Mustafa Tamimi, 28, died this morning at Belinson Hospital after sustaining critical wounds yesterday in the village of Nabi Saleh when an Israeli soldier fired a tear gas canister directly at his head from a short distance. His funeral will depart from Ramallah to Nabi Saleh tomorrow (Sunday) at 9:30 A.M. A protest against the killing will take place this evening in front of the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
***Please be aware some of the photos are very graphic***
Mustafa Tamimi was killed on Friday during a weekly protest in the village of Nabi Saleh when he was hit with a tear gas canister in the head from close range.
Witnesses say the soldier was less than ten meters away when he fired out of the back of a military jeep, causing severe damage to the orbital region of Tamimi’s face.
“Half of his face was destroyed, pretty much. It looked really, really bad and he lost a lot of blood,” said Lazar Simeonov, a photographer that was in the village at the time.
Friday marked the two-year anniversary of the weekly protests in Nabi Saleh. A larger crowd than usual had gathered for this week’s demonstration, including a delegation from the United Nations.
After more than an hour of tear gas salvos from the soldiers against the main core of unarmed demonstrators, a group of Palestinian youth had set up a small road block of stones on a main road, where they began throwing rocks.
An Israeli military bulldozer came to remove the hand-made obstacle with three Israeli jeeps to guard it. Palestinian youths began throwing stones at the bulldozer when Israeli soldiers emerged from the jeeps and began firing. One of the soldiers launched a tear gas canister directly at Tamimi from the back of a military jeep, according to footage displayed by Mondoweiss. Other protesters ran over to help him before he was rushed away in a taxi.
The vehicle was stopped by soldiers at a checkpoint near the entrance of the village and Tamimi was removed from the ambulance, where he was treated on the spot before being taken to the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. Tamimi later succumbed to his wounds at the hospital in the morning hours.
Several people have been killed or injured by tear gas canisters discharged by Israeli soldiers in recent years. The crowd dispersal weapons were intended to be fired skyward, a directive often disregarded by the soldiers.
Nabi Saleh, a small Palestinian village near Ramallah, has had much of its land appropriated by the neighboring Jewish settlement of Halamish. After a critical water well was taken by settlers two years ago, local residents of Nabi Saleh began organizing non-violent protests.
Anyone that has ever spent time in Nabi Saleh on Fridays understands the almost personal nature of what happens there. The Tamimi family and the activists that go to support them in their struggle to defend their land are almost always the same core group of people, and the soldiers from the nearby barracks are generally the same as well. Each recognize each other because of their weekly interaction. Every member of the Tamimi family is well known by the Israeli military stationed in the area, and those soldiers who torment and harass them. Acts such as the one that transpired with the malicious killing of Mustafa Tamimi can be viewed as purposeful, at least by the soldier that pulled the trigger. Either targeted at the individual or to break the back of a family that has endured every trial and tribulation to preserve their land and rights, people should understand the personal nature of the death of Mustafa Tamimi, the arrest of Bassem Tamimi, the constant night raids, the arrest and violent interrogation of children, and the whole orchestra of abuse directed at these people.
*All photos by Lazar Simeonov are available for purchase. Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org