JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The initial autopsy report of a Palestinian man slain by Israeli soldiers early Thursday shows that he was shot all over the body at least 20 times and that his death was caused by severe bleeding from his chest, neck, hands, legs, lungs, and heart.
The report is expected to add fuel to allegations by Palestinians that Israeli officers charged with arresting Mutaz Hijazi, 32, on suspicion of potential involvement in the shooting of a right-wing Jewish activist late Wednesday, instead executed him.
A lawyer for the Addameer Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Muhammad Mahmoud said on Friday that he had received the autopsy reports from Sabi al-Alul, the director of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, where the autopsy was held.
Mahmoud said that four of the bullets had struck Hijazi in the chest area, including heart and lungs, six hit his neck area, one hit his shoulder, one hit the right thigh, two hit his right arm, one hit his pelvis, three hit his right leg and four hit his left leg.
Mahmoud said that the bullets in his arm had “deformed and crushed” his bones, and that the autopsy showed that different types of bullets had been used, presumably from a number of different weapons.
Earlier reports said that Hijazi was shot and immobilized by Israeli police officers while on the rooftop of his home. The officers then ascended to the rooftop and reportedly dropped a water tank on his body, crushing him.
The autopsy suggests he subsequently bled to death while on the roof, while Israeli soldiers reportedly prevented locals from reaching his body.
Israeli police officers then allowed an ambulance to come but subsequently forced the driver to stop and stole Hijazi’s body from the back.
The killing of Hijazi set off a torrent of anger across Jerusalem, and is considered by many to be the second extrajudicial killing of a Palestinian in a week in the city by Israeli forces.
The first was Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi, 21, who was shot in the back and killed by a policeman after he had exited his vehicle after driving it into a crowd of people near a light rail stop, killing a child.
The killing, and the ferocious Israeli response, which included it deeming it a “terrorist attack” almost within minutes and launching raids across Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem, spurred riots across the city.
The latest killings come at the end of four months of almost continuous violence in Jerusalem, as Israeli authorities have launched massive arrest campaigns that critics say are politically-motivated while simultaneously imposing heavy religious restrictions on worshipers who seek to pray at Islam’s third-holiest site, the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Last week PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat blamed the violence on the Israeli occupation in force since 1967, noting: “We regret all loss of life. At the same time we reiterate that the Israeli occupation of Palestine remains the main source of violence and instability in the region.”
“Palestinian citizens continue to be oppressed, imprisoned, injured and killed by the occupation forces, with impunity and the full backing of the Israeli government,” he said in comments made after the Israeli prime minister blamed Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for the light rail car incident.
Palestinian community officials say the wave of unrest gripping the city is fueled by a sense of hopelessness resulting from Israel’s policies in occupied East Jerusalem, which have left many young people with a sense that they have nothing to lose.
Although Palestinians in East Jerusalem live within territory Israel has unilaterally annexed, they lack citizenship rights and are instead classified only as “residents” whose permits can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.
They face discrimination in all aspects of life including housing, employment, and services, and are unable to access services in the West Bank due to the construction of Israel’s separation wall.
Anger has also been fueled by widespread discontent at the Israeli offensive on Gaza that killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead and injured more than 11,000.
East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as Palestinian territory, but Israel occupied it in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never considered legitimate abroad.