Israeli Soldiers Shot Mentally Ill Palestinian, His Body Not Returned to Family

60-year-old Hussein Kawarik was shot in the stomach after approaching an Israeli force. ‘He didn’t know where he was, didn’t know what a checkpoint was,’ his brother says, complaining that the family wasn’t informed of the shooting at all

The body of a 60-year-old Palestinian who was shot last week by Israeli forces in the West Bank – despite having posed no threat to soldiers – has not been returned to the family.

Hussein Kawarik, who was under psychiatric care, was shot after approaching soldiers at the checkpoint between Hawara and Nablus in the northern West Bank on Tuesday last week. No weapons were found on him after he was shot in the stomach.

Khaled, Hussein’s brother, said that no one informed the family that Hussein was shot and only discovered that his brother was in the hospital because another resident of their town of Awarta happened to be in the hospital at the same time and told them.

“No one told us anything, they didn’t call us,” said Khaled. After the shooting, his brother was taken to the Beilinson Hospital in central Israel for treatment, but succumbed to his wounds on Friday.

Khaled, who has an entry permit into Israel, arrived at the hospital on Wednesday, where he was told the body was taken to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir, in Tel Aviv.

Another resident of Awarta said he passed by the scene in his car when Kawarik was shot.

“It was about 10:30 P.M.,” said Hashem. “Hussein arrived from the direction of Nablus, and a soldier who was in the military tower shot two bullets at him, but he continued walking. Later a military car arrived, a soldier got out of it and yelled to stop in his direction. He didn’t respond to him and then the soldier fired three times at him and he fell,” he added.

Kawarik was known in the area as a person who wandered around with no purpose and who didn’t understand what was happening around him, Hashem says.

Khaled said his brother took medicine daily for his mental health problems, and he was single and unemployed. “He would wander around the village, ask people for cigarettes. He has been in treatment for 40 years already. He didn’t know where he was, didn’t know what a checkpoint was and didn’t really understand anything.”

Hussein was shot in the leg a few years ago under similar circumstances, Khaled said, and officials with both the Palestinian Authority and Israel Defense Forces knew him and were aware of his condition.

Saad Awad, the mayor of Awarta, said that three months ago residents called the Palestinian district coordination liaison office to warn that Kawarik was nearing the settlement of Itamar, and he was brought back to the village by the army. “He didn’t wear shoes, he would speak unclearly,” said Awad – who wondered why the soldiers shot Kawarik last week instead of detaining him.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said ‘a suspicious person’ approached the soldiers, who followed protocol and called him to stop before shooting. ‘The injury to the suspect was identified, and he was evacuated by the force to the hospital to receive medical treatment,’ the military added. ‘The circumstances of the incident are being clarified.’