One of the three Palestinian students shot in Vermont demands Americans focus on suffering in Gaza – adding that ‘we’re just as human over there’

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A Palestinian college student who was one of three injured in a shooting in Vermont hopes the attack will prompt Americans to focus on the plight of people in his homeland.

Kinnan Abdalhamid, 20, was treated for minor injuries after he and friends Hisham Awartani and Tahseen Ahmed were shot on November 25. 

The group had been spending Thanksgiving together at Awartani’s grandmother’s home when they were approached by a random man while walking down the street in Burlington.

Abdalhamid suffered minor injuries after a bullet hit him in the right glute. He was subsequently released from the hospital. 

Ahmed, who attends Trinity College, was shot in the chest, and Awartani, who attends Brown University, was struck in the spine.

Police arrested Jason J. Eaton, 48, in connection with the shooting. He pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder last week. 

As the group makes their recovery, Abdalhamid said he and his friends are mainly concerned with the war in the West Bank. 

‘It’s impossible to see this in a vacuum,’ told the Boston Globe. ‘It makes no sense to do that.’ 

Kinnan Abdalhamid, 20, is urging people to consider the suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank

Kinnan Abdalhamid, 20, is urging people to consider the suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank

Abdalhamid (center), Hisham Awartani and Tahseen Ahmed were wearing keffiyeh scarves and chatting in English and Arabic when they were shot on November 25

 Abdalhamid (center), Hisham Awartani and Tahseen Ahmed were wearing keffiyeh scarves and chatting in English and Arabic when they were shot on November 25

Abdalhamid was shot in the right groin and only suffered minor injuries

Abdalhamid was shot in the right groin and only suffered minor injuries

 Of the accused shooter, Abdalhamid said: ‘We’re not putting all of our energy into this dude.’

The 20-year-old suspects the ‘dehumanization’ of Palestinians and the ongoing conflict in Gaza factored in to his motive.

Two of the students were wearing black-and-white kaffiyehs, a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, and the trio were speaking a mix of English and Arabic  in the moments leading up to the attack.

‘We’re just as human over there,’ Abdalhamid told the Globe. He was born in the United States and lived in the occupied West Bank from the time he was three years old.

He, Awartani and Ahmed graduated from the same school before enrolling at separate colleges in the United States.

All three men were treated at the University of Vermont Medical Center, but Awartani faces a grueling recovery as he was left paralyzed. According to his mother, doctors say he may never walk again.

The 20-year-old student, pictured with his mother Tamara Tamimi, says he and his friends are mainly concerned with the war in the West Bank, even as they recover

The 20-year-old student, pictured with his mother Tamara Tamimi, says he and his friends are mainly concerned with the war in the West Bank, even as they recover

Abdalhamid was born in the United States and lived in the occupied West Bank from the time he was three years old

Abdalhamid was born in the United States and lived in the occupied West Bank from the time he was three years old

He currently attends Haverford College in Pennsylvania, where he is a member of the school's track and field team

He currently attends Haverford College in Pennsylvania, where he is a member of the school’s track and field team

Abdalhamid encourages Americans to educate themselves on the conflict, adding: 'At least speak to a Palestinian before talking about Palestinians'

Abdalhamid encourages Americans to educate themselves on the conflict, adding: ‘At least speak to a Palestinian before talking about Palestinians’

He is on a pre-med track at Haverford and hopes to improve the quality of hospitals in his homeland of the West Bank

He is on a pre-med track at Haverford and hopes to improve the quality of hospitals in his homeland of the West Bank

Abdalhamid expressed his gratitude for the outpouring of support, adding that he is ‘recovering quite fast.’ He declined to comment on the condition of his friends.

The 20-year-old, who runs track at Haverford, said he recently received his EMT certification. He plans to attend medical school and wants to improve the quality of hospitals in the West Bank.

He added that he had been surprised by how little Americans know about the conflict in the Middle East, calling the Burlington shooting ‘light compared to what’s happening in the West Bank and Gaza.’

Abdalhamid shared that when he attended school in the West Bank, another friend was shot in the leg by an Israeli soldier during a protest.

‘At least speak to a Palestinian before talking about Palestinians,’ he said. ‘Palestinians need support, not sympathy.’

The man charged with opening fire on the three friends, 48-year-old Eaton, had a documented history of domestic violence dating back to when he lived in upstate New York.

Authorities have not yet declared a motive, but are investigating it as a hate crime, according to Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad. 

‘In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime,’ he told reporters. 

‘I have already been in touch with federal investigatory and prosecutorial partners to prepare for that if it’s proven.’

Jason J. Eaton, 48, of Burlington appeared in court last week and pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder

Jason J. Eaton, 48, of Burlington appeared in court last week and pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder  

First responders loading one of the victims into an ambulance after the Burlington shooting

First responders loading one of the victims into an ambulance after the Burlington shooting 

Eaton was staying in a multi-unit white apartment, where he was apprehended one day after the shooting

Eaton was staying in a multi-unit white apartment, where he was apprehended one day after the shooting

Vermont police said the 48-year-old did not appear to be known to them beyond several vehicle-related tickets from 1998 to 2016. He moved from Syracuse to Burlington over the summer.

Eaton was seized on November 27 and appeared in court the following day to enter a not guilty plea.

In an earlier statement, police said the victims had been walking on Prospect Street when they were approached by a ‘white male with a handgun.’

‘They stated that the person had not made any comments to them and had merely approached them while they were walking down the street, essentially minding their own business,’ Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said.

Burlington police encountered Eaton during a canvas of the homes in the area the day after the shooting.

After knocking on the door of his apartment, he allegedly told federal agents, ‘I’ve been waiting for you,’ and said he had a shotgun inside.

After executing a search warrant, authorities found a Ruger .380 pistol and ammunition inside a bedroom dresser.

The red-tipped bullets were identical to those found at the scene, according to a probable cause affidavit. Ballistics tests confirmed the match.

Investigators also located a .22-caliber rifle and two shotguns. The pistol used in the shooting was obtained legally in April through a federally licensed firearms dealer, Murad said.

Eaton is being held without bail pending a hearing. His attorneys have declined to comment. 

Post source: The List

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