A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged inside his vehicle in Jerusalem late Sunday, in what family and friends believe was the latest attack in a recent wave of hate crimes targeting Palestinians.
The body of 32-year-old Yousef Hassan al-Ramouni, a father of two, was found hanging from a steel bar inside his vehicle in a bus depot in Har Hotzvim, an industrial zone in north Jerusalem, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
Israeli police said a preliminary investigation indicated the man committed suicide, but his family and fellow drivers rejected the claim, saying that he was murdered by Israeli settlers.
“According to an initial investigation, it appears there is no suspicion of criminal activity, in other words a suicide,” she claimed in a statement, adding that there were “no signs of violence on the body.”
But fellow bus driver Muatasem Fakeh said he had seen evidence to the contrary.
“We saw signs of violence on his body,” he told AFP, adding that Ramoini “was hanged over the steps at the back of the bus in a place where it would be impossible to hang yourself alone.”
An autopsy will be carried out later Monday to determine the cause of death.
Following the incident, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the al-Tur neighborhood of annexed East Jerusalem and in the village of Abu Dis in the Jerusalem governorate.
Meanwhile, an Israeli settler was stabbed with a screwdriver in the back in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, Israeli police said.
After he was stabbed, the settler walked into the old city of Jerusalem where he found border police and informed them of the incident, a police statement said, adding that the assailant was allegedly a “young Palestinian, who then fled.”
“Police searching for suspect who stabbed Israeli 32-year-old man near central Jerusalem,” Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld wrote on Twitter.
He added: “Man taken to hospital in moderate condition.”
Unrest has gripped Jerusalem and the West Bank on an almost daily basis for the past four months, flaring up after a group of Zionist settlers kidnapped and killed a young Palestinian because of his ethnicity.
Hate crimes by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property, referred to as “price tag” attacks, are systematic and often abetted by Israeli authorities, who rarely intervene in the violent attacks or prosecute the perpetrators.
Last month, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah slammed Israel for failing to hold Zionist settlers accountable for a recent wave of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
“The Israeli government has never brought settlers to account for the terrorism and intimidation they commit [against Palestinians],” Hamdallah said.
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) monthly report stated that one Palestinian child was killed and six others Palestinians injured, four of them children, after being deliberately hit by Israeli settler vehicles in October.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there were at least 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2013.
Moreover, Israeli authorities have allowed Zionist settlers to take over homes in Palestinian neighborhoods both in annexed East Jerusalem and the West Bank, announced plans to build thousands of settlements strictly for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem while ignoring Palestinian residents, and have generally looked the other way at rising violence by Zionist settlers against Palestinians across the city.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous Balfour Declaration, called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.
Source: Al-Akhbar English