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Essam Aoudhi: Martyred in defense of Qusra

23 September 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Today Essam Kamal Abed Aoudhi, a 35 year old father of 8 children from the village of Qusra, was murdered by the Israeli army as they fired live ammunition indiscriminately into a crowd of villagers gathered in their village.

From the nearby outpost of Esh Kodesh (“Holy Head”) built entirely on stolen Qusra land, a large group of settlers left the settlement and entered the village just after 1pm and began attacking villagers and burning olive groves. As the villagers gathered to protect themselves and their land, the soldiers arrived and stood between the settlers and villagers, protecting the settlers who retreated.

Soldiers instantly began to fire tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and live ammunition directly at villagers, making no attempt to disperse but intending solely to injure.

Mohammad Abdul Odeh, age 16, was shot in the stomach with a high velocity tear gas canister as he stood on his land.

Remi Hassan was shot with 4 rubber bullets and one dum dum from 2 meters away by the Israeli military.

Remi Yusef Faiz Hassan, age 35, was shot with 4 rubber bullets and one dum dum from 2 meters as he peacefully walked to soldiers to ask why they allow the settlers to enter his village and burn his trees.

Sameeh Hassan, age 24, was shot in the groin with rubber bullets as he attempted to reach his olive trees and extinguish the fire destroying them.

Essam Aoudhi was shot with live ammunition as he joined his fellow villagers protesting the army’s incursion into his village. According to Dr. Sameh Abu Zaroh, a doctor at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, the wound on Essam’s body shows that the bullet was shot from just a few meters away and from below in such a way to insure maximum injury. The bullet entered the right side of Essam’s chest and exited through the top of his back, fracturing his vertebrae in multiple places.

After Essam was carried to an ambulance, the soldiers left immediately, clearly understanding what had just happened. The people of Qusra returned to the centre of the village where children had gathered, shouting slogans expressing their anger over Essam’s martyrdom.

As the sun set in Qusra, the punishment continued, as two teenagers stumbled into the village before collapsing to the ground in pain. Both Amar Masameer, age 19, and Fathi Hassan, age 16, were arrested earlier in the day as they made their way towards Qusra’s burning olive trees.

They did not resist arrest yet returned to the village dripping with blood and faces so swollen they were barely recognisable. Once arrested, Fathi Hassan explained, settlers from the outpost had asked the soldiers detaining them for permission to beat the two boys. The soldiers did not interfere and so the settlers began stoning the boys whilst their hands where cuffed behind their backs. Amar Masameer was hit directly in the eye with a stone thrown from just a few meters and is now in Rafidia hospital awaiting treatment.