UPDATE: The Israeli military have now amended a second time their version of events, abandoning the claim that Kahleh attempted to stab a soldier, and claiming now that “the soldiers called for him to stop and used tear gas when he refused their order. After refusing to exit his vehicle, the army said that a confrontation ensued, and that he tried to steal a weapon from a soldier and was then shot.”
Jerusalem24 – 45-year-old father of four Ahmad Hassan Kahleh was shot and killed by the Israeli military in front of his 18-year-old son near Silwad north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank this morning.
Kahla was one of dozens of Palestinian commuters stuck in traffic during morning rush hour, caused by a military checkpoint erected at the entrance to the town of Silwad. He was shot point blank with a single bullet in the neck during a physical scuffle with Israeli soldiers after the latter forced him and his son to exit their car.
“Dragged out of his vehicle”
Eyewitness Noman Shafeeq, who was at the scene in the traffic jam caused by the military checkpoint, tells Jerusalem24 that Palestinian drivers began honking as the traffic line failed to make any progress. Following the honking, Israeli soldiers fired a stun grenade at a vehicle in the line.
Shafeeq says that Kahleh shouted at the soldiers from inside his vehicle. One of the soldiers then reached through Kahleh’s open window and hit him with a rifle, before spraying Kahleh with pepper spray.
“Other soldiers rushed towards them, then dragged Kahleh and his son out of their vehicle,” says Shafeeq. “Then Kahleh began resisting them, and then they shot him in the neck point blank. His son was also pepper sprayed, then arrested and later released.”
Mobile phone footage shared on social media shows the physical scuffle between Kahleh and three Israeli soldiers in the moments leading to Kahleh’s killing, and appears to confirm Shafeeq’s testimony.
Kahleh’s teenager son Qusai was transferred to a clinic in the town of Silwad for treatment.
Israeli claims debunked
Israeli media claimed in their initial reports this morning that Kahleh was shot while attempting a stabbing attack. Israeli Channel 12 said that he “ran” towards Israeli soldiers “while waving a knife” and was then “neutralized” by the forces.
Coverage by Haaretz published immediately after the incident this morning quoted the Israeli military as saying Kahleh had been killed “after approaching a soldier’s post and pulling out a knife”.
Sometime following the release of the mobile phone footage from the scene, Haaretz edited their article to quote “IDF sources” as saying soldiers opened fire after trying to arrest Kahleh, and that “he additionally tried to snatch one of their guns”.
The initial claim – contradicted by eyewitnesses and the video footage – that Kahleh was armed with a knife still appears in the latest version of Haaretz‘s coverage.
The Israeli military have now shot and killed 13 Palestinians including in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem in the first two weeks of the new year – more than the first two months of 2022 combined.
2022 was the deadliest year for West Bank and Jerusalem Palestinians since the Second Intifada ended in 2005, with 170 fatalities including 39 children.
“You must be feeling cold”
Kahleh was a father of two sons and two daughters. He and his son Qusai were on their way to work, according to Kahleh’s wife Zahya, when they were caught in the queue for the military checkpoint.
Speaking from the hospital, Zayha said: “I’m so thankful Qusai wasn’t [also] brutally beaten.”
Zayha also told Quds News Network that she didn’t know the details about what happened to her husband, “But I know he didn’t have a knife on him, he only had his food with him, and Qusai.”
Weeping for her brother, Kahleh’s sister told Raya FM how well-known Kahleh was for his kindness. “Everyone in the town loved him, he was kind, and wished good upon everyone. May his children and wife bear his absence.”
Media footage from the hospital shows Kahleh’s father Hassan taking off his jacket at the morgue and covering his son. “My beloved must be feeling cold… My love, I will make you feel warm.”
Hundreds took part in the funeral procession for Kahleh this afternoon in his hometown of Rammoun.