Palestinian officials exhumed the body of a disabled Gazan man Sunday as part of efforts to prove Israeli forces shot him in the head during recent protests and clashes.
“Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh’s body was exhumed this morning for another autopsy to refute Israeli claims that come as an attempt to evade their responsibility for this crime,” Mohammad Al-Najjal, the deputy justice minister in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, told AFP.
Najjal said the Palestinian authorities in Gaza decided that “in order to refute the occupation’s claims, the bullet in his head must be presented to international parties,” he added.
He said “the results of this autopsy will be presented to international parties including the ICC (International Criminal Court).”
It was unclear whether a full autopsy had been performed on Abu Thurayeh after his death on December 15 in the Palestinian enclave run by the Hamas terrorist group.
After the incident, the IDF launched an investigation into the death of the 29-year-old who lost his legs in a separate incident several years ago.
The IDF’s Southern Command concluded that Abu Thurayeh was not killed by Israeli sniper fire, and found that no live round had been explicitly aimed at him, but failed to determine the exact cause of death.
“No live fire was aimed at Abu Thurayeh. It is impossible to determine whether Abu Thurayeh was injured as a result of riot dispersal means or what caused his death,” the army said at the end of the investigation on December 18.
The military said it was hindered in its investigation by the fact that Palestinian authorities did not share the details of Abu Thurayeh’s injuries from the demonstration.
While failing to identify Abu Thurayeh’s cause of death, the army stated that its investigation had uncovered “no moral or professional failures.”
In early January, the IDF said it was handing the case to the Military Police for renewed scrutiny after obtaining previously unavailable information about the incident from groups inside Gaza.
The Associated Press reported on December 28 that it had received Palestinian medical records showing that Abu Thurayeh was killed by a bullet that struck him in the head. The medical records, which include a hospital report and a death certificate, said he was struck by a bullet above his left eye and died from bleeding in the brain. The same findings were detailed in a report by the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service reviewed by the AP.
The reports did not specify who fired the bullet or what caliber it was.
The IDF has maintained the demonstration on December 15 “was extremely violent and included thousands of rioters,” who threw rocks and rolled burning tires at the security fence itself and the soldiers on the other side of it.
The protest came amid a wave of violence that erupted in the Palestinian territories after US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.
Hamas urged Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers, and allowed thousands of Gazans to clash with Israeli troops at the border fence. Its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, praised the “blessed intifada” and made plain the group was seeking to intensify the violence against Israel.
Abu Thurayeh was a well-known figure in Gaza. While relatives have claimed Abu Thurayeh lost his legs in an Israeli airstrike while trying to rescue people, the Associated Press reported that its records show that he was wounded on April 11, 2008, in a clash between Israeli forces and Palestinian operatives in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. AP television footage from that day shows Abu Thurayeh identifying himself as he is taken away on the back of a pickup truck.
Abu Thurayeh’s story drew international news coverage, and thousands attended his funeral in Gaza. Addressing the funeral, Haniyeh praised him as a hero and a martyr, and vowed never to relinquish Jerusalem. “And I don’t mean East Jerusalem, but unified Jerusalem,” Haniyeh said, in footage screened by Israel’s Channel 10. “Not East Jerusalem and not West Jerusalem. Muslim. Muslim.”