Ghassan Andoni / Middle East Media Ceter – 2004-04-05 09:04:24
BALATA REFUGE CAMP, NABLUS (March 27, 2004) – Saturday morning an Israeli soldier firing from inside a military jeep shot dead seven year old Khaled Maher Walweel. When shot, Khaled was in his home near a 2nd story window.
The bullet pierced the window hitting the boy in the neck. In the street below two military jeeps were making their way out of the camp under a barrage of stones.
Moments later, the boy’s uncle was seen carrying a severely bleeding Khaled into the street, where he first held the boy up at the window of an army jeep and then walked towards a waiting ambulance.
As the uncle walked towards the ambulance, approximately 20 meters away, one of the jeeps attempted to cut him off. The uncle was pinned momentarily between a shopfront and the jeep. As the ambulance approached, it too was blocked.
One jeep maneuvered behind the ambulance while the first jeep moved to block the ambulance’s front. Khaled was able to be slipped inside the ambulance, but the two jeeps in the narrow street blocked the ambulance from leaving the scene.
Soldiers clearly were intent on blocking any movement by the ambulance. As the ambulance driver attempted to move around the jeeps, the jeeps themselves moved so as to continue blocking the ambulance’s departure.
Eventually the ambulance, with the assistance of the surrounding crowd, was able to maneuver from between the jeeps. Paramedical workers with the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees performed CPR during transport to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus but the boy was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Earlier that morning, the same two military jeeps were present at the northern entrance to the camp, before driving around the camp to its southern entrance. There the jeeps waited for approximately half an hour. During this time, they were pelted by stones and began firing tear gas and concussion grenades into the groups of boys throwing stones.
Human Rights Violations Alleged
At approximately 10:00 am, the two jeeps moved into the center of the camp firing live bullets into the crowded streets and into the air. Three more jeeps soon arrived at the same entrance.
Local camp residents reported that a group of Israeli soldiers had occupied a home in the center of the camp during the previous night along with two other houses near Jerusalem Street on the camp’s western edge. The two jeeps were presumably in the camp to evacuate the central group of soldiers.
After several minutes at least four soldiers were seen leaving a house and entering the back of one of the jeeps. Shortly afterwards, the barrage of indiscriminate shooting from the two jeeps into the camp intensified and Khaled was killed. No armed Palestinian fighters were present in the area during the incident.
The occupation of homes, the killing of children, and the blockage of emergency vehicles while in performance of their duties all constitute grave breaches of International Human Rights Law.
The Israeli military’s attempt to block an ambulance carrying a dying child is particularly disturbing.