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General strike launched in Bethlehem to mourn slain Palestinian Raed al-Salhi

Sept. 9, 2017 10:17 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 9, 2017 4:30 P.M.)
Raed al-Salhi
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian officials declared a general strike in the Bethlehem district of the occupied West Bank on Saturday to mourn 22-year-old slain Palestinian Raed al-Salhi, whose body was returned by Israel on Friday night after being withheld from his family in al-Duheisha refugee camp for six days.

Muhammad al-Jaafari, spokesperson for the Palestinian factional coordination committee, which declared the strike, said that the strike would include all businesses, public transportation, schools, and universities.

Al-Jaafari added that the strike would end at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Al-Salhi’s body was delivered to a Palestinian ambulance at Israel's 300 checkpoint in northern Bethlehem on Friday night, when hundreds of Palestinians gathered and marched on the Hebron-Jerusalem road in Bethlehem city.

His body was taken from the ambulance and carried throughout the crowd, as mourners kissed al-Salhi’s face and chanted for Palestinian unity against the Israeli occupation.

He was then carried by hundreds of mourners to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital.

Al-Salhi’s funeral is expected to be held later on Saturday.

Al-Salhi was shot multiple times in the chest at close range, puncturing his liver, during a predawn military raid on Aug. 9, when he was left bleeding out for an hour and a half before being transferred for treatment at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, where he fell into a coma.

He succumbed to his wounds almost a month later.

During the weeks that al-Salhi remained in critical condition in the hospital his family was kept in the dark about his condition. It is common for Palestinian families not to receive any updates or information from Israeli authorities after their relatives are shot or killed by Israeli forces.

After al-Salhi was pronounced dead, his body was transferred from the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem to the Rishon Lezion hospital in central Israel.

Israel often delays the delivery of slain Palestinian bodies to their families in the occupied Palestinian territory, and imposes strict conditions on funerals, alleging that funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces leads to “incitement.”

Al-Salhi was the latest Palestinian to be killed during violent Israeli detention raids, which occur on a nightly basis in the West Bank, while scores of others have been injured.

Like many other Palestinian youth in al-Duheisha camp, al-Salhi’s family reported that he had been threatened by an Israeli army commander, called “Captain Nidal” by Palestinians in the camp. Captain Nidal has become infamous in the refugee camps for routinely threatening to disable Palestinians by aiming live ammunition at their lower extremities, referred to as “kneecapping.”

Two days before Israeli forces shot several bullets into al-Salhi, the family said that al-Salhi was threatened by Captain Nidal, who told him that he would “shoot him in front of his mother.”

Since al-Salhi did not pose any threat to the soldiers who raided his home in Aug., yet was still left riddled with several bullets, rights groups are considering his death an “extrajudicial killing,” and possibly a “war crime of willful killing."

According to the Israeli army, al-Salhi was being detained over involvement in the left-wing group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), considered a "terrorist" organization by Israeli authorities.

Israel considers the vast majority of Palestinian political parties to be “terrorist” organizations, which rights groups have said allows Israel to criminalize Palestinian resistance and erode political life in the occupied territory.

According to Ma'an documentation, al-Salhi was the 55th Palestinian to be killed by an Israeli since the beginning of 2017. During the same time period, 13 Israelis -- almost all of whom were uniformed Israeli officers or settlers residing in Palestinian territory in violation of international law -- were killed by Palestinians.
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