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Awarta: Senseless Death of a Young Man

On Thursday, October 22, 2009, MPTers heard that an Awarta man, Mohamed Qawaru, age 29, had been killed on the road between Awarta and Al Agraba. Soldiers of the Israeli Occupation Forces appeared to be responsible. On Friday, October 23, internationals spoke with family in the Nablus hospital where the dead Awarta man had been taken. Later, an MPTer and other internationals interviewed a couple people in Awarta village about the circumstances of the death.

According to information gathered, it appears that about 4pm on Thursday , Mohamed Qawaru was driving his car on a narrow rural road, most probably a dirt road, to his olive grove in order to pick up his family who had gone there earlier to check on the olive harvest. This grove is in a rather isolated area near the illegal Israeli settlement of Itamar. There may or may not have been a flying checkpoint set up by the military. An Israeli military jeep ordered him to stop and when he did not, they pursued him for about two-thirds of a mile.

According to witnesses, after the Israeli military fired several shots at his car, the military jeep rammed his car, causing it to overturn and throwing him out of the car. The Israeli soldiers then kicked him, yelling at him to wake up. Palestinian farmers picking olives nearby and witnessing this were not allowed to give Qawaru any assistance nor were their pleas for humane treatment heeded.

After about an hour a military ambulance from a nearby military base arrived and tried to rescitate Qawaru, but he was too near death. When military ambulance personnel asked who had been driving the jeep, the Israeli officer replied that that’s not a question to be asked Soon after a Palestinian ambulance from Nablus arrived , but they too were unable to render any assistance to the dying man.

Mohamed Qawaru leaves a 21-year-old wife and two children, ages 2 and 2 months. He had either an Israel work permit or a commercial permit [to buy Israeli goods for resale] which is not common for men under 35 years of age. It is difficult to know why he did not stop for the military; perhaps he was fearful of losing his permit or perhaps it was difficult to stop quickly on a narrow, rocky dirt road. He was driving near his own village area near his own land, but in an occupied country that is of no consequence.

Mohamed Qawaru was buried on October 23, 2009 from an Awarta mosque with most of the village men present. (No pictures were taken by MPTers because it seemed inappropriate at the funeral.)

The internationals and MPT contacted Yesh Din, an Israeli legal organization that works on cases of the violation of Palestinian human rights , and B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights groups. Both have Palestinian personnel. Hopefully justice can be done.

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