Another Cold Blood ExtraJudicial Killing 14 yo girl Palestinians in Jerusalem
Palestine // In a pale-walled room two single beds are neatly draped in bright pink bedspreads covered with the image of Fulla — the Arab world’s Barbie doll. Teddy bears and a pink play pushchair sit in one corner.
In a neatly arranged cupboard sits a printout of a near straight-A school report card, alongside a diary filled with teenage entries.
The bedroom belongs to 14-year-old Palestinian, Hadeel Wajih Awwad — the same room where she would often sleep next to her cousin, 16-year-old Norhan Awwad. The girls were more like sisters.
The innocence of the room seems a long way from the surveillance video footage showing the cousins threatening passers-by with a pair of scissors in central Jerusalem.
What followed was a shocking depiction of the hopelessness and anger of young Palestinians born into an Israeli occupation and the brutality of a security force long accused of using excessive violence.
The girls run towards a man in the street near the busy Mehane Yehuda marketplace as he points a gun at them. A police officer rushes in as a bystander flattens Norhan with a chair leaving her still on the ground. The policeman then shoots Hadeel several times, killing her, before firing two shots into Norhan’s chest.
Moments earlier, one of the girls had lightly stabbed a Palestinian man, in his 70s, mistaking him for an Israeli. He was treated for a light arm injury and released from hospital on Monday night.
Norhan was treated at the scene and taken to hospital in Jerusalem where she remains. Her family have not been updated on her condition.
“What is killing me on the inside — confusing me — is how could a young girl commit a crime. She was murdered, she wasn’t doing anything. Why did they have to kill her,” said Hadeel’s mother Maliha Awwad from the family home at the Qalandiya refugee camp, in the occupied West Bank.
As the scene unfolded in Jerusalem, the girls’ families thought they were safely at school.
“She woke up around 6.45am as usual and made breakfast and left the house, it was a normal day,” said Maliha of her daughter.
Hadeel’s aunt, Menal 42, even blames the school for not notifying their family earlier about the girls’ absence.
“I don’t know how they got to Jerusalem, I was told Qalandiya was closed,” she said, referring to the main check point through which Palestinians in the West Bank must pass to reach the city.
Menal shows The National Hadeel’s diary, she flicks through the pages and pauses at a picture of a young man.
Hadeel had cut out the picture of her brother Mahmud Awwad, 22, from a martyr’s poster. He was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper nearQalandiya during clashes between protesters and security forces.
He died after five months in hospital on November 28, 2013 — nearly two years ago to the day. This date is circled and repeated in Hadeel’s diary.
The family have pursued legal recourse for his death in Israeli courts but to no avail.
The shooting of the Awwad girls comes after nearly eight weeks of violencebetween Israelis and Palestinians in which more than 90 Palestinians have been killed along with 15 Israelis. More than half of the Palestinian fatalities were accused of carrying out attacks, mostly acting alone and at random, armed with knives. Many others were killed by live fire during protests.
“The video of the Awwad cousins shows an execution of girls carrying scissors that could have been easily neutralised by Israel’s security apparatus, which is armed to the teeth,” said Husam Zomlot, Ambassador at large for Palestine.
“The cold-blooded murder of mostly children and teens can’t be explained from a security perspective or basic rules of engagement.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas alongside a raft of human right organisations has accused Israel of carrying out “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinians.
He said the current wave of attacks was the “inevitable result of diminishing hopes, the continued strangulation” and lack of sense of security felt by our people.
At the end of October Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein clarified the rules of engagement of Israeli forces, which are prohibited from firing at a suspected assailant unless an immediate danger to human life cannot be prevented and that any use of fire is proportional to the threat.
A UN report this month called for “independent, thorough, prompt and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions and to prove compensation to the victims and their families”.
“Cases of excessive use of force by Israeli forces against Palestinians, including some which appear to amount to summary executions, continue to be reported and some have been captured on video,” said Christof Heyns, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial killing.
The family of the Awwad cousins refute allegations they carried out an attack with scissors.