The American Victims of Israeli-Palestinian Violence

In separate incidents this week, two people died in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Adding to a recent trend, both were U.S. citizens.

As violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank continued on Friday, another American became a casualty of the conflict. Reuters confirmed the death of Orwah Hammad, a 14-year-old boy, who "was born in New Orleans and came to the West Bank at age six." A State Department official (anonymously) confirmed his American citizenship.

Hammad, who was said to be part of a group of teens throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, was killed by fire from the Israeli army. The Israel Defense Forces said its soldiers had opened fire to "prevent an attack when they encountered a Palestinian man hurling a molotov cocktail at them on the main road next to Silwad," a West Bank village near Ramallah.

Hammad's death comes just hours after a Palestinian car attack wounded eight Israelis at a light rail station in Jerusalem. The one fatality in the incident was a three-month-old baby, who was also an American citizen. And so continues a trend in Israeli-Palestinian violence in which American citizens are prominently involved.

Back in June, three Israeli teenagers were abducted and killed in the West Bank. One of them, Naftali Frenkel, was a dual American-Israeli citizen. The deaths of the three teenagers are said to be linked to the death of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian, who was murdered by Israelis in Jerusalem shortly after the bodies of the three Israeli teens were discovered. While Abu Khdeir was Palestinian, Israeli police later faced international condemnation after they were caught beating up Tariq Abu Khdeir, Mohammed's cousin and an American citizen from Florida, on video.

American victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stretch back much further than 2014. The conflict itself has long been a magnet for American attention with U.S. citizens frequently joining sides as activists, advocates, soldiers, fighters, and new immigrants. Despite all this, Americans have rarely seemed so central to the fighting.