Killing Of Little Khaled Walweel In Balata
More On The March 27, 2004 Killing Of Little Khaled Walweel In Balata
Watching and reading the media reports of the shooting death of little Khaled Walweel in the Balata refugee camp on Saturday morning has been frustrating to say the least. Again, in the mainstream, western media, there is no context given to Israeli military operations that lead to Palestinian deaths. The media was intent on saying that Khaled was killed in an "exchange of fire" or even taking at face value the story of the Israeli military, that Khaled was shot by a Palestinian fighter, not bothering to mention that if the Israeli military was not invading, terrorizing and occupying Palestinian civilian neighborhoods and lives, Khaled and thousands of other innocent civilians would not have been killed.
We do need to make two corrections/clarifications to our initial report on this incident though.
1) Initial reports from ISM eyewitnesses, Marcus, Judah and Omar stated that the bullet that killed Khaled was fired from an Israeli military jeep that had invaded the camp.
After returning to the scene and studying photos and video footage, Judah writes:
"After reviewing the footage of the event and photographs taken of the boys injuries and the path of the bullet through the family's 2nd story window, it seems clear that the lethal shot was not fired from the main jeep we saw in the street. Footage does show around 20 live shots fired about the camp by soldiers in jeeps during the operation. Almost all of this fire is indiscriminate: some fired up into air, some fired down streets. The intent seems to be to intimidate stone throwers. The single shot fired about 17 seconds befor wailing scream are heard and the boy appears on the street carried by his uncle (about 20 more seconds later), seems the be the lethal shot. The time from other shots to the wailing is just too long for these other shots to have hit the boy and no other shots were fired during the 17 seconds between "the shot" and the begining of wailling. At the time of thi
2) Marcus, Judah and Omar's report stated that "no armed Palestinian fighters were seen in the area at the time of the incident." Footage taken from the Associated Press however, shows an armed Palestinian in an alleyway.
"Omar, Marcus and I did not see any armed resistance. I viewed the AP video footage. Looking at the gaffitti on the walls in the clip, Marcus and I located the exact alleyway pictured in the clip. It is in Balata in an area near where the jeeps were. So it seems that the clip is real. Marcus still has some doubts based on the overall shortness and poor quality of the clip, but the location is consistent. From this position though the gunman would not have been able to hit the window of the boy's home. We cannot deny the pressence of this gunman, but it is clear that the shot he is seen to fire was not the shot that killed the boy."
We do apologize for these mistakes. It looks like we can't really tell where the bullet that killed Khaled came from. What we do know is that there is no excuse for the kind of terror that the Israeli military continues to impose on Palestinians of the Balata refugee camp and other refugee camps, villages, towns and cities throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. There is no excuse for purposely blocking or otherwise holding up an ambulance and medical workers. We do hope you stay with us, continue to disseminate our reports and contact your governmental representatives in protest of these policies that your governments directly support financially and diplomatically and the international community supports indirectly with its silence.
Below is a journal entry from Marcus written hours after Khaled's death, followed by a deconstruction of a Reuters report on Khaled's killing.
In solidarity & struggle,
Huwaida INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT www.palsolidarity.org ================= Saturday March 27, 2004 Balata refugee camp, Nablus
The army had come in at night and occupied three houses - one in central Balata. Around 9am the army came down to the northern entrance to Balata so we hung around, watched, took pictures - lots of boys throwing stones - then army left - came back 5 minutes later. Then they came to the southern entrance and there were many boys throwing rocks - the army used stun grenades and tear gas. A familiar smell. One brave lad picked up a tear gas canister and threw it back and the army had to retreat to avoid it. Then they entered the camp, presumably to evacuate the soldiers in the occupied house; the confrontation got fierce - shabab hurling stones at the military jeep and Israeli soldiers shooting up the streets and into the air.
Then we heard some women wailing and a man carried a young child out into the street right next to us who was covered in blood - it felt like it was in slow motion - he walked up to an army jeep and held the child up to the window and then walked up the middle of the road towards an ambulance - the women were tearing at their hair and screaming - then amidst all this, the unbelievable happened, a jeep raced up to the man carrying the child, drove in front of him and pinned him to a shop front, while another jeep blocked the way of the ambulance. All hell broke loose then, a lot of gunfire and many youths attacking the jeeps - I am shocked that no one else got shot. The ambulancemen managed to get the man and boy into the ambulance, but the jeeps manouvered again to block the ambulance, but had to deal with a lot of very angry boys with more stun grenades and tear gas and the ambulan
The boy had been sitting at his window and had been shot right through the throat, he was pronounced dead on arrival at Rafidia hospital in Nablus. I hope to God this was an accident and he had not been targetted on purpose by a soldier.
I went with a local organiser/cameraman to the hospital to see the family. I can't find the words to say here how I feel, except numb and dreamy now writing this to you. Once more, what can I say to these people when they ask me why? How can this be happening? What had this boy done? Why did the soldiers block the mans way and the ambulances way? Why is the world allowing this to happen? I am usually lost for words and hope that a touch on the arm and a sympathetic look will mean something. What does it mean to say that I am so very sorry, I am so ashamed of my government, could I say that I share some of their pain, that I have three young daughters myself, and am trying with others to raise awareness back home, doing my little bit to stop this madness. I don't know.
The boy, Khaled, was cleaned up and wrapped up, paperwork was sorted and then we took him back to Balata in a convoy, to his house, then to the mosque and then to be buried in Balata's overcrowded burial ground. The third burial in this refugee camp since I have been here this week.
The press reports are saying that it was Palestinian gunmen who accidentally shot the boy while resisting the army and that they offerred to take the boy to hospital in an army ambulance but it was refused, lies, damn lies, the usual story. I was right there and I only saw the army firing randomly about and stopping the ambulance.
If you find all this hard to believe I can understand, I was there and still a big part of me is wondering if this can really be true? can people really do these things? did I imagine it or am I dreaming? I feel so grateful in this moment that my three daughters, my local community, are relatively safe in the UK.
I feel tired in this moment, though I remember feeling so angry earlier and then really sad and lost and then okay and calm. While I was sitting on the floor in the hospital trying to figure it all out some students came up and talked to me and said I had beautiful eyes, which cheered me up a little. Little Khaled, 6 years old, was shot around 10am and his precious lifeless body was in our earth by 4pm and what can I say about this here and now?
I am sitting here wondering what more to write about today - perhaps about my fear? or about the food I ate, or try to find something positive? or about how I miss being home and away from all this, yet I cannot imagine life there either. Or about how things can never be the same again and what can I do about these things? and yet life goes on here - I don't know how these people cope - but they do - a tribute to the human spirit I guess. I could get sarcastic or humourous or place blame - but you can make your own minds up about these events.
Apart from being so grateful for internationals just being here, many palestinians plead with me to raise awareness at home, talk to people.
One person said to me "Why are the eyes of the world closed?"
We are trying to open them to the truth.
Marcus x ===================
I am copying below the Reuters report of the shooting of the little boy in Balata and commenting on each part as an eye witness - please circulate as widely as possible. My comments start with my name and are bracketed and in italics. (This formatting may be lost.)
NABLUS, West Bank (Reuters) - A six-year-old Palestinian boy has been shot dead after a Palestinian gunman opened fire at an Israeli military jeep during a raid in a West Bank refugee camp, the Israeli army says.
(Marcus - myself and colleagues, eyewitnesses to the entire military raid saw no such thing at the time of the incident.)
Television footage taken of the incident by foreign television networks showed a gunshot ricocheting off an armoured Israeli jeep towards an upper floor of an adjacent building.
(Marcus - no such footage has been seen by anyone, or broadcast)
Twenty seconds later women's screams could be heard. Moments later, a Palestinian holding the limp body of a boy with blood on his face and neck is seen outside the building. A Palestinian gunman was filmed in an alley minutes before the incident.
(Marcus - The footage of the supposed gunman is available on the web and is extremely hazy and unclear, unlike the rest of the footage of this incident which is broadcast quality - why?)
Palestinian residents said the dead boy, Khalil Walwil, was killed either when soldiers on a nearby hill opened fire at the building while he stood by a window or when troops shot at Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli forces in the camp.
(Marcus - Under these extreme circumstances we cannot be sure exactly whose bullet killed Khaled - but either way if Israel was not illegally occupying Palestine and the army had not been illegally occupying houses and indiscriminately shooting live ammunition in a small and heavily populated area this would not have happened.)
An Israeli military commander, who was in the jeep that came under fire, said the boy was killed when a Palestinian gunman in an alley shot at his jeep as forces left Balata camp. The commander said none of his troops returned fire.
(Marcus - This statement is completely untrue - The boy was shot well before the army left Balata camp - and the army were shooting live ammunition around throughout the raid.)
"I did not fire back at him (the gunman) because his fire was not accurate," said the commander, who under military regulations could only be identified as Lieutenant Colonel Guy.
(Marcus - This statement is not only untrue but does not make sense - if the gunman's bullet was supposed to have ricocheted off the jeep then his fire was accurate.)
"About 10 seconds after that I heard from behind my jeep terrible screams from a Palestinian woman. I turned around and I saw a family with a few people screaming. The father held his son who was covered in blood and they ran to ambulances there".
(Marcus - the man walked up the road towards an ambulance, what this paragraph fails to mention is that, unbelievably, one jeep drove in front of the man and tried top block his way and moments later this jeep along with another blocked the ambulance.)
Television footage showed Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli army vehicles as they drove through the camp minutes earlier but there was no indication the soldiers had responded.
(Marcus - we have footage showing the army firing off at least 20 live rounds and numerous sound bombs and tear gas canisters throughout the incursion.)
The boy's uncle Said Walwil said his nephew was killed when troops on a nearby hill fired at the house. Other residents said the boy was killed when soldiers fired at stone thowers.
The boy died of his wounds on the way to hospital. Palestinian medics said that soldiers stopped the ambulance transporting the boy to hospital for 15 minutes.
(Marcus - Why was the ambulance stopped? This is immoral and illegal.)
The army said it was checking the report. A spokesman said that Lieutenant Colonel Guy had offered to transport the boy to hospital in a military ambulance but family members had refused.
(Marcus - None of this makes sense - several of us saw the whole incident - no such discussion and refusal took place between the army and the family. How could the army imagine that one of their ambulances could have driven into Nablus? Also there was a Palestinian ambulance right there which the army should have allowed to do its work instead of obstructing it.)
Israeli soldiers raided the camp to search for militants planning suicide bombings, but left empty-handed.
(Marcus - the army had entered Balata camp on the previous night and occupied three houses - one in central Balata near where Khaled was shot. We have clear video footage of a jeep driving to the junction where the ambulance was later boxed in and picking up 4 soldiers a few minutes before the boy's shooting.)