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Two Palestinians are killed in a demo–but only Israelis count as witnesses

Israel/Palestine
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On 20 March 2010, Israeli soldiers raided Iraq Burin near Nablus after a demonstration by the villagers to protest ongoing restrictions on access to their lands near the illegal Jewish settlement of Har Bracha. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza reported:

At approximately 11:30, IOF moved into the east of Iraq Borin [sic] village, south of Nablus. A number of Palestinian boys gathered and threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who immediately responded by firing, but no casualties were reported. The Palestinian boys withdrew into the village, while IOF took position in the east of the village.

At approximately 15:00, a Palestinian civilian Ford transit minibus, driven by Zakareya ‘Adel Qadous, arrived in the village from Nablus. In the meanwhile, Israeli soldiers were positioning themselves approximately 30 meters to the east of the intersection of Iraq Borin village and exited their jeeps. The driver drove to the western entrance to the village. Approximately 100 meters from the intersection, in front of the mosque of the village, the driver found out that there were burning tires and that the street was closed.

He stopped and Mohammed Ibrahim Abdul Qader Qadous, 16, and Usaid Abdul Naser Qadous, 20, stepped out of the minibus. As the driver turned around to travel back to Nablus, Israeli soldiers opened fire at Mohammed, who was wounded by a bullet to the heart, and Usaid who was wounded by a bullet to the head.

A number of young Palestinians who were at the scene carried the two wounded persons back into the minibus. After the minibus drove for approximately 20 meters, Israeli military jeeps tried to stop it, but the driver managed to pass them and reach Nablus Specialized Hospital.

Mohammed was dead upon arrival at the hospital, while Usaid underwent a prolonged surgery, but was pronounced dead on Sunday morning, 21 March 2010. Usaid was student at an-Najah National University in Nablus.

Ha’aretz correspondent Amos Harel reported on March 23rd that immediately after the shooting, the IDF Central Command described the killings as "a regrettable incident" that should not have ended in the deaths and announced plans to probe the incident.

Two days after the second young man passed away, the IDF’s chief prosecutor, Major Avihai Mandelblit, ordered the army’s criminal investigation division to get to work.

For once it seemed like things might just be limping towards a glimmer of justice:

Military sources said the two Palestinians who were shot on Saturday in the village of Iraq Burin, near Nablus, were apparently killed by live Israel Defense Forces fire, contrary to the IDF’s initial claim that only rubber bullets were used.

IDF doctors met with Nablus hospital doctors Sunday night to examine X-rays of one of the men killed in Iraq Burin, which the Palestinians said show that a live bullet had penetrated his head.

Ussayed Qadous xray 1024
Photo: Salma aDeb’i/B’Tselem

Yet as the Ha’aretz report meandered towards its conclusion, it became clear that all of this "concern" was just business as usual, with the IDF spokesperson retreating into three classic positions that decades of evidence suggest must surely be written up in what would be the international relations Holy Grail of WikiLeaks… the official IDF spokesperson’s handbook:

1. The Combo Smoking Gun/Magic Bullet Theory

IDF sources said however it was not certain the bullet was a 5.56 mm., the kind used by the IDF, or a 7.62 mm., used by Palestinian security forces.

5.56mm rounds (L) and 7.62mm (R)
5.56mm rounds (L) and 7.62mm (R)

Of course! The M-16 (and derivative M-4 rifles) which are predominantly used by the IDF use standard NATO 5.56x45mm rounds, while the AK-47s predominantly used by Palestinian Authority forces use Russian 7.62x39mm rounds!

With CSI-Israel pointing out the obvious in this case, we should expect this to be a simple, quick and conclusive investigation: 5.56 mm = Israeli perp. 7.62 mm = Palestinian perp!

Unfortunately, the IDF investigators must have forgotten about Israel’s own Galil ACE Assault Rifle, based on the original late 1960s design by Yisrael Galili and Yaacov Lior and produced by Israel Weapon Industries Ltd, two models of which use the Russian 7.62x39mm ammunition and which are used by some IDF troops:

ACE22762x39
 

And I was really rooting for them this time!

2. The Doctor Is Feared More Than The Disease

They also said it was not verified the X-ray was of the Palestinian who was killed in this incident or of someone else.

Yeah, because Palestinian doctors living in warzones where more than 6,300 Palestinians have been killed within the last decade—roughly 2 per day, not counting those injured or maimed during the conflict, or merely routinely sick—are just brimming with spare time to create fake X-rays that are going to stand up to even a cursory professional comparison with medical records and photographic evidence.

Teams of them are waiting at the ready in tiny, remote villages like Iraq Burin, champing at the bit for the opportunity to create the needed documentation in minutes, every time Palestinians coincidently shoot a 16-year-old and 20-year-old Palestinian dropped off by a relative at the same time Israeli troops have been firing all kinds of weapons for several hours.

3. In The Kingdom Of The Blind The One Eyed Israeli Is King

The officers and soldiers at the site said they had only fired rubber-coated bullets…. Officers said it could be difficult to obtain the "full picture" of what had happened because the sergeant who shot the victims and his three soldiers are the only witnesses.

Ah, the crux of the matter. It doesn’t matter even if there were 100 Palestinian witnesses to the shooting or that, as the International Solidarity Movement reported, that there were 15 internationals present during the day’s events.

The problem is that there weren’t any Israeli witnesses, apart from the perpetrators themselves, who claim that they only shot with "rubber bullets."

I guess we know where this investigation will go. Nonviolent Palestinian activist Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed a year ago by the single shot to the chest of a long range tear gas cannister—the same pattern of intentional weapon misuse that also left U.S. citizen and ISM activist Tristan Anderson with serious brain injuries a month before him.

On March 28th, the IDF made a final statement on the events of Abu Rahmeh’s killing, reported in Ha’aretz:

"We have approached military officials for their comments on the alleged incident. After examining the materials we received, we came to believe there was no basis found to the claim a tear gas grenade was aimed and fired directly at Abu Rahmeh," the statement read.

"The inquiry shows that there are two possible explanations for the injury: A. The injured man was standing on an elevated spot, and intersected the firing line of the grenade or B. The ammunition fired hit the upper wires of the fence, which changed its trajectory."

As Ha’aretz also reported:

The incident was documented by three different video cameras. Abu Rahmeh’s family sent the footage to ballistics experts, who cross-sectioned the images and concluded the grenade was fired directly at Abu Rahmeh, contrary to rules of engagement for the weapon.

Do IDF spokespersons practice keeping a straight face?

Nigel Parry is a former webmaster of Birzeit University, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, and a longtime independent media activist. He currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

About Nigel Parry

Nigel Parry is a former webmaster of Birzeit University, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, and a longtime independent media activist, currently living in Pittsburgh, PA.

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