Israeli soldiers shoot mentally disabled man

  • From: "" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2002 17:53:22 -0000

Troops also kill a Palestinian mother 

JERUSALEM Israeli military forces Monday shot and killed a 28-year-old
mentally handicapped man near the West Bank town of Tulkarm, according
to Palestinian witnesses and media reports. 

A mother leaving home with her children near the southern Gaza Strip
border with Egypt was shot and killed Sunday night, and the two
shootings were the latest in a series of incidents in which Israeli
soldiers have killed unarmed Palestinian civilians, according to
accounts by Palestinian medical officials and media reports. 

An Israeli military spokesman said soldiers shot the Palestinian man,
Basem Kou, after he ran away from soldiers who ordered him to stop near
a road they were patrolling. 

Kou, who was born mentally handicapped, was riding his donkey near the
entrance to his village of Beitlid, as he did most days, when soldiers
ordered him to stop, according to relatives. 

A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces said that a military patrol
near the Jewish settlement of Einav ordered a Palestinian whose "face
was covered and "was holding a long stick" to stop for questioning. 

The man turned and ran and soldiers chased him, the spokesman said. The
soldiers shouted for him to stop, then fired warning shots into the air.
When the man still refused to stop, soldiers "opened fire toward his
legs." The man collapsed and died from his wounds as Israeli soldiers
were attempting to administer medical aid, the spokesman said. Medical
authorities said Kou died from a bullet wound in his lower spine. 

Teachers from the village who came upon the soldiers and Kou's prone
body told the troops that he was mentally handicapped, according to Nael
Mustafa Kou, 25, his brother. 

"The soldiers said, 'That's not our problem. We told him to stop and he
didn't,'" according to Kou, reached by telephone. 

"He was mentally retarded, but he never harmed anyone," said Jihad Kou,
one of the dead man's cousins. "He was always leaving home on his donkey
and coming back." The cousin said Basem Kou had been stopped by soldiers
several times in the past, but had always been released. 

A military official said Israeli forces were investigating reports that
the 41-year-old Gaza mother, Nahla Aqel, was killed and her three
children wounded in an incident in which soldiers said they were firing
at "six suspicious Palestinians," three of whom they said were armed. 

Aqel was leaving her house on the edge of the city of Rafah with her
three children when an Israeli tank began firing its machine gun at the
family, according to Palestinian media reports. 

The tank was protecting the Jewish settlement of Rafiah Yam near Aqel's
home, Palestinian reporters said. Two bullets struck the mother in the
neck, according to medical officials who said she had died at the site
of the shooting. Her 4-year-old son suffered a shrapnel wound in the
head, her 14-year-old son was injured in the left arm and a bullet or
shrapnel lodged near the kidney of her 17-year-old daughter, medical
officials said. The three children were being treated at a local

An Israeli military official, who requested anonymity, said Israeli
soldiers had opened fire at three armed Palestinians who were among a
group of six "suspicious" Palestinians who "got close to Israeli forces
in the area of Rafah" at about 6:30 p.m. Monday. 

Warning of 'escalation' 

Palestinians warned Monday of a "dangerous escalation" of tensions if
Israel stopped the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, from celebrating
Christmas in Bethlehem for a second straight year, The Associated Press
reported from Ramallah in the West Bank. 

The warning came after an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Raanan
Gissin, said Arafat should not try to attend the Midnight Mass. But
Gissin stopped short of saying Israel would bar him from the city. 

Meanwhile, Israel's Supreme Court temporarily put on hold plans by the
government to demolish 15 Palestinian homes in the West Bank city of
Hebron to make way for a wider road connecting a Jewish settlement. The
government decided on the demolition after a Palestinian ambush in
Hebron that killed 12 Israelis. 

Source:  The Washington Post

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