Last Wednesday, March 11, Mohammed Abdel Karim Hamayel was shot dead while defending his land, Mount Al-Arma, near Beita Village, south of Nablus, from being taken over by the Israeli settlers. As Stop the Wall Campaign we mourn Muhammad’s death and warn that the point blank killing of Muhammed, the use of live ammunition that injured dozens of fellow protestors and the brutal indiscriminate violence by the Israeli occupation forces may start another wave of escalating violence against Palestinian communities, particularly youth.
Muhammad participated in a peaceful demonstration when an Israeli soldier shot him with live ammunition in the face. Few hours after being shot he succumbed to his wounds. Dozens of fellow protesters from his hometown of Beita were shot at and injured as well.
Soldiers target youth with live ammunition at the sit-in camp in Mount al-Arma.
The protesters were staging a sit-in on Mount Al-Arma when the Israeli occupation forces violently attacked them with live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters. According to Majdi Hamayel, a popular struggle activist from Beita, “when the Israeli occupation forces fiercely attacked Mount Al-Arma, there were children, disabled and old people who only wanted to protest peacefully.” Yet, Hamayel added, “the intention of the Israeli occupation forces was from the very beginning to use tremendous violence against the protesters. The demonstrators did not even hail the fully armed soldiers with stones when they started fatally shooting them in their heads.” According to Majdi, like the other demonstrators who were present in the location, martyred Mohammed Hamayel, “loves his native land and was enthusiastic about protecting it. He did so unarmed representing no threat to the Israeli soldier who shot him.”
The funeral of Muhammed Hamayel.
Since over three weeks, dozens of Palestinians from Beita town and popular struggle activists have been staging a sit-in on Mount Al-Arma to protect it from the Israeli settlers who try to take control over it. The settlers’ attacks have come as a response to a call published on social media by fanatic settlers living in Itamar illegal settlement to seize control over the land. They claim that it is an ancient religious site for Jews. In fact, a lot of areas in Palestine have been seized for settlement construction and expansion by invoking ‘God’ to sanction violence against the Palestinian people and strip them of their land. Mount Al-Arma’s importance does not lie in the claimed religious meaning assigned to it, but in its strategic location. Mount Al-Arma overlooks the Jordan Valley, a fertile land threatened with imminent confiscation. Seizing this hilltop represents a panoptical defensive tool as it would grant the Israeli occupation with a panoramic view over the Jordan Valley and the whole district of Nablus.
On March 2nd, popular struggle activists on Mount Al-Arma succeeded in warding off the settlers during their second attempt to take over the mount and the Israeli soldiers who escorted the settlers to shield them. Already on that day, Israeli military already injured dozens of Palestinians, two with live ammunition. Last Wednesday, the Israeli occupation forces escalated their violent measures to intimidate the protesters and coerce them into leaving the sit-in tent they have erected. Majdi Hamayel said that “the Israeli occupation forces did not allow any ambulance to reach the injured people and transport them to hospital for treatment leaving them bleeding for hours.” In addition to the murder of Muhammed, two protesters have been seriously injured with live ammunition in addition to about 112 hundred people who suffered from teargas inhalation.Muhammed Hamayel's grandmother. Killing a Palestinian teen targets generations.
Despite of the murder of Muhammed, the Israeli settlers failed for the third time within a month to seize Mount Al-Arma. Since the 1980s, the Israeli settlers have assigned Mount Al-Arma a place in their strategic plans defining it a Jewish site as a justification to seize it. Yet, through their fervent steadfastness and strong belief in their right to their ancestral land, the people of Beita have been able to keep the mount tightly under their protection. “The murder of Mohammed,” Hamayel said, “won’t subdue our struggle. We believe that every Palestinian martyred for the land of Palestine makes us advance one step further on the path towards the liberation of Palestine and this is why robbing more Palestinians of their lives will never stop us from defending it.”The entire village of Beita came out to give Muhammed Hamayel the last salute.
Much of the Palestinian lands that are currently under immediate threat of confiscation have been designated as area ‘C’ under the Oslo Accords and hence under full Israeli control. This makes it is easier for the settlers and Israeli authorities to confiscate them. It is bureaucratically harder for the Israeli occupation to seize Mount Al-Arma as it is classified as area ‘B,’ where construction and access to land are in the hands of the Palestinian Authority. This has been a tool for the people of Beita that were able to claim that Mount Al-Arma in area B. But with the hectic policy of the Israeli far right government to expand its settlements, even those bureaucratic rules are given little or even no importance. To add insult to the injury of the Palestinian people, Trump’s recently announced ‘Theft of the Century’ encourages Israel even more to continue on its apartheid and settler colonial practices giving a blind eye to any treaties signed previously with the Palestinians and the international legal framework in general.
Escalation of brutality against communities and protestors has been intensively studied by Stop the Wall in the landmark report “Repression Allowed – Resistance Denied” (2009) in which we provide evidence that there have been clearly identifiable waves of intensified and premeditated killings against protestors. We show that
“injuries and deaths inflicted by the Israeli military at protests and activity surrounding them are intentional, not accidental. The reintroduction and heavy use of live ammunition and fragmenting bullets is a clear indicator that Israeli policy is designed to harm and kill, as is the regular firing of metal tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators. Furthermore, it is now increasingly clear that a significant proportion – if not a majority – of fatalities recorded in this report were the result of a qualitatively more extreme form of intent. The recorded shooting of fleeing demonstrators, the use of snipers and silencers, undercover soldiers opening fire with live ammunition, and the chasing down and assassination of children within a demonstration display an intent that is not only generally lethal, but precise and calculated.”
The targeted killings are aimed at terrifying entire communities.
The steadfastness of Beita, the effectiveness of people standing in the face of Israel’s annexation plans and the frenzy of Israel’s regime to try to transform Trump’s “Theft of the Century” plan into reality on the ground, may – if we don’t all nationally and internationally stand together – spur further killings.
Muhammed Hemayel's funeral.