Shattered Lives ∞ Shattered Limbs

By Mark Hage
Vermonters for Justice in Palestine


In 2018, Israeli soldiers killed 290 Palestinians living under military occupation, including 55 minors. 254 were killed in the Gaza Strip.

According to B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights organization:

An analysis of the incidents in which Palestinians were killed over the last year [in Gaza and the West Bank] reveals that most were the result of the reckless open-fire policy implemented by Israel’s security forces. This policy includes, among other things, shooting to kill incidents defined as “attacks”, giving patently unlawful orders that permit live fire at unarmed demonstrators by the Gaza-Israel fence, and bombarding densely populated areas within Gaza. Despite the predictable lethal outcomes, Israel has refused to alter its policy.



Our American tax dollars at work

4 Dec. 2018: Muhammad Habali (22): fatally shot in the back of the head. A mentally challenged Palestinian from Tulkarm refugee camp, Habali posed no danger to Israeli occupation forces. Video footage clearly shows “there was no disturbance whatsoever in Habali’s immediate vicinity at the time he was shot” and the soldiers who fired at him “were in no danger: the shooting was unjustified and illegal. 

11 Dec. 2018: Ahmad Yassir Sabri Abu Abed (4): fatally shot, and dies of his wounds four days after being hit by shrapnel after Israeli snipers opened fire on protesters in Khan Younis, Gaza. The boy, who was in his father’s arms, was struck in the head, chest and abdomen.

11 Dec. 2018: ‘Omar ‘Awwad (24): fatally shot in the back by Israeli forces while driving away from them after leaving work smelting copper. “The police claim that the forces fired live bullets at ‘Awwad’s back because they suspected he had attempted to run them over. None of the forces were injured. None provided ‘Awwad with medical assistance.”

13 Dec. 2018: Hamdan ‘Ardah (58): fatally shot by soldiers while he was “driving to the industrial zone in al-Birah, apparently after he was startled by their presence. It was reported by the media that the older gentleman accidentally ran into a soldier, who was lightly injured. The soldiers fired at ‘Ardah intensively and did not stop even after he had been hit and the car had come to a halt. They prevented a medical crew that arrived on the scene from approaching ‘Ardah.


14 December 2018: Mahmoud Yousif Nakhlah (18): Fatally shot by soldiers while participating in a peaceful protest at the al-Jalazone refugee camp, north of Ramallah. “One of the Israeli soldiers randomly and heavily opened fire at the demonstrators from a distance of 50 meters.  As a result, Mahmoud was hit with a bullet in the abdomen.

20 Dec. 2018: QassemAbassi (17): fatally shot in the back while traveling in a car to Nablus with three relatives, as part of a leisure trip to Nablus. He was killed after driving away from a West Bank checkpoint. The soldiers were in no danger – neither when the car was near the checkpoint nor as it drove away.


B’Tselem: This ongoing profound disregard for the lives of Palestinians is broadly backed by senior policy-makers in the military, the government and the judicial system. As a rule, no one is held accountable for these incidents, and the military law enforcement system whitewashes them. Given this sweeping support and the lack of accountability for these deaths, such incidents will continue.


Findings of report presented in early January to United Nations by Defense of Children International/Palestine on the killing of Palestinian children in Gaza, 2018:


“In the overwhelming majority of cases, DCIP was able to confirm children did not present any imminent, mortal threat of serious injury when killed by Israeli forces. The report concludes Israeli forces and officials are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international law for the killing Palestinian child protesters in Gaza.


Israeli snipers have a preference when targeting the Palestinian body to inflict serious injury – the legs. During the first eight months of the “Great March of Return” protests in Gaza, from late March through early December, 10,511 Palestinians were shot and wounded by Israeli forces. At least 6,392, or roughly 60 percent, were struck in the lower limbs, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health. More than 5,800 of the injured were hit by live ammunition.

One reporter described the situation in Gaza this way: “It is now common to see young men walking through dilapidated streets on crutches. Most have legs bandaged or fitted with a metal frame called a fixator, which uses pins or screws that are inserted into fractured bones to help stabilize them.”

Before the close of December, physicians deployed to Gaza by Doctors Without Borders had treated over 3,100 Palestinians shot in the legs; many of these patients, it said, will need additional surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation services.

These are complex and serious injuries that do not quickly heal,” the group noted. “Their severity and the lack of appropriate treatment in Gaza’s crippled health system means that infection is a high risk, especially for patients with open fractures. The consequences of these wounds…will be lifelong disability for many. And if infections are not tackled, then the results could be amputation or even death.”