A Palestinian man has died two years after being shot in the neck by an Israel Defense Forces soldier during a clash in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry announced on Tuesday.
Haroun Abu Aram, 26, had been paralyzed from the neck down and had trouble breathing since he was shot in January 2021.
The ministry said he had died from injuries sustained “two years ago from live bullets of the occupation in Masafer Yatta,” a flashpoint area in the South Hebron Hills that the IDF has designated a live firing zone.
Abu Aram was shot as troops arrived to confiscate an electric generator and other equipment from the unrecognized West Bank village of al-Rakeez. The generator was allegedly used in illegal construction.
The military said the lives of the soldiers involved had been in danger when the shooting took place. An investigation found that the bullet was not aimed at Abu Aram’s neck, but was fired unintentionally after another Palestinian grabbed the soldier’s gun, the military said after the incident.
The IDF said an initial probe of the incident determined that a riot had broken out as the soldiers attempted to seize the materials. Abu Aram, who witnesses said was unarmed, was engaged in a tug-of-war over the electric generator with the troops seeking to confiscate it.
Palestinian eyewitnesses have denied this description of the events, saying the shot was fired intentionally.
They have also contested the military’s description of the event as a “riot.” A video from the scene showed a scuffle between four unarmed Palestinians and the soldiers.
הבוקר נודע על מותו של הארון אבו עראם מדרום הר חברון, בן 26 ששכב שנתיים משותק לאחר שנורה בצווארו בידי חייל, שהתעקש להחרים גנרטור קטן ששימש את משפחתו בימי החורף הקרים. pic.twitter.com/vDjf2jK3fh
— שיחה מקומית (@mekomit) February 14, 2023
The IDF said Tuesday that a Military Police investigation into the incident had “recently” been closed after the Military Advocate General found the evidence did not show “a criminal offense being committed.”
Palestinian eyewitnesses told The Times of Israel after the incident that they had not been contacted as part of the army’s initial investigation.
After Abu Aram was hospitalized for months in Hebron, a group of Israelis raised tens of thousands of shekels to have him moved to a rehabilitation center in Tel Aviv to undergo therapy to improve his breathing.