The dead include Palestinian political prisoners who died of “direct medical negligence” in prison, where 150 Palestinian children are also detained. But by far most were random victims of the systemic military violence needed to sustain a genocidal Occupation – especially since late 2021, when Israel further loosened its open-fire rules to pretty much, “Shoot what moves.” The killings began the first week of January – the father of an 18-month-old shot in the head, a man going to work run over by a settler – and didn’t stop. A 16-year-old shot in the eye, an 18-year-old shot walking home from school, a man shot dropping off his nephews at school, a 14-year-old shot running away from soldiers, a 16-year-old shot riding a motorcycle, a 17-year-old shot in his abdomen by “an exploding bullet that ruptured his blood vessels,” a 47-year-old widow and mother of six driving her car shot “on suspicion,” a 57-year-old with diabetes suffocated from tear-gas during a raid, two teens shot respectively in the chest and, when his friend came to his aid, in the back of the head. Shot hiking, looking for work, watching a protest, walking with friends.
Two 80-year-olds were killed: One run over by an Israeli truck, one after a patrol claimed he “resisted a check”; soldiers dragged, gagged, blind-folded, zip-tied and dumped him in a warehouse where he died of a heart attack, his body left there. Seven-year-old Rayyan Sulaiman also died of a heart attack after soldiers chased him. Jana Majdi Zakarneh, 15, was shot twice in the face while playing with her cat on the roof of her house; Zaid Ghonaim, 15, was shot while hiding in a garage; among seven girls killed were Fulla al-Masalma, shot the day before her 16th birthday, and Hanan Khaddour, 18, shot walking home from school. At least five Palestinians died at the hands of not soldiers but settlers whose brutality is only growing. 12-year-old Ahmad Dawabsheh is the only survivor of a 2015 attack in which settlers fire-bombed his family’s home in the village of Duma, burning to death his mother, father, and 18-month-old brother Ali; today, settlers have attacked the village a dozen more times and Ahmad is still undergoing surgeries from a gruesome crime the uncle raising him bitterly blames on “not just one settler” but a murderous Occupation itself.
Its latest victim Adam Ayyad died when soldiers conducted a brutal early-morning raid on the Bethlehem-area Dheisheh camp to detain Adnan Ajouri. As they retreated, they fired tear gas, sound bombs and live ammunition at a group of furious, helpless young people who’d begun throwing stones; Adam was hit in the chest and died soon after, the third Palestinian killed in 2023. Hassan Manna, owner of the bakery where Adam worked, called him “a happy kid, with an electric personality” who’d been devastated by the killing of his friend Omar Manna, who also worked at the bakery, during another raid to arrest Omar’s brother. The two friends died within a month of each other.
After Adam’s death, a photo circulated on social media of a hand-written last will and testament his family reportedly found in his pocket. “I want to tell you martyrdom isn’t death – it’s an honor to yourself and the whole world,” he wrote. “Set your compass and point it toward the Occupation.”
Adam echoed the hope of recently killed resistance fighter Ibrahim al-Nabulsi that “the people will wake up.” “There were a lot of things I wished I could do,” he noted, “but we live in a country where realizing your dreams is impossible.” And where – unconscionably, inconceivably – 15-year-olds write their wills. May he rest in peace and power.