BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and killed a young Palestinian woman at the Zaatara military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday after she allegedly attempted to stab Israeli border police. The slain woman was identified by local sources as 23-year-old Rahiq Shaji Birawi from the village of Asira al-Shamaliya north of Nablus city.
(Photo: Israeli police)
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Birawi approached Israeli border guards stationed at the Tappuah junction -- the Israeli term for the area around the checkpoint -- when they fired warning shots into the air. After she "ignored their directives and their calls for her to stop," Birawi allegedly pulled out a knife, and Israeli forces opened live fire and "neutralized" her.Al-Samri first said that the woman "seemingly" died, and confirmed her death a short time later.
The head of Asira al-Shamaliya's local council, Nasser Jawabra, told Ma'an that Birawi "had never been affiliated to any political parties," and said that she was married to a man currently residing in the United States.
Jawabra said that Birawi’s father was detained by Israeli forces at a military checkpoint near Tulkarem as he returned home from his construction job after being notified of his daughter’s death.
Birawi became the 234th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers since a wave of violence spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015.The violence has been largely characterized by alleged, attempted, and actual small-scale attacks committed by Palestinians against uniformed Israeli soldiers or police, mainly using knives or similar weapons.
Rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in a number of cases, denouncing what they have termed as a "shoot-to-kill" policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner -- amid a backdrop of impunity for Israeli forces who have committing the killings.
Dozens of the alleged attackers have been shot at military checkpoints, included at least three who were shot dead at Zaatara.
Reports from Israeli media have claimed in the past that a number of Palestinians -- particularly women -- were killed or injured at checkpoints after they intentionally "provoked" Israeli forces to shoot them in order to commit suicide, with Israeli forces admitting in some cases that no weapons were found on the alleged attackers' person after they were shot.
Wednesday's killing came amid severe restrictions on Palestinian movement across the occupied territory over the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and tensions surrounding holy sites in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the high holiday season last year were a main contributor to the uptick in violence.