Defense for Children International-Palestine mourns the death of a staff member, Hashem Khader Abu Maria, 45, killed today by Israeli forces while peacefully participating in a solidarity march with Gaza.
Israeli forces shot Hashem in the chest with live ammunition as he stood still at the demonstration in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza after Friday prayers in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar.
Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth erupted when the Israeli military attempted to disperse the crowd with lethal force. Hashem was not participating in the violence when a bullet struck him from a distance of 100 meters (328 feet), witnesses told DCI-Palestine. Two other protesters were killed in the same march, and at least 10 sustained injuries.
“The DCI-Palestine family is shocked and devastated by the loss of our friend and colleague, Hashem,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “Hashem considered defending children’s rights as his purpose in life, not simply as a job. That he has become the latest innocent civilian to lose his life at the hands of Israeli forces is a tragedy. We offer our utmost condolences to his family.”
Hashem served as the coordinator of DCI-Palestine’s community mobilization unit, promoting constructive child participation throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. His most recent work focused on Palestinian teens monitoring and documenting child rights violations in Hebron.
He is survived by his wife Samira, his son Ayham, 11, and his two daughters, Siba, 6, and Majdal, 13.
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