Huwara mourns the loss of Martyr Alaa Mohammad Odeh
Today, the people of Huwara laid to rest the body of Martyr Alaa Mohammad Odeh, 30, who was killed by Israeli soldiers at Za’atara checkpoint late Monday night. Hundreds of mourners from Nablus and the surrounding towns arrived to Huwara around 1pm to take part in the traditional funeral rites – a march to the house of the deceased, prayers, and finally the interment of the body.
Shebab (youth), however, arrived on the scene earlier in the day, to block off the road through town with tire fires. Israeli soldiers mostly kept clear of the town, however several did attempt to enter in an unmarked van. They quickly left after the shebab made it clear the Israelis were not welcome. This was just one of many incidents and clashes that have occurred in Huwara in the past few days, as the military has been raiding and patrolling the area much more frequently since the shooting on Monday.
Initial reports from the Israeli military stated that soldiers had opened fire on Odeh, after he shot and wounded a member of the Israeli border police – a story that has been condemned by Odeh’s friends and family. According to them, he had gone to the checkpoint that night to get an order of cell phones, and had left his taxi to pick up the delivery. As he approached the checkpoint on foot, Israeli soldiers opened fire, shooting him first in the legs, then the upper body, over fourteen times. Witnesses report that a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance arrived at the scene while Odeh was still alive, however the soldiers did not allow the medics to treat him, or take the body to a hospital. This story has been corroborated by the taxi driver, as well as other Palestinian eyewitnesses.
The military refused to release the body to the family until late Tuesday night, at which point it was taken to Rafidiyah Hospital in Nablus.
Further doubt was cast on the legitimacy of the military’s version of events, after they released a picture of Odeh’s Hawiya (ID card), a pistol, and ammunition clips that did not fit the pistol in question, claiming that they had been taken off the body.
After the shooting, Israeli soldiers raided Odeh’s cell phone store in Huwara, taking his laptop computer. The army has continued its harassment of the town by setting up flying checkpoints and detaining Shebab.
While all of Palestine mourns the loss of Alaa Mohammad Odeh, the hardest burden will be on his family – he leaves behind his wife and two young children. They have now joined the ranks of Palestinian families who have been torn apart by the brutality of the occupation.
Groups such as the Palestinian Center for Human Rights have condemned the killing, and are calling for a full investigation into the incident.