A Palestinian teen with New Orleans ties was killed in a clash with Israeli forces about 20 miles north of Jerusalem on Oct. 24.
Israeli soldiers patrolling north of Ramallah near Silwad said Orwah Hammad had taken a position along Route 60 and was preparing to throw a firebomb at traffic, and fired at him when he lit the fuse.
An Israeli army spokesman told Reuters the soldiers “managed to prevent an attack when they encountered a Palestinian man hurling a molotov cocktail at them on the main road next to Silwad. They opened fire and they confirmed a hit.”
A cousin, Moath, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that Hammad had been part of a group throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.
An uncle, Hakeem Khalek, told the Times-Picayune that he didn’t consider the incident a clash — “little kids throwing rocks or pebbles against live ammunition.”
The incident will be investigated by Israeli authorities. The U.S. State Department called for a “speedy and transparent investigation” while expressing “deepest condolences to the family of a U.S. citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces.”
Hammad’s funeral was held on Oct. 26 to allow his father time to travel from New Orleans. Thousands attended the funeral, which included clashes with Israeli soldiers.
Hammad was born in New Orleans, returning to the territories at age 6 with his mother and siblings, as his father split time between them and New Orleans.
According to media reports, Silwad residents said Hammad was the cousin of Ta’er Hammad, who killed 10 Israelis in a sniper attack in 2002 near Shilo. An uncle of his was reportedly killed in the first intifada.
The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans issued a statement: “We were saddened to learn of the death of Orwah Hammad… Our fervent sympathies are with his family, as the loss of any life is always tragic and painful. The incident is being investigated by the Israeli authorities, but as we wait to learn more about what happened, we continue our prayers and hopes for a meaningful peace that allows Israel and a Palestinian state to live together side-by-side as neighbors.”
Many of Hammad’s relatives attend the Muslim Academy in Gretna. School President Nabil Abukhader told the Times-Picayune that they will discuss his death on Oct. 27. “We’ll mention the nature of his death (and) at the same time in that moment of sorrow, that violence does not lead to any happy endings.”
The incident took place during a time of heightened tensions. On Oct. 22, a Palestinian motorist plowed into a crowd at a Jerusalem light-rail station, killing a 3-month-old girl who was a U.S. citizen, and a 22-year-old student from Ecuador.