On Sunday, 29 July 2012, when 14 Palestinian workers were attempting to cross illegally into Israel through al-Za’yyam checkpoint, east of Jerusalem, in order to work, Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint opened fire on their car. One of the workers died following a gunshot wound to his head and three others were also hit. Most of these workers, who are the main supporters of their families, cannot find jobs in the West bank and have no other choice but to work illegally in Israel.
Sub’hi Muhammad Ghaythan – (20 years old)
Following the death of his parents, Sub’hi, a Palestinian living in Kibya, a village west of Ramallah, became responsible for supporting his family. He could not find work in the West Bank and as a result Sub’hi had to find a job in Israel, where he works in construction. However, since the Israeli authorities refuses to issue permits for Palestinians of Sub’hi’s age, he had to be smuggled into Israel in order to work.
At around 8:00 pm, Sub’hi left his house accompanied by his 40-year-old brother Ahmad. In Hizma, east of Jerusalem, he was joined by 13 other Palestinians, who were also waiting to be smuggled into Israel. The 14 workers were planning to pass through the checkpoint in an Israeli yellow-plated car. They would follow another car that would go through the checkpoint first to verify if the Israeli soldiers were examining identity cards.
When the workers’ car was 30 meters from the checkpoint, the driver of the first car phoned the driver of the workers’ car and warned him that he needed to turn back, that the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint were checking identity cards.
Sub’hi saw several Israeli soldiers approaching the workers’ car. The driver, who was trying to reverse, could not do so as he was in a line of traffic waiting to pass through the checkpoint. When the soldiers got closer to the car, they ordered the driver to stop trying to reverse. However, the driver turned the car, passed the soldiers and drove quickly into al-Za’yyam village to the east.
Sub’hi recalls that there was a lot of shooting at the car from behind and to the left side of the car. The shooting continued heavily until the car was 100 metres away from the checkpoint. The workers were shouting and asking the driver to stop to let them out.
Khaled ‘Imad Zyada, one of the workers, managed to stop the car using the handbrake and Sub’hi, along with some of the workers jumped out of the car and ran towards the village without knowing that some of the workers were injured. The villagers of al-Za’yyam came to check on the injured workers and gave them some medical support.
At 3:00 am, Sub’hi went to the hospital to get treatment for a cut behind his left ear. At the hospital, he learned that a worker named Hasan, who was with them in the car, had been shot and killed. (Al-Haq affidavit No. 7590/2012)
Khaled ‘Imad Zyada – (23 years old)
On 29 July 2012, Khaled, who also works illegally in Israel, was in the same white car with Sub’hi. Khaled had to sit on Hasan Badee’ al-Tabar’s lap, (46 years old), since the car could not comfortably fit the 14 Palestinian workers.
Khaled recalls that the driver of their car drove away towards al-Za’yyam village while under heavy fire and stopped when they were 100 metres away from the checkpoint, at which point Hasan’s head was resting on Khaled’s shoulder. Khaled thought that Hasan was trying to protect himself from the bullets. Khaled then jumped to the front and stopped the car with the handbrake. He did not realise at that time that he had been shot in his right leg and he only felt his injury when he was running and fell to the ground 200 metres away from the car.
Several minutes later, an Israeli ambulance arrived on the scene and picked up Khaled. In the ambulance, Khaled heard the Israeli paramedics talking about another serious injury. The ambulance stopped at the scene of the incident, and the paramedics, who stepped out of the ambulance, came back holding Hasan. Khaled saw that Hasan was badly hurt and had a deep gunshot wound on the head. Despite the efforts of the paramedics, Hasan died from the bullet wound.
The ambulance went to al-Za’yyam checkpoint, but transferred Khaled to another Palestinian ambulance given he does not have a permit to pass through the checkpoint. Khaled was taken to Ramallah hospital, where he had an operation on his right leg to remove the bullet. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7592/2012)