‘They took everything from me’: Israel destroyed his house. A month later they shot and paralyzed his son.

When Israeli soldiers arrived to the tiny hamlet of Khirbet al-Rakeez in the southern Hebron hills on Friday morning, the Palestinian residents braced themselves for the next misfortune to face their small village. 

Things like home demolitions, settler attacks, and land confiscation are nothing new to the residents of the hamlet and the surrounding villages. Rather, it’s an unfortunate reality of everyday life living under Israeli occupation. 

In fact, in November, Israeli forces embarked on a demolition campaign in the village, destroying seven homes and structures belonging to the village’s residents. One of those residents was Rasmi Abu Aram. 

So when Abu Aram saw Israeli soldiers and officials from the Civil Administration — the Israeli agency in charge of enforcing demolitions in the West Bank —  arrive at his neighbors’ doorstep on Friday morning, he was filled with unease.

“The Israelis came to deliver a demolition notice to my neighbor, saying that his house was built ‘illegally’ without an Israeli permit,” Abu Aram told Mondoweiss, adding that order allegedly gave his neighbor 96 hours to evacuate the home.

Shortly after the Israeli authorities arrived, Abu Aram said, he began to hear the screams of his neighbor’s wife and children coming from their home, at which point Abu Aram ran out of his house to help them, along with his 24-year-old son Harun.  

“The soldiers were pushing and shoving them, even the woman and the children, and were being really aggressive. Out of nowhere, the soldiers just started throwing belongings out of the house and confiscating things,” Abu Aram said, adding that according to the demolition order, the soldiers were not supposed to be evacuating the house at that time. 

As the situation escalated, Rasmi and his son Harun started breaking up the neighbors and the soldiers, attempting to stop the soldiers from taking any more of the families’ belongings. That’s when one of the soldiers grabbed an electricity generator, and began dragging it towards the Israeli authorities’ vehicles. 

“We immediately started trying to pull the generator back towards us, because this generator powers our home and our neighbor’s home,” Abu Aram said. “We need it to power our lights, refrigerators and appliances, and heaters now during the winter. We can’t live without it.”

That’s when Israeli soldiers shoved Abu Aram to the ground, he told Mondoweiss. “When my son Harun saw them push me to the ground he became enraged, and started yelling and  pulling even harder on the generator to try and get it back from the soldiers,” he said. 

In the midst of the chaos, captured in a video now circulated on news channels around the globe, one Israeli soldier can be seen lifting his rifle towards the group of unarmed Palestinians, including Rasmi and Harun Abu Aram, and firing his weapon. 

A second of silence is followed by screams even more intense than before, as the group realizes that the young Harun had been shot in the neck and had collapsed to the ground. 

“They just shot him out of nowhere. And for what? For a generator that means nothing to them?” Abu Aram asked, his voice shaking. “They shot him for no reason.”

‘On the brink of death’

Harun Abu Aram is currently on life support and is in critical condition in a Palestinian hospital in Hebron. His father Rasmi says he’s teetering “between life and death,” and is likely paralyzed from the neck down. 

“Right now he’s unable to move his arms and legs,” Abu Aram told Mondoweiss. “The doctors say the bullet entered and exited through his neck, causing a spinal cord injury that’s probably paralyzed him.”

A choked up Abu Aram said he “can’t believe this is real life.” 

“My son Harun is so young, he’s only 24. He had his whole life ahead of him, and now he might die because the soldiers had nothing better to do than shoot him over a generator,” Abu Aram said. 

The Israeli army said in a statement following the shooting, that “a violent riot” was instigated when the troops were “evacuating an illegal building” in at-Tuwani village, claiming that the soldiers were allegedly attacked by Palestinians with a “massive amount of rocks.”

The video of the event, which has been widely circulated on social media, does not appear to show any rock throwing from the few Palestinians who were present during the scuffle, let alone “massive amounts” of rocks throwing.

Rasmi Abu Aram maintains that his son Harun and the others who were involved in the confrontation were unarmed, and did not throw rocks or instigate any type of violence against the soldiers. 

“You can see in the video that Harun is unarmed, he has nothing in his hands,” Abu Aram said. “He had no sort of weapon or anything that put the soldiers in danger. All he had were his bare hands, which he was simply using to try to save the generator.”

Abu Aram insisted that the events that transpired before the video recording began, were a testament to the “aggression” of the soldiers that he said started right off the bat, as soon as the soldiers arrived to his neighbor’s house. 

“They were being violent and horrible from the beginning. You could tell they wanted to come and cause trouble and hurt people,” he said, adding that “this was not a mistake. They were intending to shoot someone, and they wanted to kill.”

Abu Aram alleged that even after his son Harun had been shot, the soldiers shot at the tires of the vehicle that was taking him to the hospital, forcing the group to change vehicles in order to evacuate Harun. 

That, along with the fact that the soldiers did not provide any first aid or medical assistance to Harun, is proof that “they were the clear aggressors in the situation,” Abu Aram said.

While the Israeli army says the incident is “under investigation,” Abu Aram says he has little hope for justice when it comes to internal Israeli investigations, saying “they aren’t going to punish their own soldiers.”

The accusatory nature of the statement from the military after the incident has only confirmed Abu Aram’s suspicions. “They are already trying to blame us for what happened, just like they always do when their soldiers attack and kill Palestinians.”

Abu Aram said that he hopes to file a case against the soldier responsible for shooting his son, but for now, is focusing on keeping Harun alive. 

“Right now we don’t know if he’s going to live or die,” Abu Aram told Mondoweiss. 

“In November Israeli destroyed my house, and now they have almost killed my son. I don’t know what they will do next, but this is the occupation,” he said. “It feels like my life has gone black. I can build my house again, but I can’t get my son back.”

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