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PA: Israel trying to cover up killings

Jan. 4, 2011 7:38 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 5, 2011 10:05 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday said Israel was trying to cover-up the recent killings of a Palestinian anti-wall protester and a man shot by soldiers at a checkpoint.

Jawaher Abu Rahmah was hospitalized after inhaling tear-gas fired by Israeli forces at a protest in Bil'in on Friday. Medics said she died Saturday morning after doctors were unable to revive her.

On Sunday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Ahmed Maslamani at a West Bank checkpoint. The army said he approached the checkpoint in an unauthorized lane, did not heed orders to stop and was carrying a glass bottle.

Witnesses said an Israeli soldier shouted at him, he raised his hands and two other soldiers immediately opened fire. He was carrying a coca-cola can, onlookers said. Medics said Maslamani's body was riddled with bullets.

The PA said the 21-year-old from Tubas was unarmed and on his way to work.

"Both of these persons were the victims of Israeli government policies which allow for the continued inappropriate use of disproportionate violence against Palestinians by Israeli forces, settlers, and guards," a government statement said.

Abu Rahmah's death certificate states that she died due to excessive inhalation of tear gas, the PA said.

The director of the Ramallah hospital where Abu Rahmah was treated, Mohammad Aida, said she died from lung failure caused by tear gas inhalation which led to a heart attack.

"She arrived at the hospital only partly conscious, and then lost consciousness completely," he said.

Bil'in's local popular committee has published Abu Rahmah's medical report online.

The group also published the Palestine Red Crescent ambulance report online, detailing the woman's evacuation from the protest.

The committee quashed Israeli media reports which quote anonymous sources suggesting Abu Rahmah had an existing condition. Abu Rahmah's doctor, her mother and her employer have all denied the claims.

In an official statement Saturday evening, the Israeli military said it would investigate the woman's death.

The statement further said initial reports from Palestinians said Abu Rahmah was released from hospital and died at home.

"Subsequently the Palestinians changed their version of events, claiming that she died in the hospital," the statement continued.

After several phone calls to Israeli military spokespeople requesting the sources of the Palestinian reports, an army spokesman suggested the reports came from the Israeli media, and then said he could not disclose the identity of the army's Palestinian sources.

On Friday evening, a military spokeswoman said the army was not aware that any Palestinians at been injured at the protest.

"Ms. Abu Rahma and Mr. Maslamani have joined the ranks of dozens of Palestinian civilians who have been killed in cold blood during the last year," the PA said.

The government added that the last year had seen an increase in the use of violence, detention and home demolitions, and urged Israel to end all forms of violence against Palestinians.
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