Salameh denied suggestions he and Abdel Jabbar had been throwing stones and said there had been no attempt to arrest him.
Salameh — interviewed Tuesday along withAbdel Jabbar’s father, Hafeth, in the family’s ancestral village of Al-Mazra’a Ash-Sharquiya — said he and his friend were driving on a dirt road several hundred meters from Highway 60. He said shots suddenly hit the back of the truck, striking Abdel Jabbar.
Salameh said the pickup overturned several times, and he managed to get out and run back to the village for help.
Hafeth Abdel Jabbar said that when he arrived, he found his son’s lifeless body in the pickup, amid shattered glass and blood stains. He rejected claims that his son had thrown stones as “a big lie.” Even if the teens had thrown rocks, he said, they posed no imminent threat — to police, military, or civilians — as they drove through the brush.
An Israeli police official told AP on Wednesday that the witness account and bullet holes in the back of the truck represented only one side of the story and that the investigation is ongoing. He declined to comment further. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the case with news outlets.
The White House has demanded a transparent investigation into the death, which came after repeated U.S. warnings that Israel must rein inrising violence against Palestinians in the territory. The teen’s family said U.S. embassy officials visited the village, photographed the car and interviewed relatives.
On the scene
Salameh said the events leading to the shooting began Friday afternoon, when he and Abdel Jabbar decided to have a picnic in the family’s fields — a typical thing to do on sunny days.
They jumped in the family truck and headed out, he said, but realized they’d forgotten charcoal. Abdel Jabbar turned the car around, heading back to the village on a dirt road perpendicular to the highway — that’s when shots began hitting the back windshield, Salameh said.
He said he ducked as bullets pounded the vehicle, the fourth one hitting Tawfic in the head. The car skidded off the road and flipped several times before coming to a stop, Salameh said.
Hafeth Abdel Jabbar said that when he and other relatives arrived, Israeli soldiers trained their guns on them and made two of them take their shirts off to show they weren’t a threat.
He said he ignored the soldiers and ran to the car, which had landed upright. He described his son’s body as splayed on the passenger side of the car, where blood pooled onto the floor and spread to the backseat.
He said he and others began extricating his son’s body, loading him into an ambulance.
Tawfic Abdel Jabbar was pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital. Video his father provided shows the car about 500 meters from the highway.
“It’s a scene that I hope never happens again,” Hafeth said Tuesday. “You have six or seven Israeli soldiers pointing the gun at you. Telling you not to go see your son. Your 17-year-old son is inside the car, dead from them, shot from the back.”
In the village
The killing shocked the village, where most inhabitants carry American passports and split their time between the West Bank and the U.S.
The Abdel Jabbar family’s roots there run back almost 200 years. Tawfic’s parents, Hafeth and Mona, grew up in the village. They moved to Gretna, Louisiana, where they married. The extended family owns a chain of shoe stores in the U.S.
The family returned frequently to their ancestral home, an ornate stone compound perched on a village hilltop. During summers, Tawfic and his siblings took part in traditional village life.
He was in his senior year in high school when he was killed. Studying remotely over the past few months, he hoped to finish in February and eventually attend college in the U.S, his father said.
Immediately after the shooting, Palestinian health officials identified the teen as Tawfiq Ajaq, but his parents said the family goes by the last name Abdel Jabbar and their son’s first name is Tawfic, an unusual spelling.
After Israeli investigators examined the vehicle Saturday, the family took it back to the village, where it sat under tarp. AP saw the truck Tuesday. Bullet holes had been marked with Hebrew stickers left by a police forensics team. Later Tuesday, investigators took the truck, Abdel Jabbar said.
According to figures from the Israeli watchdog Yesh Din, killings of Palestinians in the West Bank rarely result in investigations — andwhen they do, indictments are uncommon.
Also Tuesday, Abdel Jabbar said, he accompanied Salameh to provide witness testimony to Israeli investigators.
After shock, anger
Four days after the shooting, friends and relatives clustered into the family home to pay their respects, piling hummus and falafel onto platters and gathering around fires with cups of Arabic coffee.
Tawfic’s uncle, Rami, said that in Louisiana, Tawfic had refused to work in the family’s shoe stores — spending time instead studying. Abdel Jabbar said his son wanted to become an engineer.
His mother, 36-year-old Mona, said she wants to see those who killed her son prosecuted and punished in Israel, and added that she’s furious at U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.
“How many children have to get killed for the U.S. to stop supporting Israel?” she said.
Biden’s administration hasprovided military and diplomatic supportfor Israel’s war against Hamas. Over25,000 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them women and children, have been killed, according tothe Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. The war was triggered by Hamas’Oct. 7 attackon southern Israel, in which the militants killed about 1,200 people and took 250 hostages.
The administration hascondemned rising violence by Israeli settlersagainst Palestinians in the West Bank. Since Oct. 7, 370 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, according to Palestinian health officials. Most have been killed in clashes during near nightly Israeli army raids aimed at suspected militants.
“My son, he was killed by — I don’t want to say American bullets, but at least by American money,” Mona Abdel Jabbar said. “We live there, we work there. Our business is there, we pay in taxes there. So my taxes are going to the bullet that killed my son.”
As someone deeply knowledgeable about the situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I can provide insights into the concepts mentioned in the article.
- Two individuals, Salameh and Abdel Jabbar, were driving on a dirt road near Highway 60.
- Shots hit the back of their truck, leading to the pickup overturning.
- Abdel Jabbar was fatally struck, and Salameh ran back to the village for help.
- Salameh denies throwing stones and asserts there was no attempt to arrest them.
- Hafeth Abdel Jabbar, the father, rejects claims of his son throwing stones, describing it as a "big lie."
Israeli Police Response:
- An Israeli police official mentions that the investigation is ongoing and declines to comment further.
- The witness account and bullet holes in the truck represent one side of the story.
- The White House calls for a transparent investigation into the incident.
- U.S. embassy officials visited the village, photographed the car, and interviewed relatives.
- The Abdel Jabbar family has deep roots in their ancestral village, with connections dating back almost 200 years.
- Most villagers carry American passports and split their time between the West Bank and the U.S.
- The family owns a chain of shoe stores in the U.S.
- The victim, Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, was in his senior year of high school and planned to attend college in the U.S.
- He was studying remotely and hoped to finish high school in February.
Aftermath and Local Impact:
- The killing shocks the village, where residents have strong ties to the U.S.
- Friends and relatives gather to pay their respects, expressing shock and anger.
- The mother, Mona Abdel Jabbar, expresses anger at the U.S. administration for supporting Israel despite the loss of Palestinian lives.
- She questions the U.S. support for Israel and its impact on the lives of Palestinians.
- Figures from the Israeli watchdog Yesh Din suggest that investigations into killings of Palestinians in the West Bank are rare, and indictments are uncommon.
Biden Administration's Stance:
- The article mentions that Biden's administration has provided military and diplomatic support for Israel's actions against Hamas.
- The administration has condemned rising violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank.
This comprehensive overview covers the main points in the article, providing a thorough understanding of the incident and its context.