Was Fawaz Hamayel an Innocent Victim of IDF as Mainstream Media Represents?

The Guardian recently reported on the IDF’s killing of a man named Fawaz Hamayel. While the palestinian Arabs claim he was just an innocent bystander, the IDF claims he was part of a violent riot.

No prizes for guessing which side the Guardian takes.

For many in Beita, a town of about 15,000 in the northern West Bank, the killing by Israeli security forces of Fawaz Hamayel last week has left a sense of being collectively orphaned.

“We lost the soul of Beita. He was everything for everyone,” said his nephew Ahmad, of the 47-year-old father of three who was a pillar of the tightly knit community.

He was mortally wounded in what security forces have described as “counter-terrorist activities” in Beita and other locales in the northern West Bank spurred by a deadly wave of Palestinian attacks inside Israel.

Fawaz was known for protesting against the occupation. He played an active role as a nationalist, simultaneously as an official dealing with Jerusalem affairs in the Palestinian Authority, an activist in Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organisation, and a driving force behind Beita’s stubborn resistance to efforts to establish a new settlement on its land.

“He was definitely an example to the young people and old people,” Ahmad said.

But neither the man nor his town had clear links to the recent rise in bloodshed, including the killing of three people in a Tel Aviv bar earlier this month.

Beita deputy mayor, Mohammed Hamayel, a distant relative who was with Fawaz at the time he was shot, said he was posing no threat. He had gone outside upon hearing there were wounded Palestinians to discern if there were other residents who were injured and to take pictures, the deputy mayor said. Fawaz used to distribute pictures from Beita to news outlets.

The Israeli army implied in response to a query that Fawaz was a participant in a violent riot in which stones and petrol bombs were thrown by Palestinians.

Fawaz helped organise and document the protests, held after mosque prayers every Friday. Mourners said he had a great memory and was also the town’s “archive”, knowing the dates of the deaths of all of Beita’s “martyrs” including nine shot dead by security forces during the time of the protests.

On 13 April, with tensions rising in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Fawaz woke up very early as usual to clean up the Othman Ibn Affan mosque before the imam arrived. Soon afterwards hundreds of Israeli forces, according to locals, arrived in and around Beita.

Seven Beita residents were injured during the raid, one of them shot in the eye and another in the head, said the deputy mayor. Four people were arrested and later released, he said, adding that security forces had targeted Beita because of its resistance to the settlement. “They steal our land. How can we accept that?” he said. “This will increase our hostility to Israelis and our determination to have our freedom and live in dignity in our land.”

The deputy mayor termed the raid “systemic terrorism”.

Three thousand people, including senior Palestinian Authority officials, attended Fawaz Hamayel’s funeral. But that seemed of small comfort to friends and relatives gathered in the home of Fawaz’s brother Aziz on Tuesday.

“Why did they come here in the first place?” his elderly mother, Faiza, cried. “Why do they provoke us? We didn’t do anything.”

The sense was that the Palestinians had lost an authentic and legitimate grassroots leader.

A relative showed a picture of Fawaz sitting at his office desk in a suit and tie at the Jerusalem governorate headquarters, where he was director for public affairs. His duties were diverse, including helping drug addicts, his brother said.

His son Qais, 16, smiled, not seeming to grasp yet the enormous loss: “I promise in front of all of you that I will do my best to study hard in school so I can study to be a doctor like Dad wanted,” he said.

The IDF said that during the 13 April “counter-terrorist” action mounted in Beita, dozens of Palestinians rioted and hurled rocks and molotov cocktails at troops. “The soldiers responded with riot dispersal means and live ammunition. A hit was identified.”

In a similar vein, the Independent has published an op-ed by Dr Amjad Abu el Ezz, head of the social studies department at the Arab American University in Ramallah and a friend of the dead man (hat tip: Michal). Titled Palestine is bleeding: My friend was murdered by Israeli soldiers, I think you get the drift.

So was Fawaz Hamayel involved with the riot or just an innocent bystander? Without video evidence, there is no proof either way. But a look at Hamayel’s Facebook page shows he was very much pro-terrorism:

and advocated for our destruction:

In this video, we are referred to as ‘Nazis’. And this is not the only example of Hamyel’s antisemitism. In the below post, he promotes the antisemitic Khazarian theory:

In addition, the Fatah terrorist organization paid tribute to him as a Fatah “martyr,” and the wording made it sound like he was killed during the course of battle:

The WAFA News Agency also suggested he was killed during clashes, making no mention of him being an innocent bystander taking photos.

So what we have is a terror supporter likely killed while engaged in violence against Israel, and not a cold-blooded execution of an innocent guy. There is also a chance he was an actual Fatah terrorist, if their description of him as their martyr is to be taken literally (I have seen some people claim he was, but in the absence of clear proof I cannot say this is definitely true).

Of course, none of this is of relevance to The Guardian or The Independent, who either did not bother to check for themselves or did simply do not care.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media