Palestinians accuse Israel of lying after army shoots woman dead
Israel and the Palestinians were at odds last night over the shooting of a 19-year-old woman. Activists contradicted Israeli soldiers' assertions that she was shot dead after attacking them with a knife.
The killing of Hadeel al-Hashlamun, a Palestinian student, came under intense scrutiny after dramatic photographs and video footage emerged of the confrontation between her and two armed soldiers at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The shooting triggered clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in Hebron as thousands of mourners gathered in the city for the dead woman's funeral.
Ms al-Hashlamun suffered fatal injuries after being shot several times at the Kikar Hashoter checkpoint at around 7.35am on Tuesday.
The Israeli army said soldiers opened fire after she tried to stab one of them with a knife, having disobeyed orders to stop.
However, that account was challenged by Youth Against Settlements, a Palestinian monitoring group, which - citing eyewitnesses - disputed the claims that Ms al-Hashlamun had a knife and said she had become frightened after soldiers demanded that she lift up her niqab, a full-body Islamic covering, as part of an inspection.
The organisation's version prompted the army to release a photograph of what it said was the knife, lying on the ground near the scene of the shooting.
This was intended to counter more than a dozen images posted by Youth Against Settlements on its Facebook page and picked up by international media.
The photographs showed Ms al-Hashlamun, dressed in black and with her back to the camera, facing two soldiers pointing their guns directly at her.
The Palestinian woman's body language appears passive.
None of the pictures shows any evidence whatsoever of her holding a knife.
Some photographs show Ms al-Hashlamun talking to a man with a light-coloured shirt, who appears to be trying to calm the situation.
Issa Amro, director of Youth Against Settlements, said the man - a Palestinian whom he described as a friend but declined to name - had told him the woman did not have a knife.
Mr Amro said five soldiers opened fire on her.
"They shot her in the legs and she continued moving back," he said. "She fell down and the soldiers shot her as she fell. I saw a photograph that had five bullet holes on the ground, which means they must have been aiming at her body as she fell."
Ms al-Hashlamun was taken to Shaare Zedek medical centre in Jerusalem, where she underwent surgery but was later pronounced dead.