Palestinians condemn ‘execution’ at West Bank checkpoint

Over a dozen Palestinians martyred in January 2023

Hundreds of people attended Ahmad Kahlas funeral after he was shot at point-blank range on January 15, 2023. — AFP
Hundreds of people attended Ahmad Kahla's funeral after he was shot at point-blank range on January 15, 2023. — AFP

RAMMUN: Palestinian officials Sunday condemned what they labelled the “execution” of a Palestinian man at an Israeli checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, while the army said he was shot during a “violent confrontation”.

The ministry slammed the “heinous execution” of Ahmad Kahla, 45, who was shot dead in the morning by troops near the village of Silwad north of Ramallah.

The Israeli military said soldiers opened fire during a “violent confrontation” in which an unnamed person had “attempted to take hold of one of the soldiers’ weapons”.

The man’s son, Qusai Kahla, said he was in the car with his father when they were stopped at the checkpoint.

“Soldiers came and they sprayed pepper spray on my face and pulled me out of the car,” the 18-year-old said at the family home in Rammun village.

“I don’t know what happened after that,” he said. “I found out from my uncle that my dad was killed.”

Israel’s military, meanwhile, said the Palestinians had refused to stop and soldiers used “riot dispersal means in order to detain one of the suspects in the vehicle”.

Kahla was shot in the neck, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The army said no troops were hurt.

A military spokesperson said they had no information to add regarding the weapons used to stop the vehicle, or whether the civilian was unarmed when he was killed.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported soldiers forced Kahla out of his vehicle before shooting him at “point blank” range.

Shot “going to work”

Dozens of mourners gathered for Kahla’s funeral on Sunday, an AFP correspondent said, with some calling for revenge.

The widow, Zahiya Kahla, said her husband was not carrying a weapon when he was killed.

“He didn’t have a knife with him,” she told AFP. “He had food with him and was going to work.”

Kahla’s death brings to 13 the number of Palestinians killed in the territory so far this month, the majority shot by Israeli forces, according to an AFP tally.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said the Israeli leadership had made it “easy for soldiers to kill any Palestinian without them posing any danger to the occupation soldiers”.

Israel’s most right-wing government in history was sworn in last month, including ministers known for their anti-Palestinian remarks who have taken over key powers in the West Bank.

The rising toll this month follows the deadliest year in the West Bank since United Nations records began in 2005.

A surge in bloodshed last year saw at least 26 Israelis and 200 Palestinians killed across Israel and the Palestinian territories, according to an AFP tally.

More than 150 of the fatalities were in the West Bank.