Know More About Palestine

Friday Jan. 7, 2011 8:28 AM (EST+7)
Israeli troops kill Hamas man's neighbour say residents

Read more: Hamas, Israeli army, West Bank, raids

HEBRON, West Bank, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Israeli troops killed a 65-year-old Palestinian in his bedroom on Friday during a pre-dawn raid to seize a Hamas suspect who lived in the same building, the dead man's wife and local residents said.

The troops swooped on houses in the occupied West Bank to re-arrest six members of the Islamist Hamas group who had been released from Palestinian jails just the day before.

During the operation they broke into the home of Amr Qawasme, one floor above a Hamas militant, and stormed into his bedroom. The man's wife, Sobheye, said she heard several shots fired and later saw her husband lying in a pool of blood.

I was praying when they entered. I do not know how they opened the door. They put their hand to my mouth and a rifle to my head, she told Reuters after Qawasme's body was removed.

I was shocked. They did not allow me to talk. I asked them, 'What did you do?' They asked me to shut up.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the killing, but Army Radio said an investigation was under way and added that the shooting was apparently an error.

Reuters Television footage showed that Qawasme had been shot in the head and body. Bullet casings were scattered on the floor of his room, his pillow and mattress left sodden with blood.


Violence in the occupied West Bank has largely tapered off in the past few years as a result of security measures by Israel and a bolstered Palestinian police force supervised by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's government.

But the past week has seen a rise in tensions.

Last Friday, a Palestinian woman died following a protest against an Israeli barrier built across the West Bank. A local medic said the woman died after inhaling teargas.

On Sunday, an Israeli solider shot dead a Palestinian who approached a West Bank checkpoint holding a glass bottle.

Israel and Abbas's administration have a common foe in Hamas, which rejects Middle East peace efforts and controls the Gaza Strip coastal enclave.

But the Israelis sometimes chafe at Abbas's handling of the group, and were clearly irked by the Palestinian Authority's decision to release the six Hamas militants on Thursday.

A Palestinian source said the men were originally detained for threatening national security interests. Israeli media said the militants, who had been on hunger strike, were freed at the request of the emir of Qatar.

Five of the men were from Hebron, and one of them, Wael Bitar, lived one storey below the victim, residents said. They were all seized by the Israeli troops overnight.

Hamas has seen hundreds of its followers rounded up by Abbas's forces since the internal Palestinian split in 2007. Hamas in Gaza has similarly cracked down on members of Abbas's secular Fatah movement.

The official Hamas website accused Abbas's forces of being an Israeli proxy which bore responsibility for Qawasme's death.







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