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The New Arab

Outrage as Egyptian troops shoot dead Palestinian man

The death of Isaac Hassan has spurred outrage [SNA, facebook]

Date of publication: 27 December, 2015

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Egyptian troops gunned down a 'mentally ill' Palestinian man who tried to swim from Gaza to Egypt, despite pleas from Palestinian guards to spare his life.
Outrage has followed the killing of a young Palestinian man with alleged psychological issues, who was shot dead by Egyptian border guards while swimming naked to Egypt.

The Palestinian interior ministry have accused the Egyptian military of "executing" the young man, as he tried to cross the border on the Egypt-Gaza coast in Rafah on Thursday.

"The appalling scenes which were televised of a mentally disordered young man being killed by the Egyptian army a few metres away from the Rafah border have reflected the aggressive nature of the action," the ministry said in a press release on Saturday.

A Palestinian border guard waved and pleaded with the Egyptian soldiers that the victim was mentally ill and unaware with his actions. The incident was caught on camera and broadcast by Qatari broadcaster al-Jazeera.

Others say that the man was physically challenged but not suffering from any major pyschological issues.

"Isaac Hassan did not have a mental problems, but had a physicial disability as a result of the occupation," wrote Gazan journalist Radwan al-Akhrs.

"He was suffering turmoil as a result of the pressure from which he experienced... he was taking off his clothes to prove he is unarmed. He was trying to pass the border in order to complete his treatment in Egypt after the despair of waiting on the Rafah crossing."

On social media, people showed their disgust at the soldiers' actions by using the Arabic-language hashtag "why did they kill him".

"Why did they kill him?" against a photograph of Egyptian soldiers dragging Hassan accross the beach [facebook]


Many Palestinians stressed that Hassan was clearly unarmed and not a threat.

The killing reflected Egypt's continued failure to show any empathy with Palestinians trapped in the blockaded Gaza strip, by opening border crossings.  

Egyptians were also quick to share their anger at the incident.

"We also face murder, torture detention and forced disappearances" said one Egyptian Facebook user.

"Why did they kill him? Because the same army kills Egyptians on the other side of the border," wrote one person on Twitter.

"The Egyptian army permits Israelis to cross the border... in contrast, they kill nude Palestinian teenagers with mental problems," said Ahmed Ghinem on Twitter.  


"Welcome to Egypt: you will all be safe here - God Willing" [Arabi21, facebook]


Others were not so sympathetic.

"I thank the great Egyptian army for what they did and I hope his body will be in 500 pieces," said infamous Egyptian talk show host Ahmed Mousa.

Gazan journalist Mahmoud Bassem said that the Egyptian army are attempting pressure Hassan's family to end the social media campaign.

In exchange, they will return their son's body back to Gaza.

The Palestinian ministry called on the Egyptian authorities to conduct an immediate investigation into the incident, and bring the soldiers' to court.

They also demanded that Hassan's body is immediately repatriated to the Palestinian side in Gaza.

Although Hassan, was originally thought to be shot dead by Egyptian troops, information from his father would now suggest he is still alive. 

Many feel that Egypt should do more to restore her reputation within the region. 

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