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.
Story about Woman Killed by Tear Gas is a Hoax, Says IDF
The IDF shot down an ugly Arab hoax Monday, after it had already been propagated worldwide. The Nana-Channel 10 website reported that a military investigation found that the woman who supposedly died when she inhaled tear gas at a demonstration Friday was not even present at the protest. She did not die of tear gas inhalation but of cancer, the IDF found, and had been lying in a hospital bed for ten days before passing away.
Arabs and leftists propagated the story that the woman, Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36, had inhaled tear gas at their weekly staged riot at Bilin, in Samaria. Adding pathos to the story was the allegation that she was the sister of an Arab who was killed in Bilin in 2009 after being struck by a tear gas canister. Israeli papers carried photos of her and quoted her as saying that she wishes to join her brother in Paradise.
The Palestinian Authority was quick to seize upon the story for lambasting Israel. "We condemn this abominable crime by the Israeli occupation army in Bilin against people taking part in a peaceful demonstration and consider it an Israeli war crime against our people," chief PA negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.
However, the IDF has now found that Jawahel Abu Rahma died of leukemia or lung cancer, and had been in Ramallah hospital for ten days before passing away. The story was a fabrication intended to delegitimize Israel, the IDF said.
It seems that Arabs in the PA have become creative in making up lies that make Israel look bad worldwide. Unfortunately, even when their lies are discovered, the damage has already been done and the refutation of the story will receive less publicity than the original libel did.