Second pregnant woman shot by Israeli checkpoint troops

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The Independent Online

Israeli troops at a checkpoint shot and wounded a pregnant Palestinian woman in labor and killed her husband today as the couple tried to reach a hospital – a day after another pregnant woman was shot in an almost identical case at the same West Bank roadblock, Palestinians said.

Maysoun Hayek and her husband, Mohammed Hayek, both 22, were aware of Sunday's shooting in which a pregnant woman was hit in the chest at the checkpoint in Nablus. That woman, Shadia Shehade suffered moderate wounds and gave birth to a healthy girl several hours afterward.

But when Hayek went into labor early Monday, the couple had little choice other than to leave their West Bank village of Zeita and head toward the Rafidia hospital in Nablus, 12 miles away.

They brought her father­in­law Abdullah Hayek, 64, reasoning that the soldiers would not feel threatened by an elderly man and a pregnant woman.

At one checkpoint along the way, soldiers searched their car. They patted Hayek's stomach, checking to make sure her pregnancy was genuine, Hayek said. Then they were allowed to continue.

As they approached the checkpoint where Sunday's shooting occurred, Hayek said she heard a single gunshot.

"I saw my husband bleeding from his neck," she said in an interview from her hospital bed. Her husband lost control of the car and passed out, she said. The car continued a little farther before stopping, as soldiers fired at the wheels and windows, she added.

According to the army, soldiers opened fire when a car tried to get past an earthen barricade blocking the road, and ignored soldiers' orders to stop. When the driver attempted to reverse to detour around the temporary roadblock, soldiers shot at the car, the army said.

After the car came to a stop, Hayek opened the door and began yelling, "baby" in English, she said. Soldiers approached, and began administering first aid, placing her and her father­in­law on stretchers, she said.

Soldiers ferried Hayek and her father­in­law to another checkpoint, where they were transferred to a Palestinian ambulance, which took them to the hospital, she said.

Hayek gave birth to a healthy girl three minutes after she reached the hospital, said Dr. Samir Abu Zaror at Rafidia hospital.

Hayek was lightly cut on both shoulders, the doctor said. It was not clear what caused the wounds, though it may have been from shattered glass.

Abdullah Hayek was in critical condition after bullets penetrated his neck and chest, the doctor added. Hayek's husband was dead upon arrival at the hospital, officials said.

An APTN cameraman who saw the Hayek's car said it had multiple bullet holes.

The shootings Sunday and Monday both took place at a checkpoint on Al Quds street in Nablus, where the Israeli army took over a number of buildings last Wednesday. The buildings overlook the nearby Balata refugee camp and shooting exchanges between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen are frequent.

In addition, the Israeli troops in the area have received a warning that Palestinian militants intended to set off a car bomb alongside one of their positions, the army said.

Israeli soldiers at checkpoints have been especially wary since six soldiers were killed by Palestinian gunmen in a roadblock attack last week outside the West Bank city of Ramallah.

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