Wednesday, October 29, 2008
By Wael al-Ahmed
Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank killed a 68-year-old Palestinian shepherd on Wednesday who was carrying a shotgun as protection against rustlers.
The Israeli army said Mohammed Abahereh opened fire at soldiers on routine patrol and they shot back, killing him.
Abahereh's son, Taher, who was helping him herd the sheep in the early morning darkness in al-Yamoun village, said rustlers had tried in the past to steal the animals.
"He was locking the gate and he heard something around us. He thought that it was thieves, so he went out with his shotgun and was shot immediately," Taher said.
The son said he had not seen the shooting but had heard the gunfire. He voiced doubts his father had shot at the soldiers.
"My father has never used his gun," he said, accusing the troops of leaving the shepherd to bleed to death and preventing an ambulance from reaching the area quickly.
An Israeli military spokesman denied the allegation.
"The troops did not prevent the evacuation and even guided the Red Crescent ambulance to the area so that it could get there as soon as possible," the spokesman said.
Israeli forces maintain a network of checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank and carry out patrols and raids against Palestinian militants.
The Palestinian Authority, engaged in peace talks with Israel, says Israeli military activity hampers its own efforts to exert security control in West Bank towns and villages.
(Additional reporting by Wafa Amr in Ramallah and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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