Israeli military forces shot and killed a 28-year-old mentally disabled Palestinian man and a 25-year-old woman in separate incidents in the West Bank today. They also fatally shot a woman leaving home with her children in the southern Gaza Strip Sunday night, according to Palestinian witnesses and media reports.
Basem Kou, 28, who was born with mental retardation, was riding his donkey at midafternoon at the entrance of his village of Beit Lid, near the West Bank city of Tulkarm, as he did most days, when soldiers ordered him to stop, according to relatives. The village is near the Jewish settlement of Einav.
A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces said a military patrol ordered a Palestinian whose "face was covered and . . . was holding a long stick" to stop for questioning.
The man turned and ran and soldiers chased him, the spokesman said. The soldiers shouted for him to stop, then fired warning shots into the air. When the man didn't stop, soldiers "opened fire toward his legs," the spokesman said.
The man collapsed and died from his wounds as Israeli soldiers were attempting to administer medical aid, the spokesman added. Local medical authorities said Kou died from a bullet wound in his lower spine.
Teachers from the village who came upon the patrol and Kou told the soldiers that he was mentally disabled, according to Nael Mustafa Kou, 25, the dead man's brother.
"The soldiers said, 'That's not our problem. We told him to stop and he didn't,' " according to the brother, reached by telephone at the family home in the village.
"He was mentally retarded, but he never harmed anyone," said Jihad Kou, a cousin of the dead man. "He was always leaving home on his donkey and coming back."
The cousin said Basem Kou had been stopped by soldiers several times in the past, but had always been released.
In the northern West Bank city of Nablus, an Israeli tank crew opened fire on a taxi near the Askar refugee camp, killing Rehaneh Hesham Kilani, 25, and injuring two other passengers, including her husband, family members said. A family representative and a military official both said the taxi was fired on at about 9:30 p.m. during a military-imposed curfew. A military official said the incident was under investigation.
In the southern Gaza Strip, Nahla Aqel, 41, was leaving her house on the edge of the city of Rafah, near the Egyptian border, with her three children when they were hit by machine-gun fire from an Israeli tank, according to Palestinian media reports.
The tank was protecting the Jewish settlement of Rafiah Yam and was about 200 yards from the Aqel home, Palestinian reporters said. The initial report on Israeli Army radio said four Palestinian militants had been killed while trying to infiltrate the settlement.
Two bullets struck the mother in the neck, according to medical officials, who said she died at the scene. Her 4-year-old son was wounded in the head by shrapnel, her 14-year-old son was injured in the left arm and a bullet or piece of shrapnel lodged near the kidney of her 17-year-old daughter, medical officials said. The three children were taken to a hospital for treatment.
An Israeli military official, who requested anonymity, said Israeli soldiers opened fire at three armed Palestinians who were among a group of six "suspicious" Palestinians who "got close to Israeli forces in the area of Rafah" at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The official said the military was investigating the reports of the woman's death and the injured children. The official said soldiers did not know what happened to the armed Palestinians they reported seeing in the area.