The Palestinian Authority is blaming Israel for the death of 36-year-old Jawahir Abu-Rahma of Bilin. PA officials say Rahma died on Saturday morning of injuries sustained Friday, when she inhaled tear gas during a clash between IDF soldiers and rioters along the separation barrier.
IDF officials were surprised by the PA allegations. While Rahma was injured in the protest, she suffered only light injuries, and was released from the hospital hours before her death, an official said.
A second IDF source said the army has received “several conflicting reports” regarding Rahma's death, and was looking into the issue. However, PA medical officials have refused to hand over medical documents relating to Rahma's treatment or death, making investigation difficult.
PA media reported that Rahma was seriously injured Friday, and died in a Ramallah hospital the next morning. Media reports Saturday stated that aside from Rahma, an additional three PA Arabs were injured in Friday's clash, none seriously.
Saeb Erekat, head of the PA negotiating team, accused Israel of "war crimes" over Rahma's death.
On Friday, several hundred PA Arabs and foreign supporters rioted at the security barrier near Bilin. IDF soldiers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd after rioters began throwing stones at soldiers.
Rahma's brother Bassem was killed in a similar riot in 2009. He died when IDF soldiers responded with tear gas after being attacked with rocks. A tear gas cannister hit him in the chest, causing fatal injuries.
There are near-weekly protests at the security barrier near Bilin. Israel began building the barrier in 2003 after several hundred people were murdered by suicide terrorists who entered Israel from PA-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria.
The barrier runs between parts of Judea and Samaria that are controlled by the PA and Israeli population centers. While Israeli officials say that its purpose is to prevent terrorist attacks, the PA has accused Israel of using the fence to create a border, and PA Arabs have held frequent riots against construction of the barrier.