On February 22nd, during a protest in support of the hunger strikers in Aboud, 22-year-old student Mohammad Assfour was shot by the Israeli military, becoming the another martyr in the recent prisoners Intifada. The protest gathered 70 Palestinians showing their support and solidarity for the political prisoners who have been in a hunger strike. Since about a year and a half ago, the hunger strikes campaign in Israeli prisons has been bringing new attention to the cause of the Palestinian political prisoners – which include the inhuman living conditions in prisons, tortures during endless interrogations and administrative arrests – and has brought together regular protests all across the West Bank. On the other hand, Israeli repression has been increasingly more violent.
Assfour was shot in the head with a metal bullet and taken to the hospital, where he struggled for days, but did not resist and died on Thursday, March 7th. He was a student at Al Quds University and was supposed to graduate just this month.
Like Assfour, many protesters that attended recent demonstrations were injured in the head, showing how military repression forces are prepared to respond to the Palestinians growing popular pressure. The more constant use of live ammunition and higher rates of injuries and killings are an indicator that Israel is engaged in yet a new wave of increased repression. Since the beginning of the year, Israel has killed six Palestinians with live fire and martyred another one under torture, held without accusations in one of its jails.
Stop the Wall already in previous studies has highlighted the cyclical increase in the use of life bullets and shoot-to-kill policies. This clearly undermines any claim that killings as part of Israeli repression are accidental or "self-defence" . The Israeli military's objective is to threaten activists as a means to weaken the popular resistance and keep the human rights situation of prisoners and the arbitrary arrests off the international radar. However, the popular protest movement has been showing itself capable of growing and spreading throughout the last months and weeks despite the Israeli brutal repression, and the voice of the Palestinian prisoners and fighters like Mohammad Assfour shall not be silenced.