By Aniqa Raihan and Raed Jarrar
Two months ago, AFSC and 14 other organizations sent a letter to President Obama urging him to investigate the apparent extrajudicial killing of Palestinian-American teenager Mahmoud Shaalan by Israeli soldiers. The U.S. State Department wrote back last month expressing concern about the possible use of excessive force, but has not taken any action against Israel or the Israeli Defense Forces unit responsible for Mahmoud’s killing.
We won’t let this end here. We’ll continue our call for the U.S. to uphold its responsibility to find out the truth about Mahmoud’s death and to hold his killers accountable. Join us in taking action by writing to President Obama today.
On Feb. 26, Mahmoud Shaalan was shot and killed by Israeli forces. According to Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, this appears to be an incident of extrajudicial execution.
Mahmoud was a 16-year-old high school student who was born and raised in Florida. He hoped to study medicine in college. And he was shot four times by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near the Beit El settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory. The soldiers stripped Mahmoud’s body, left him bleeding on the road for more than two hours, and prevented a Palestinian ambulance from taking him to a hospital.
Israel conducted its own investigation and said it found no wrongdoing on the part of the soldiers involved.
In addition to the letter which has now received State Department response, AFSC launched a petition urging President Obama to open an investigation into Mahmoud’s killing, which was signed by over 10,000 people and delivered to the White House. We also filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking for further information on the case, which we have yet to receive.
U.S. law is clear: Any proven extrajudicial killing should result in an end to U.S. military and financial aid to the military unit behind the killing. Several laws and regulations, including the Leahy Law, prohibit the U.S. from providing military aid to foreign security units that violate human rights. Despite documentation of dozens of apparent extrajudicial killings and human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel continues to receive billions of dollars in American security assistance every year.
The killing of Mahmoud Shaalan is just one example of those unlawful killings. Given the lack of action and accountability and massive flow of U.S. tax dollars to the Israeli military, it is on us to demand that the U.S. take responsibility to end these gross human rights violations.
Aniqa Raihan is the public policy intern and Raed Jarrar is the government relations manager at AFSC's Office of Public Policy and Advocacy in Washington, D.C.