Nola teen killed in territories spoke of “martyrdom,” apparently involved in stone throwing

The funeral of Palestinian-American Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, who was killed during a clash in Samaria, in Al-Mazra’a Ash-Sharqiya near Ramallah, Jan. 20, 2024. Credit: Flash90.

From SJL and JNS reports

A Palestinian teen from the New Orleans area who was killed in the territories on Jan. 19 was reported to have been involved in rock throwing incidents at motorists on Route 60, and his mother told Arab media that he had always talked about “martyrdom.”

Leaders of the Masjid Omar Mosque in Harvey, across the river from New Orleans, issued a statement on Jan. 19 identifying the teen as Tawfik Abdeljabbar, 17, of Gretna. Media reports in the Middle East referred to him as Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, as there are different spellings and name usages between Arab countries and the U.S.

Tawfic Abdel Jabbar

Jabbar had been a student at the Muslim Academy in Gretna, and last summer he relocated to the territory to finish high school.

In a statement shared with JNS on Jan. 23, the Israel Police acknowledged reports of the “firearm discharge, ostensibly involving an off-duty law enforcement officer, a soldier, and a civilian.”

The statement did not say who opened fire, but police said the shooting “was directed towards a perceived threat, individuals purportedly engaged in rock-throwing activities along Route 60,” the main north-south highway in Judea and Samaria.

“Additional information indicated the potential fatality of a 17-year-old Palestinian due to gunfire. A comprehensive investigation has been launched by law enforcement to examine the circumstances surrounding the incident,” the statement concluded.

Earlier Arabic media reports, including in the London-based outlet Al-Araby Al Jadeed and Palestinian website Ultrapal, cited eyewitnesses who confirmed Jabbar had been part of a group throwing rocks at passing cars on Route 60 near Ofra, just south of Jabbar’s hometown. Ofra is about 20 miles north of Jerusalem.

An Israel soldier or civilian opened fire in self-defense, the reports suggested. When the terrorists tried to flee by car, Jabbar was reportedly hit by a bullet, causing the escape vehicle to overturn. WAFA reported that Jabbar was critically wounded and died at the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.

Jabbar’s uncle told Reuters that he had been participating in stone throwing. Such incidents have led to deaths and injuries among Israeli motorists and passengers, and are regarded by Israel as terrorist incidents.

In an article about “the martyr boy,” Ultra Palestine said eyewitnesses reported to them that “a group of young men from the town of Al-Mazraa Al-Sharqiya headed to a valley near Route 60 connecting Ramallah and Nablus, and in a section overlooking the Al-Mazraa Al-Sharqiya plain, they threw some stones at an Israeli vehicle, and a settler opened heavy fire at them. Hafez, who recently returned from the United States, was shot in the head.

“The eyewitnesses added that when the boys tried to withdraw in a four-wheel drive vehicle with them, their car overturned, and the wounded boy continued to bleed until they were able to get him up the mountain with the help of young men from the town who came to their rescue after reports of an injury, and the boy was transferred to the Palestine Medical Complex in the city of Ramallah. Before announcing his martyrdom.”

By contrast, the mosque’s statement relayed that Jabbar was shot in the head while he was riding in a car, and most Western media reports have barely mentioned the allegation of stone throwing. Another relative told the Associated Press that Jabbar and a friend were having a barbecue in a field near their village when he was shot by Israelis.

Jabbar’s mother, Mona Ajaq, told Al-Araby Al Jadeed on Jan. 22 that her son was “always talking about martyrdom.” Since the family returned to Samaria from the U.S. a year and a half ago, he regularly attacked Jewish drivers in the area of Wadi Haramiya, she noted.

“Tawfic was an outstanding student in school, and he hoped to become an engineer, but he obtained the greatest certificate in the world by his martyrdom,” Ajaq said.

Video footage of the funeral procession in Al-Mazra’a Ash-Sharqiya showed armed terrorists carrying automatic rifles, as well as a Kalashnikov rifle placed on Jabbar’s body.

“The door of Al-Aqsa is made of iron — only a martyr can open it,” mourners can be heard chanting in videos posted online, in addition to chants in favor of Hamas‘s Al-Qassam Brigades “military” wing, responsible for the Oct. 7 massacre of some 1,200 people in the northwestern Negev.

Hamas mourned Jabbar’s death, although the terrorist organization did not explicitly claim him as a member or operative.

Hafez Ajaq, Jabbar’s father, said at the Jan. 20 funeral that Israeli forces are “killer machines” that are “using our tax dollars in the U.S. to support the weapons to kill our own children.”

He also has been quoted throughout Western media belittling the idea that stone throwing on highways is a hazard. “So what? If they were throwing rocks 150 meters to the street, what is it going to do to a tank? Or to a jeep? Or to a car full of soldiers? You’re gonna shoot the car 10 times because a guy threw a rock?”

Highway 60 is a major civilian route, and there have been deaths from stone-throwing incidents there in the past, including infants.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called Jabbar’s death a “murder,” which “shows that President Biden’s unwillingness to call for an end to the ongoing Israeli genocide and ethnic cleansing is resulting in the deaths of American citizens and their relatives.”

Islam Elrabieey, a visiting scholar in MENA studies at Tulane, posted about the vigil at Masjid Omar, asking why no senators or representatives have spoken out. “Is it because they see Palestinians as human animals, as Israeli Defense Minister Yauv Galant stated? Or is it because they see Tawfik Abdeljabbar as one of the children of darkness, as the Israeli Prime Minister described them?”

In both cases, Galant and Netanyahu were speaking of the Hamas attackers of Oct. 7, not Palestinians in general.

The anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace New Orleans said “We demand accountability & justice. We demand an end to Israeli impunity & U.S. complicity.”

New Orleans Health Care Workers for Palestine posted “Israel murders New Orleanian,” saying it is “despicable” that the U.S. does not stand up against Israel.

Numerous Muslim and anti-Israel groups in New Orleans are holding A Ride for Tawfic, a memorial motorcade starting at Masjid Omar on Jan. 28 at 1 p.m., and proceeding to Veterans Boulevard. The ride is to “show Tawfic and his family our love, from the Mississippi to the Mediterranean.”

The New York Times profiled Jabbar on Jan. 21, describing his basketball skills and outgoing personality, saying the details of his death were “unclear” but “Tawfic’s family said he was hit after an off-duty Israeli soldier and Israeli settlers targeted the vehicle he was driving.” The Jan. 19 Reuters articles and others in the region mentioned stone throwing, which was not mentioned by the Times.

U.S. National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby extended Washington’s “deepest condolences” to Jabbar’s family on Jan. 22.

“Certainly a tragic killing by all accounts that we’ve been able to glean so far,” Kirby said.

“Our deepest condolences go to the family. He was 17 years old, just a teenager, so our thoughts and prayers are certainly with the family,” Kirby continued, demanding a “full, thorough, transparent investigation.

The Biden administration has “every expectation that those responsible for it will be held properly accountable,” Kirby added.

On Jan. 20, the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs, whose offices are located at the American Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem but which is a separate institution, said it was “devastated” to hear about Jabbar’s death. Its head, George Noll, visited the family to offer his condolences.

“We call for an urgent investigation to determine the circumstances of his death,” tweeted the Palestinian Affairs office on Jan. 20.

When JNS presented the evidence of Jabbar’s alleged terrorist activities, the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs did not immediately offer comment.

Between Oct. 7 and Jan. 15 alone, the Hatzalah Judea and Samaria rescue group recorded more than 2,600 terrorist attacks against Israelis in the area, including 760 cases of rock-throwing, 551 fire bombings, 12 attempted or successful stabbings and nine vehicular assaults. In such clashes and raids against terrorism strongholds, around 357 Palestinians have been killed, according to the United Nations.

From SJL reports and JNS reporting by Akiva Van Koningsveld. Edited Jan. 25 to add the motorcade information. Quotes from Ultra Palestine added on Jan. 29.