Undercover Israeli agents pretending to transport a pregnant woman raided a West Bank hospital overnight and killed a Palestinian while arresting his cousin over a knife attack, officials said Thursday.
The Palestinian health ministry said 21 agents participated in the raid targeting Azzam Shalaldeh in the surgery department of the hospital in Hebron.
Israeli security forces said Shalaldeh’s cousin, 27-year-old Abdallah Azzam Shalaldeh, was shot when he sought to attack them. Shalaldeh himself, aged around 20, was arrested in the raid.
According to the hospital director, the agents were disguised as Palestinian civilians transporting a woman about to give birth.
Surveillance video purportedly from Al-Ahli hospital posted online appeared to back his account, with a group of men in plainclothes, including some seeming to wear fake beards, entering with someone in a wheelchair.
It later showed the agents leaving with someone else in a wheelchair, presumably the suspect, who was being treated at the hospital.
“They banned the medical team from moving and they took control of the surgery department, went to Shalaldeh’s room and banned anyone from entering,” said the hospital director, Dr Jihad Shawar.
“When they left, the man was found bleeding and (hospital staff) tried to save his life but he died.”
Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency confirmed the raid in a statement, saying that the man shot had “attacked” officers in an attempt to prevent them from arresting his cousin.
It alleged the suspect they arrested was behind an October 25 stabbing that wounded an Israeli near the Mezad settlement around Hebron.
The person who attacked the Israeli was said to have been shot during the attack, but escaped.
According to the Shin Bet, Shalaldeh is “from a family of Hamas militants”.
Bilal Shalaldeh, Shalaldeh’s brother who said he was in the room at the time of the raid, said it occurred around 3:00 am.
“They arrested my brother and tied me up, he told AFP.
My cousin was in the bathroom and when he opened the bathroom door, and without any warning or any words, they shot at him five times.”
He alleged that “all the other patients in the room started screaming while they let him bleed. They left the room after they knew he was dead and took my brother.”
Violence since the start of October, including a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks, has claimed the lives of 78 people on the Palestinian side — including one Israeli Arab — along with 10 Israelis.
Many of the Palestinians killed were alleged attackers.