The father of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy shot dead by Israeli troops last week has said he has little faith that he will see justice.
Mohammed al-Alami was shot and killed by Israeli forces on July 28 as he traveled with his father and two siblings in their hometown of Beit Ummar in the West Bank. His death sparked two days of violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops, resulting in the death of one protester.
The Israeli military has opened an investigation into the killing. But Moayed al-Alami is doubtful anyone will pay a real price for the death of his eldest.
“I have no confidence in the investigation until I see the soldiers in court,” he said Wednesday, sitting on the sofa on his ground floor patio, protectively hugging and kissing two of his remaining children.
Recounting the events of last week, al-Alami said he had just picked up some snacks for the children, using his car, when Mohammed asked to return to the store.
“Mohammed told me, ‘father you have forgotten something.’ I asked if it was necessary, and he said it was very necessary. So, I told him that we will go back and buy it,” said al-Alami.
Al-Alami said he turned the car around. Moments later, his white Renault was struck by gunfire from the rear, including at least three bullets that he said hit Mohammed. The boy was rushed to hospital and operated on for four hours before he died.
The Israeli military has said soldiers in the area called on the van to stop, and that the forces fired warning shots and only aimed at the vehicle’s tires. Al-Alami said he never heard any warnings. Over 10 bullet holes riddled the vehicle.
The army also said that al-Alami’s car resembled a vehicle driven by a group of men who were earlier seen burying what turned out to be a dead baby.
Believing Al-Alami’s car to be the Palestinians who had recently buried the baby next to the IDF post, they sought to arrest its passengers, the military said.
Al-Alami’s brother — who witnessed the entire event from the balcony — said the two events were not related and that earlier, a different family had been burying a stillborn baby.
Other Beit Ummar residents told The Times of Israel that the child wasn’t buried in the town’s main cemetery, but instead in a smaller one near the military post.
“The three people who arrived earlier had come to bury a baby that had died in the womb,” Ashraf Al-Alami said.
After the three people had left, he said, he began to worry when he saw soldiers arrive. He feared they would mistake the burial site as a crime scene and grow suspicious. That was when his brother’s car approached.
The Israeli left-wing rights group B’Tselem this week released what it said was a security-camera video of the shooting. In the video, al-Alami’s van is seen approaching a dip in the road, with a group of Israeli soldiers standing further down a hill.
Al-Alami is seen doing a U-turn before being chased up the street by troops, who are heard shouting at him to stop, before opening fire. The actual shooting is not seen, but at least a dozen shots are heard. B’Tselem said the video shows the family posed no threat to the troops.
The army has said that senior commanders and military police — which investigate suspected wrongdoing by troops— are involved in the probe.
But Moayed said that he did not expect the investigation to lead to anything. He said the military helped take the boy to the hospital after the shooting, but that he has not heard from investigators.
B’Tselem in 2016 halted its longtime practice of assisting in investigations, saying it had grown frustrated with the military justice system.
Military Police investigations rarely result in soldiers being brought to court, and even many of those charged do not face serious consequences. In a recent indictment, a soldier found to have wrongfully killed a Palestinian and wounded another near Bethlehem was handed three months’ community service.
In the first seven months of this year, Israeli fire has killed 11 Palestinian children in the West Bank, according to the advocacy group Defense for Children Palestine. The list however does not distinguish between those who died committing what Israel has determined to be acts of terror and other cases.
Mohammed’s funeral the following day resulted in large clashes in which a 20-year-old Palestinian man was killed by Israeli army fire. His funeral was held on Friday, followed by more clashes.
Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.