Palestinian, Israeli, and International Activists March for Justice for Harun Abu Aram
On Friday morning Jan. 8, 2021, two hundred Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists demonstrated in the village of A-Rakeez, following the shooting of 24-year-old Harun Abu Aram on 1 January 2021 by an Israeli soldier in the Palestinian village of A-Rakeez. The shooting has left him paralyzed and in critical condition at a Palestinian hospital in the nearby city of Hebron.
Demonstrators marched along the road from the site of the shooting last week. Protestors demanded justice for the shooting, with signs saying “Stop the Killing. Stop the Hate;” “Stop Demolishing our Homes;” and “Justice for Harun.” The army declared the area a closed military zone – although refused to show the order – and attempted to disperse protestors with tear gas, stun grenades, and physical force. Despite the army’s continued efforts to prevent the march , demonstrators carried on up the road.
The demonstration took place a day after the IDF claimed that their own initial investigation found that the shooting was unintentional, a claim which eyewitnesses dispute. According to Palestinians who were there, the shooting, at close range, was intentional and the soldiers fired 17 additional rounds, even shooting the car that arrived to take Abu Aram for medical treatment.
A community leader in his 70s from a nearby village, Hajj Suleiman, was injured during the demonstration. Eyewitnesses saw a soldier hold him down with his knee. He is receiving medical treatment at a local clinic.
Harun Abu Aram was shot during an army raid to confiscate building equipment while he was rebuilding winter shelter following a series of demolitions in A-Rakeez in November 2020. Palestinian communities in the occupied territories have experienced an escalation in demolitions and confiscations of infrastructure in 2020. For decades, the villages of the South Hebron Hills have faced ongoing pressures from systematic Israeli efforts to push them off their lands, including violence, harassment from settlers, and home demolitions. These days the Palestinian residents of Masafer Yatta (Firing Zone 918) await a verdict from the High Court which might approve Israel’s use of the territory as a live Firing Zone and allow the forcible transfer of more than 1000 people.
This extreme use of violence is indicative of Israel’s concerted efforts to depopulate the South Hebron Hills, threatening the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians who have lived in this region for generations. Meanwhile, construction continues without interference in illegal Israeli settlements and outposts across the occupied territories, including the nearby outposts of Avigayil and Ma’on Farm.
Basil Adara, resident of next door A-Tuwani village said, “The Israeli army and civil administration deploy apartheid policies to evacuate us from our land – refusing 98.7% of our building permit requests and demolishing our homes, while granting Israeli outposts with masterplans. Harun was shot trying to defend his family’s right to their home, their dignity, and their livelihoods. We are demonstrating today to demand an end to the systematic violence against human beings and our homes.”
Samiha Hureini, a Palestinain activist from Youth of Sumud in the South Hebron Hills, said, “We are demonstrating today in response to the crime committed against Harun Abu Aram last Friday, and we are sending a message to the occupation: stop the crimes, stop shooting us, and stop violating our human rights. Free Palestine and end the occupation.”
Karen Isaacs, a Jerusalem-based activist said, “We are here in solidarity with Harun, his family, and the community’s steadfast efforts to stay in their homes. Despite the army lying about what happened last Friday, any person with an open mind and conscience can realize that what happened to Harun was a tragic and unjust act of violence. We are here to make it clear that we are not going to accept the army’s lie and we will continue to stand with the community to demand justice.