Fatal shooting of American-Palestinian teen in the occupied West Bank was unprovoked, witnesses say


AL-MAJRA AS-SHARQIYA, West Bank (AP) — The fatal shooting of an American-Palestinian teenager driving a pickup truck in the occupied West Bank was unprovoked, the sole passenger told The Associated Press, apparently describing the Israeli gunfire. I went. The rear end of the vehicle before overturning several times on a dirt road.

At least 10 bullets hit the truck, which was seen by The Associated Press after being examined by Israeli investigators. Most struck the rear windshield and bed of the truck, supporting 16-year-old Mohammed Salameh's account of the incident that killed his friend, 17-year-old Louisiana native Taufik Abdel Jabbar.

In an initial statement, Israeli police said Friday's shooting targeted people "allegedly involved in stone-throwing activities on Highway 60", the main thoroughfare in the West Bank. Police did not identify who fired the shots, but described the incident as "directly involving an off-duty law enforcement officer, a soldier, and a civilian."

Salameh denied that he and Abdel Jabbar were throwing stones and said that no attempt was made to arrest them.

Salameh – interviewed on Tuesday Hafeth, father of Abdel JabbarHe said he and his friend were driving on a dirt road several hundred meters from Highway 60 — in the family's native village of al-Majra ash-Sharqiya. He said that suddenly bullets were fired from behind the truck, which hit Abdel Jabbar.

Salameh said the pickup overturned several times, and he managed to get out and run back to the village for help.

Hafeth Abdel Jabbar said that when he arrived he found his son's lifeless body amid broken glass and blood stains in the pickup. He rejected the claim that his son had thrown the stones and called it a "big lie". He said even if the teenagers had thrown stones, they did not pose any imminent threat to the police, army or civilians as they were passing through the forest.

An Israeli police official told the AP on Wednesday that witness statements and the bullet holes in the back of the truck represent only one side of the story and that the investigation is ongoing. He declined to comment further. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case with news outlets.

The White House has called for a transparent investigation into the death, which comes after repeated US warnings that Israel should rein in Increasing violence against Palestinians in the region, The teen's family said US Embassy officials visited the village, took photographs of the car and questioned relatives.

on the scene

Salameh said the shootings began on Friday afternoon, when he and Abdel Jabbar decided to have a picnic in the family's fields – a common thing to do on sunny days.

They jumped into the family truck and drove out, he said, but realized they had forgotten the charcoal. Salameh said Abdel Jabbar turned the car on his way back to the village on a dirt road perpendicular to the highway - when bullets started flying through the rear windshield.

He said he survived when the bullets hit the vehicle, with the fourth bullet hitting Taufik in the head. The car skidded off the road and overturned several times before coming to a stop, Salameh said.

A truck belonging to the family of American-Palestinian Taufik Abdel Jabbar is seen on a hill in the West Bank, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024.  (Photo/Hafeth Abdel Jabbar)

A truck belonging to the family of American-Palestinian Taufik Abdel Jabbar is seen on a hill in the West Bank, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Photo/Hafeth Abdel Jabbar)

A young man inspects a damaged truck with bullet holes bearing an Israeli investigative tag in al-Majra ash-Sharqiya in the West Bank, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024.  Taufik Abdel Jabbar, a Louisiana teenager, was fatally shot while driving.  Truck on January 19th.  (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

A young man inspects a damaged truck with bullet holes bearing an Israeli investigative tag in al-Majra ash-Sharqiya in the West Bank, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. Taufik Abdel Jabbar, a Louisiana teenager, was fatally shot while driving. Truck on January 19th. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Hafeth Abdel Jabbar said that when he and other relatives arrived, Israeli soldiers pointed their guns at them and made two of them take off their shirts to show that they were not a threat.

He said he ignored the soldiers and ran towards the car, which was parked upright. She said her son's body was scattered across the passenger side of the car, where blood pooled on the floor and spread to the back seat.

He said he and others started taking out his son's body and loaded it into an ambulance.

Taufik Abdel Jabbar was declared dead after being taken to Ramallah hospital. Video provided by his father shows the car about 500 meters away from the highway.

"I hope this is a scene that will never happen again," Hafeth said Tuesday. “There are six or seven Israeli soldiers pointing guns at you. I am telling you not to go to meet your son. Your 17-year-old son is inside the car, he is dead, he was shot from behind.”

in the village

The killing shocked the village, where most residents hold US passports and divide their time between the West Bank and the US

The roots of the Abdel Jabbar family there go back almost 200 years. Taufik's parents, Hafeth and Mona, grew up in the village. They moved to Gretna, Louisiana, where they married. The extended family owns a chain of shoe stores in the US

The family returned repeatedly to their ancestral home, an ornate stone complex located on the village hilltop. During the summer, Taufik and his siblings participated in traditional village life.

He was in his senior year in high school when he was murdered. His father said that while studying remotely for the past few months, he hoped to finish his studies in February and eventually enroll in college in the US.

Shortly after the shooting, Palestinian health officials identified the teen as Tawfiq Azaq, but his parents said the family's last name is Abdel Jabbar and that their son's first name is Tawfiq, an unusual spelling.

After Israeli investigators examined the vehicle on Saturday, the family took it back to the village, where it remained hidden under a tarpaulin. The AP saw the truck on Tuesday. The bullet holes were marked with Hebrew stickers left by the police forensic team. Later Tuesday, investigators took the truck, Abdel Jabbar said.

According to data from Israeli watchdog Yesh Din, killings of Palestinians in the West Bank are rarely investigated – and when they do thatProsecutions are unusual.

Also on Tuesday, Abdel Jabbar said, he accompanied Salameh to testify to Israeli investigators.

anger after shock

Four days after the shooting, friends and relatives gathered at the family home to pay their respects, piling platters of hummus and falafel and gathering around a fire with cups of Arabic coffee.

Taufik's uncle, Rami, said that in Louisiana, Taufik had refused to work in the family's shoe stores – spending time instead studying. Abdel Jabbar said his son wanted to become an engineer.

His mother, Mona, 36, said she wants to see those who killed her son prosecuted and punished in Israel, and said she is angry at the administration of US President Joe Biden.

"How many children does America have to kill to stop supporting Israel?". He said.

Rabia, 8, wears the pendant of her 17-year-old brother Tawfik Abdel Jabbar, a Louisiana teen who was shot dead last week on Tuesday in the family's Palestinian home village of al-Majra ash-Sharqiya, West Bank.  , January 23, 2024.  (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Rabia, 8, wears the pendant of her 17-year-old brother Tawfik Abdel Jabbar, a Louisiana teen who was shot dead last week on Tuesday in the family's Palestinian home village, al-Majra ash-Sharqiya, in the West Bank. , January 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

A card honoring Tawfik Abdel Jabbar, the 17-year-old Louisiana teen who was fatally shot last week, displayed next to a photo of him in memory of him in the family's Palestinian home village of al-Majra ash-Sharqiya Has gone.  , West Bank, Tuesday, January 23, 2024.  (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

A card honoring Tawfik Abdel Jabbar, the 17-year-old Louisiana teen who was fatally shot last week, displayed next to a photo of him in memory of him in the family's Palestinian home village of al-Majra ash-Sharqiya Has gone. , West Bank, Tuesday, January 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Biden's administration has Provided military and diplomatic assistance For Israel's war against Hamas. Above 25,000 PalestiniansNearly two-thirds of them, women and children, have been killed, according to Ministry of Health in Hamas-run Gaza, The war was started by Hamas 7 October attack on southern Israel, in which militants killed approximately 1,200 people and took 250 hostage.

the administration has Israeli settlers condemned the increasing violence Against Palestinians in the West Bank. According to Palestinian health officials, 370 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire since October 7. Most of the people were killed in clashes during nighttime raids by Israeli forces targeting suspected terrorists.

"My son, he was killed – I don't want to say by American bullets, but at least by American money," said Mona Abdel Jabbar. “We live there, we work there. Our business is there, we pay taxes there. So my taxes are going towards the bullet that killed my son.



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