Raed lit a cigarette. That’s when Israeli troops shot him and left him to die on the side of the road

11 Sep

IDF soldiers shot a 39-year-old Palestinian gardener, but they didn’t bother to check their handiwork. For an hour and a half he lay dying or dead on the road – until his teenage son found him.

Youssef, Raed Jidallah’s son, crouches in the spot where he found his father's body, with the victim's friend, Mahdi Zaidan.
Youssef, Raed Jidallah’s son, crouches in the spot where he found his father’s body, with the victim’s friend, Mahdi Zaidan.Credit: Alex Levac

By Gideon Levy & Alex Levac, Haaretz (Israeli daily newspaper) 11 September 2021

Youssef Jidallah walks along the trail of bloodstains and with his phone, photographs his father’s last drops of blood. Next, the 15-year-old aims the device at the edges of the road, the heap of garbage, the stones and the pair of blue rubber gloves lying there. This is where Youssef found his father last week, dead or dying, lying on the roadside. That’s how the boy found his father. Picture it.

It had been dark, and his father’s friend, Mahdi Zaidan – who was concerned because he’d arranged to meet with him and Raed had disappeared – phoned him, not realizing that he and Youssef were standing a few meters from the man’s body. Mahdi and Youssef heard Raed’s phone ring. When they aimed a flashlight toward the source of the sound, they saw, to their horror, the body of the 39-year-old Raed lying in the roadside ditch.

At the time, the Israel Defense Forces soldiers who killed him, from the vaunted Kfir occupation brigade, were gathered around a campfire a few dozen meters from their victim. None of them, apparently, had considered going over to check whether the person they had shot at was alive and might be in need of medical assistance. The soldiers feigned astonishment when Youssef and Mahdi shouted to them that there was a body nearby. The soldiers had shot Raed Jidallah as they would shoot a rabid dog – and then also treated him they way they would have treated the dog’s carcass.

Afterward they claimed that Raed had tried to light a fire. The only thing Raed lit that evening was a Marlboro; he was a heavy smoker. But for the Kfir soldiers that was enough to start shooting from a distance in the dark. And it was also enough that their victim was presumed to be a Palestinian for them not to bother checking the results of their action. 

Raed was a resident of East Jerusalem, carried a blue – Israeli – ID card and was the friend of many Israelis in Savyon, in Maccabim-Reut, in Yehud, in Kfar Uriah, in Kfar Bin Nun and in Modi’in, whose gardens he tended. Raed Jadallah was an innocent gardener whom soldiers executed without thinking twice.

Raed Jidallah.
Raed Jidallah.Credit: Reproduction by Alex Levac

In the courtyard of an old stone house in the village of Beit Ur al-Tahta, a bit over the Green Line from Maccabim-Reut, a silver-gray Mazda van with Israeli plates is parked. It belongs to “Guri Gardening, development and maintenance of gardens, computerized irrigation systems, ready-made lawns, fruit trees and tree pruning.” Raed worked with this van. His youngest, 3-year-old Mohammed, climbs onto the vehicle, which is loaded with gardening equipment – a hoe, a rake, bags of fertilizer – and asks where Daddy is. Raed didn’t have a driver’s license, so his wife, Yasmin, or one of his workers, drove.null

The couple have three sons and a daughter; one of the boys is named Amir, after his dad’s friend from Savyon. Raed and Yasmin, 34, who is a native of East Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood, moved to the Shoafat refugee camp after they wed, in 2003, and the couple’s home is still there. The house in Beit Ur al-Tahta belongs to Raed’s family and is where the family meets. They were gathered here on Tuesday of last week, too. A relative was getting married in the village the next day, and they had arrived a day early. Raed was working in nearby Modi’in together with one of his crew members, a gardener from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud.

During the day, Raed called Yasmin a few times, as he always did, to ask how she and the children were, and whether they were already in Beit Ur al-Tahta. In the last call, around 8 P.M., Yasmin asked her husband what he would like for dinner; he replied that he would decide after getting home. Raed then spoke with his good friend Mahdi to arrange for him to pick him up at the checkpoint as soon as he called. The access road to Beit Ur al-Tahta has been blocked for years by a steel barrier and concrete cubes. The village’s residents can only sneak across the border by foot and then call a taxi from the village, which is about two kilometers away. The two friends said they would speak again shortly, and then Mahdi would come to pick up Raed.

Mahdi works in a garage opposite the house that belongs to Raed’s family. He is a captivating young man who speaks good Hebrew. That evening, when Raed called, he didn’t hear the phone, because it was in his car. Raed phoned once more and then again. He was already at the village’s checkpoint, next to the Maccabim crossing, and he wanted to get to his family. When Mahdi discovered that Raed had called, he immediately called back, but there was no answer. Mahdi started to worry. He kept calling, but got no response. Shortly afterward he decided to drive to the checkpoint. He got there at 10:05 P.M., but drivers who were waiting at the site advised him to leave at once – they’d heard shots and there were soldiers around. Afraid to approach, Mahdi returned to the village. By now he was deeply concerned about Raed, whose phone he continued to call, with no answer. Mahdi felt he had to go back to the checkpoint.

On the way there he saw Raed’s son Youssef standing on the road next to the house; the family was now worried, too. He suggested that the two of them go to the checkpoint. They parked next to the concrete cubes that block the road and continued on foot. It was dark and they used their flashlights to illuminate the way, the son and the friend who were looking for a person dear to them both.

Three of Raed Jidallah’s four children: Youssef, Mohammed and Amir.
Three of Raed Jidallah’s four children: Youssef, Mohammed and Amir.Credit: Alex Levac

On Monday this week we reenacted those minutes with the two of them, near the checkpoint. Youssef was the first to notice the blood on the road and called out to Mahdi. This week, the trail of blood was still clearly visible from a distance of some 45 meters. It marked the route by which Raed had fled for his life, until he collapsed, bleeding, by the roadside. 

When they found Raed, who seemed to them to be lifeless, Youssef flung himself on his father, hugging him and screaming, and Mahdi summoned an Israel Magen David Adom ambulance from Modi’in, sending it the GPS coordinates of their exact location. He then walked over to a group of five or six soldiers who were sitting nearby around a small campfire on concrete slabs strewn around the checkpoint. The soldiers aimed their rifles at him and shouted, “Wafeq! Wafeq!” – “Stop!” Two of them spoke Arabic; they were probably Druze. 

“You killed my friend,” Mahdi burst out at them. “He is Israeli. He came to a family wedding and you killed him.” A soldier cursed him in Arabic. Mahdi thinks that perhaps they didn’t know they had killed him. They shot in the dark and then took no interest in whether they had hit him and how badly.

The ambulance Mahdi summoned arrived and parked on Highway 443, on the other side of the checkpoint blocking the entrance to the village. The soldiers, the paramedics, Youssef and Mahdi walked to where Raed lay. The paramedics pronounced Raed dead and covered his body. In the meantime, many people had arrived from the village, after hearing about the incident. Yasmin knew only that her husband had been wounded. No one had the courage to tell her the truth. Youssef, the 15-year-old, went into shock and fainted. 

The body was taken to a hospital in Ramallah, and Mahdi went to tell Yasmin the awful news. “And that’s how the story ended,” Mahdi said in his Hebrew, as we stood at the place where his friend had lain for an hour and a half, dying.

Raed Jidallah's 3-year-old son Mohammed, in his father's truck.
Raed Jidallah’s 3-year-old son Mohammed, in his father’s truck. Credit: Alex Levac

The IDF Spokesperson told Haaretz on the day after the incident that while waiting in ambush in an area where Motolov cocktails had been thrown at the beginning of the week, soldiers from the Kfir Brigade had spotted a suspect who “was walking alone and lit something, causing a small fire.” According to the army, the soldiers shot at the suspect and he fled. The IDF added that when the soldiers reached the spot where the suspect had stood, they put out the fire, and did not see bloodstains or a Molotov cocktail. “An hour and a half later, at around 10:30 P.M., a person with bullet wounds in the leg and stomach arrives. The force summons an ambulance, and he is pronounced dead 20 minutes later. A blue ID card is found on him.”

According to Mahdi’s testimony, that statement contains a series of lies. It was Mahdi who summoned the ambulance. The wounded Raed did not suddenly show up where the soldiers were – only his son and his friend, who took them to the body. 

Raed was hit by at least two bullets in the area of the waist. The soldiers apparently fired more than two rounds, according to drivers who heard the gunfire.

A photograph taken two days before Raed was killed shows him in a white shirt, sunglasses perched on his head, in a totally Israeli pose. 

“He loved Jews,” Yasmin says in her hesitant Hebrew. “He was wild about Jews. Every day he was at Jews’ places. Every day at Jews’ places. Why did they do that to him? Why? By my God, why?”

Link to original post: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-raed-lit-a-cigarette-then-israeli-soldiers-shot-him-and-left-him-to-die-on-the-side-1.10196726

Two of six escaped Palestinian political prisoners captured by Israel

BREAKING NEWS:

Palestine Chronicle September 11 2021

Palestinian political prisoners Yakub Qadri, (L) 49, and Mahmoud Al-Arda, 46, were arrested by Israeli forces. (Photo: via Social Media)

Two of the Palestinian political prisoners who broke out of the Israeli prison of Gilboa on September 6 have been caught by the Israeli police in Nazareth, according to Israeli media outlets.

The two political prisoners were reportedly extremely exhausted after six days of manhunt when they were caught by the Israeli Police on the outskirts of Nazareth, north of occupied Palestine.

The two were identified as Mahmoud Al-Arda, 46 years old, and Yakub Qadri, 49 years old. Both are from the northern West Bank province of Jenin and are already serving life in prison.

The remaining four prisoners currently remain at large, despite the massive Israeli manhunt across the northern West Bank and the 1948-occupied territories to locate their whereabouts.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

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