January 27, 2012.
Yousef Ikhlayl, top left-hand corner, attending a demonstration in
Beit Ommar less than six months before he was killed
by Israeli settlers (Palestine Solidarity Project)
On 28 January 2011 at 6:30am, Yousef Ikhlayl, 17, went with his father Fakhri to their farmland on the outskirts of the West Bank village Beit Ommar, where they prepared the land around their grapevines. At approximately 7am, two groups of Israelis from the illegal settlements Bat Ayn and Kiryat Arba were taking a “hike” in the privately-owned Palestinian agricultural land belonging to the residents of Beit Ommar (“Palestinian killed in clashes with settlers near Hebron,” The Jerusalem Post, 29 January 2011).
There was no indication that the settlers were planning on shooting. Yousef’s father reported that the first shot fired by the settlers hit his son in the head. The settlers then began shooting in the air and the surrounding areas to prevent others from approaching, as his father screamed desperately for help.
Yousef was carried to a car that drove him out of the agricultural valley and to the main road, where an ambulance “rushed” him to the hospital in Hebron, passing two Israeli military checkpoints on the way. At the hospital, Yousef was put on a respirator, though he had no brain activity. He passed away soon after.
At his funeral the following day, as is common practice with the Israeli military involving martyr funerals, soldiers numbering in the hundreds invaded Beit Ommar and attacked the funeral with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and even live ammunition, as the Palestine Solidarity Project reported (“Funeral of Yousef Ikhlayl attacked by Israeli military, dozens injured,” 29 January 2011).
The murder of Yousef Ikhlayl, the impunity with which the settlers acted and the military’s behavior at the funeral are common occurrences in the occupied West Bank. The death of a Palestinian, even a child, is rarely noted and quickly forgotten in much of the world. The killing of Yousef was, however, a profound event for myself, the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP, the organization I co-founded) and popular resistance in the Hebron district as a whole.
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