IDF, Palestinians clash at activist's funeral

Hundreds gather for funeral of Mustafa Tamimi who died a day earlier from wounds sustained during W. Bank demonstration.

Mustafa Tamimi being shot with tear gas in Nebi Salah 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Haim Schwartzenberg)
Mustafa Tamimi being shot with tear gas in Nebi Salah 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Haim Schwartzenberg)
Soldiers and mourners clashed Sunday on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, after the funeral of Palestinian activist Mustafa Abd el-Razzak al-Tamimi, 28.
He was fatally injured by an IDF tear gas canister fired by soldiers from close range during Friday’s weekly protest in Nabi Salih across the road from the Halamish settlement.
Tamimi was taken to the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva for treatment and was pronounced dead after a few hours.
Photos of the injury were widely spread on Facebook after an Israeli cameraman documented the shooting.
The IDF is still investigating the incident.
Tamimi worked as a taxi driver and was a regular participant in the weekly demonstrations at Nabi Salih. He was engaged to a cousin in the US.
They intended to marry next summer.
After Tamimi’s burial, angry men and youngsters went down the hill and threw rocks at the soldiers stationed at the village entrance.
The IDF fired tear gas and skunk water in response. An Israeli activist and a Palestinian were lightly injured. The army, along with border police, arrested four Israeli activists who blocked a road to keep the IDF from advancing.
The clashes marked the end of a long string of events, which began with a large funeral ceremony in Ramallah.
Tamimi’s body was then placed in an ambulance and driven to Nabi Salih, accompanied by a procession of cars, driven by relatives and mourners.
He was wrapped in a Palestinian flag, and his head was covered with a white and black keffiyeh.
At the village entrance many other mourners joined the procession on foot and marched to Tamimi’s family’s house.
They chanted national slogans.
They asked Tamimi to rest in peace and warned they would avenge his death.
Yellow Fatah flags were erected and shouts of “Allahu Akbar” were voiced. Some of the men present were unable to hold back their tears.
Tamimi is survived by his parents, four brothers and two sisters. His brother Odai, 19, was released from Israeli prison at the request of the Governorate of Ramallah so that he could mourn with his family. He was 10 days short of finishing a nine-month sentence.
At the family’s house, mourning women were waiting to have a final look at Tamimi. His mother, Ikhlas, 50, collapsed when her eldest son was taken from her house for the last time.
“What justice is this that a 28-year-old is buried underground?” she asked.
At the Nabi Salih mosque, Tamimi’s body was placed on the ground as village men stood for the noon prayer and a special prayer for the dead.
Friday had marked the second anniversary of the popular resistance activities in Nabi Salih.
Bashir al-Tamimi, the head of Nabi Salih village council, told The Jerusalem Post the Israeli government wanted to deliver a message to them.
“They [IDF] want us to be frightened, but we are not... We were expecting this to happen from the day we started our weekly activities,” Bashir said as he was standing outside the village mosque.
The group marched out of the mosque to where young men laid Tamimi in his final resting place. As they covered his body with earth women were ululating happily that Mustafa is a martyr who will go to heaven.
After the burial, Fatah central committee member Mahmoud al-Aloul told the crowd Tamimi was killed in cold blood from a close distance.
“Mustafa did not believe in violence, but what other options have the [Israeli] occupation left us with?” he asked.
He also condemned Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s comments against the Palestinian people, saying these remarks prove Israelis and Zionists control US foreign policy.
The popular resistance will not change, Aloul said.
“Mustafa is not the first, but we hope the last martyr,” he said.
Tamimi’s father, Abd el-Razzak, a 56-year-old taxi driver, said he believes his son was targeted.
“Four months ago, the barbaric [Israeli] army forcefully entered our house and shot a live bullet at Mustafa as he escaped from the house quickly,” he said.
Abd el-Razzak had a message for the Israeli people.
“Wake up, you should know the truth of your army and settlers,” he said, adding that he always demonstrated against the killing of innocent Israelis by Palestinians. “Why did they kill an innocent man protesting to protect his land?” he asked. The family will sue the IDF and the soldier who shot him, he said.
“I hope he [the soldier] is not bragging that he killed my son,” Abd el- Razzak said.
In the future, the mother will give her children two options: “Either we go together to the demonstration, or they don’t go at all,” she said.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.