An IDF soldier aiming at Hadeel al-Hashlamun after she refused requests to put down her weapon and lunged at soldiers.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An IDF investigation released on Sunday absolved soldiers of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting death of Hadeel al-Hashlamun, 18, who threatened soldiers with a knife at a checkpoint in Hebron on September 22.
The death of the young woman, clad in a black burqa, has been a subject of contention between Israelis and Palestinians, who claim that she posed no threat to the soldiers at the checkpoint and simply misunderstood their instructions.
The story went viral on social media after photographs showed soldiers with their rifles pointed, as she stood holding a school bag with no knife visible.
An IDF investigation, however, determined that she did have a knife and that the soldiers “acted with restraint, telling her to lower her knife repeatedly for several moments.”
It concluded that “the soldiers were right to open fire after the woman failed to lower her weapon.”
However, the investigation determined that “on a tactical level, soldiers could have aimed lower and fired fewer bullets than they did during the incident.”
Overall, army sources said that, according to the investigation’s conclusion, the unit did not commit any criminal wrongdoing, and acted in accordance with army protocol, though there is room for tactical improvement in the manner in which soldiers opened fire.
As it has done in other Palestinian knife incidents, the Palestinian Authority denied the woman was armed and then proceeded to level accusations at Israeli security personnel.
The PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department charged that Hashlamun did not have a knife. In a report it issued to the media on violent events in the last two months, it said that a Brazilian human rights observer who witnessed the event published a blog post with photos that showed the young woman’s innocence.
“I would like to emphasize that the victim never tried to attack any Israeli soldiers. She never tried to raise a knife and she never got close to any soldiers from the time she crossed Checkpoint 56 to when she was shot many times by the Israeli soldiers and fell unconscious on the ground. Before, during and after the incident I did not see any knife with the woman or around her on the ground,” the Brazilian human rights observer wrote.
Hashlamun’s father, Salah, a doctor, said, “I found 10 bullets in my daughter’s body.
The occupation forces left my daughter to bleed for more than 45 minutes... The bullets were found in her heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, waist, thigh and feet.” He added that he had never seen Israel present proof from the security cameras that recorded events at the checkpoint to show that his daughter had a knife.
Salah insisted, despite the evidence to the contrary, that his daughter was innocent.