Family of teenager killed in Hebron calls fake gun story a ‘fabrication’

Israel/Palestine
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mohammad sal
Funeral of Mohammed Salayme. (Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters)

New details have emerged on the murder of 17-year old Mohammed Salayme that took place last night in Hebron, casting doubt on the Israeli investigation that determined the youth threatened a border policeman with a toy gun. His family, speaking in detail to press for the first time today, said that Salayme was not carrying a plastic weapon at all and allege the story was a “fabrication,” by the Israeli military. From Agence France-Presse (AFP):

Salayma’s uncle, Nasser, told AFP that the Israeli version of his nephew’s death was a ‘fabrication.’

‘The plastic gun story isn’t true and it is all fabrication,’ he said. Other relatives said Salayma was on his way to buy a birthday cake when the incident took place.

‘Yesterday was his birthday and he celebrated it at school and was going to celebrate at home, but it never happened,’ Nasser al-Salayma said.

Initially, Israeli media was quick to label Salayme a “terrorist” armed with an actual gun. Today the Times of Israel noted “Even Haaretz, which normally doesn’t miss a chance to highlight abuses of power by Israel’s armed forces, has a headline that says the Palestinian ‘attacked’ the Border Police officer, presumably by pointing the fake gun.” These stories followed similar reports from Palestinian news networks that said Salayme was carrying a plastic gun.

Part of the confusion on the details stems from an Israeli military imposed “media blackout” when the area near the shooting was closed off. Some reporters covering the death were even fired upon, abused, arrested and hospitalized. According to the International Solidarity Movement, four journalists were forced out of their car, made to strip down to their underwear and then beaten, before being turned away by the Israeli military:

The Israeli military closed off all the streets around the area where Mohammed was killed to prevent any journalists from reaching the incident. A car carrying four journalists was hit with several rounds of live ammunition and the journalists were stopped and forced from their car. The journalists, two from Youth Against Settlements, one from Reuters and one from Palmedia were forced to strip to their underwear in the cold evening air. The soldiers took their cameras and physically beat up the journalists resulting in them needing hospital treatment. A filmmaker who works for the Israeli peace group B’tselem who lives close to the shooting was surrounded by 12 soldiers, beaten up and arrested. Officers from the District Coordination Office For Military Affairs informed local activists the cameras would be returned to them tomorrow after being checked for evidence.

n border police
Photo released by Israeli border police of the solider, “N”
who killed Mohammed Salayme. (Photo: Jerusalem Post)

Following the first reports of Salayme’s death, pictures of the soldier accused of killing the youth circulated on social media, identifying the officer as Nofar Mizrahi (age 19 according to Israel Hayom). While the Israeli military censor forbids releasing the name and image of the soldier, today the Israeli press published pixilated photos of the soldier —otherwise matching those shared on Facebook— under the pseudonym “N.”

Nofar Mizrahi
Image circulating on Facebook of Nofar Mizrahi, alleged name/image of soldier responsible for killing Mohammed Salayme on 12 December 2012.

 The Jerusalem Post reported the young soldier was “content” that she killed Salayme, stating it was inconsequential that he did not have a real weapon, or pose a real threat:

It didn’t change it for me, because in those same moments you don’t have time to think or be confused. For me it was a real pistol in every sense of the word pointed at my soldier and it’s my responsibility to act, because if I don’t kill him my friend will be killed, and I won’t let this happen.

Continuing, “N” said she was “happy” no soldiers were hurt during the moments when she fired a half dozen bullets into the unarmed teenager:

After they investigated the incident it turned out it was a fake gun, but it didn’t change how I felt about it. I’m happy this ended with no injuries on our side and I’m sure any other officer in my situation would have done what I did.

Around 2,000 people attended Salayme’s funeral this afternoon in Hebron. After the procession Ma’an News Agency reported clashes again broke out between Palestinians and the IDF. And “Israeli forces prevented them[the deceased’s family] from burying Muahmmad in the al-Raas cemetery next to their home as it is close to an Israeli settlement, Kiryat Arba.”

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