented him at gunpoint from approaching her car in order to take her to the hospital. He received her body, riddled with 17 bullets, that evening from the Civil Administration’s Beit El base – which was unusual, because Israel almost always delays the return of bodies of perpetrators of attacks – and took it to the hospital in Ramallah.

Mubarak is on the verge of tears as he recounts the day’s events. Never, he declares, has he seen such violent behavior by soldiers and police in the territories as during the past few months.

Back on the street of death, a mule is now tied up next to the spot from which the Border Policemen opened fire at Mahdia Hammad. She’d begun to drive up the street and in front of her a Mitsubishi jeep carrying construction workers who quickly turned around when they saw the Israeli troops ahead. They related that they had shouted to Mahdia to turn around, too, but she ignored them. Her window was closed and maybe she didn’t hear them. She went on driving.

From a distance of dozens of meters, a Border Policeman signaled her with his hand to stop, but she continued on, slowly.

The shooting started when she was some 20 to 30 meters from them. One witness said that a warning shot was fired into the air, but none of the others saw that. In any event, the volleys of rifle fire began immediately. According to one eyewitness, a policeman knelt on the ground and aimed his rifle at the car, while the others fired bursts of bullets. The testimonies indicate that there were about eight Border Policemen on the street. One person present related that he saw Mahdia raise her hand in the car, possibly to signal the policemen to stop shooting.

When the car came to a halt, another policeman emerged from the perpendicular street, thrust his rifle into the bullet-riddled car and fired another volley into Mahdia’s head, even though she was certainly dead by then. The troops then took the car and the body away and prevented everyone, including the ambulance driver, from approaching.

The Border Police spokesperson stated this week that its investigation revealed that, “the shooting took place during an attempt to run over Border Policemen involved in an operational action in Silwad. The terrorist, who saw that the forces were busy dispersing persons that were disturbing the peace, accelerated suddenly while swerving in their direction. The forces fired warning shots in the air but she kept moving toward them while accelerating her vehicle. The forces fired shots at the car to avoid being hit and immediately stopped firing when the danger had passed. The attempt to omit facts and twist the circumstances of the incident constitutes a futile effort to distort the truth.”

What actually happened? Did Mahdia understand that she had to stop? Did she try unsuccessfully to brake? Was she really trying to run over the policemen? Her husband says she suffered from hearing problems. He says she was a bad driver, and finds it impossible to imagine that she intended to run over anyone. She loved her life, he says, and most of all she loved Yihyeh, their baby.
The car has not yet been returned to him, nor has the computer that was in it, with all the construction plans he was working on.

The widower asks quietly, “How was the story presented in Israel? Do the Israelis know what happened? Did the way Mahdia died lead to a public discussion?”

We, of course, are ashamed to reply.


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) Dec 25, 2015-- A Palestinian was killed on Friday after she allegedly attempted to run over Israeli Border Police officers near the village of Silwad in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli police said in a statement that a woman in a vehicle approached border guards in an area where clashes were taking place. The forces opened fire when they saw the vehicle quickly approaching, immediately killing the driver.

Local sources identified the driver as Mahdia Mohammad Ibrahim Hammad.

Locals in the area at the time told Ma'an that Hammad was 30 meters away from the Israeli military post when forces opened heavy fire towards her.

The sources said that the woman wasn't speeding but driving at a normal pace when she was shot. Israeli forces did not provide Hammad with medical treatment and she was left to bleed before soldiers took her body, locals added.

The alleged attack was the latest in a violent week in the occupied Palestinian territory, with three Palestinians killed Thursday after carrying out separate attacks on Israeli military that left two security guards and a soldier injured.

A fourth Palestinian was also killed Thursday when clashes broke out in the Qalandiya refugee camp between residents and Israeli military forces.

Wednesday, two Palestinians were shot dead after they killed one Israeli and injured another in a stab attack at the Jaffa Gate of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. Another Israeli was also killed by live fire from Israeli border guards who opened fire on the attackers.

One week ago, Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Ayyad, 21, was also killed by Israeli forces in Silwad after the Israeli army said he attempted to run his vehicle into military forces while a “riot” was taking place.

Over 132 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli military forces and settlers since violence increased at the beginning of October. Twenty Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinian individuals during the same time period.

Middle East Quartet envoys and UN officials visited the area last week in efforts to quell the ongoing violence, however no concrete steps were made.

Senior UN official Miroslav Jenca said at the time that a comprehensive strategy necessary to reduce violence must not rely entirely on “enhanced security measures,” but “must also address the primary elements motivating Palestinian anger.”

While the majority of recent attacks have been carried out without the organization of political factions, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has not publicly condemned the recent attacks or upsurge in demonstrations.

Israeli authorities meanwhile have launched a crackdown in response to the escalation, promoting a “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians as well as a series of harsh measures throughout the occupied territory that rights groups have termed collective punishment.

by Gili Cohen for Haaretz

Woman was allegedly speeding toward several Border Police officers near Silwad when they spotted her, took shelter and opened fire; Gaza man reportedly shot dead in border clashes.

A Palestinian woman was shot and killed after allegedly attempting to run over soldiers with her vehicle near the West Bank town of Silwad on Friday afternoon.

According to a preliminary report by the Israel Defense Forces, the woman was speeding toward several Border Police officers when they spotted her, took shelter and opened fire.

The driver was declared deceased at the scene. No Israeli casualties were reported.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported a Gaza man was killed in clashes with Israeli forces near the border fence. According to the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, Hani Rafiq Wahdan, 22, was killed by live fire. Nine others were reportedly wounded. 

According to the Israeli army, soldiers fired at the legs of Palestinian protesters who were throwing stones, firebombs and improvised bombs at Israeli forces.  

On Thursday, three Israelis were wounded in two different attacks in the West Bank. In another incident, a stabbing attack was thwarted in the Hebron area. All three Palestinian assailants were shot dead.
The same day, a Palestinian stabbed two security guards in the industrial area near the West Bank settlement of Ariel in the morning hours while a soldier was lightly wounded earlier in the day in a car ramming attack north of Jerusalem.
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