Israeli soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian woman at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank after she allegedly pulled a knife and attempted to stab a guard. However, a European advocate who witnessed the incident claims the woman was only trying to open her purse for the routine inspection.
The victim, identified as an 18-year-old university student named Hadeel Hashlamoun, was reportedly on her way to school when the forces opened fire at the Hebron container checkpoint that divides Israeli and Palestinian controlled sections of the city.
An army spokesperson said that Hashlamoun was ordered to stop after the checkpoint’s metal detector went off, however, instead of slowing down, she pulled out a knife. The soldiers fired at her legs and feet in an attempt to stop her from advancing, but when she continued to head towards them, they shot her in the abdomen.
While Israeli troops stand by their narrative, some eyewitnesses believe the soldiers overreacted to a perceived threat, and that “there was no need for that assassination.”
A European activist, who was present at the checkpoint during the incident, claimed that a soldier asked Hashlamoun to open her bag for inspection, but when she was opening her bag, he began shouting: “Stop! Stop! Stop! Don’t move! Don’t move!’”
“She was trying to show him what was inside her bag, but the soldier shot her once, and then shot her again,” the activist said on the condition of anonymity, adding that three or four other soldiers raced to the scene and responded with gunfire.
Several pictures have emerged online showing Israeli soldiers pointing their guns at a burqa-clad person at the checkpoint before the shooting, with the sequence indicating that the girl indeed tried to leave the checkpoint. Also, in none of the images is she holding any sort of weapon.
“She was like a nail, like she was in shock,” recalled another witness Fawaz Abu Aisheh. He said that Hashlamoun did not respond when soldiers screamed at her in Hebrew to step back. Even when a soldier shot at her feet twice, she did not move. “I was shouting, ‘She doesn’t understand Hebrew!’”
Apparently, Aisheh had opened a small gate inside the checkpoint so that the teenager could back away from the soldiers, which she did after a few moments.
“Even if she had a knife, she would have to leap over a barrier about a meter high to reach a soldier,” he added. “There were six or seven soldiers with heavy weapons. There was no need for that assassination.”
No Israeli soldier was injured during the ordeal.
The army claims that Israeli medics tended the woman at the site before transferring her to a hospital where she succumbed to her wounds, but a video posted by a local news agency indicates otherwise. The footage shows the woman being left to bleed on the ground – reportedly for 30 minutes – after she was shot and then being roughly pulled out of the frame of the camera.
Although Israel has dubbed Hashlamoun as a “female Palestinian attacker,” the witness accounts make it seem like her death could have been avoided. Perhaps the soldiers did overreact.
In a separate incident, a Palestinian man was killed in an explosion near a village near Hebron in what the Israeli military described as an accident, saying it appeared that a device the man was trying to throw had detonated prematurely.
Both events have occurred amid heightened tensions in the region as Jews and Muslims prepared for Yom Kippur and Eid-al-Adha, respectively. The latest stream of violence around Jerusalem began with clashes at a disputed holy site in the Old City after Muslim men under 40 were restricted from entering the sacred building.