A shocking video has emerged recording a loud verbal threat from the Israeli military to residents of Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem. As a military jeep rolls down an empty quiet street a threatening voice comes over the loudspeaker: “You throw stones and we will hit you with gas until you die.” The words spoken seem almost unfathomable.
Middle East Eye (MEE) reports the video was recorded on October 29 by a youth, 17-year-old Yazan Ikhlayel, on his iPhone. Ikhlayel was at Aida’s community center with a clear view of the road below. As Ikhlayel recorded the scene the jeep slows and then come to a halt as the threats continue. You can begin to see stones being thrown at 0:28 in the video. The threat also warns they were holding a person “one of you” and if Palestinians didn’t stop throwing stones the army would slaughter the person:
People of Aida Refugee camp we are the occupation army. You throw stones and we will hit you with gas until you all die. The children, the youth, the old people, you will all die, we won’t leave any of you alive. And we have arrested one of you, he is with us now. We took him from his home and we will slaughter and kill him while you are watch if you keep throwing stones. Go home or we will gas you until you die. Your families, your children, everyone we will kill you. Listen to me, all of you go home, it’s better for you.
The Middle East Eye spoke with Ikhlayel, “The most important thing I want people to see when they watch this video is to realise what the Israeli ‘democracy’ really is”. He also insisted this will not stop the protests:
“They have said it for us now, they are an occupation – they said ‘we are the occupation army’. It is proof, this is an apartheid country, it is not democratic at all.”
“This is the first time I heard them say something like that over a speaker for everyone to hear,” Ikhlayel continued.
“The young people aren’t accepting what the soldiers are doing particularly now. They’re going to the streets [to protest] everyday, and they aren’t stopping. They aren’t scared of them.”
When asked if he thinks the soldier’s message would scare the youth enough to stop the protests, Ikhlayel shook his head adamantly.
“This will not stop until the occupation ends,” he insisted.
MEE also interviewed filmmaker and photo journalist Mohammed al-Azza, who has been targeted and attacked by Israeli forces in the past. Like Ikhlayel, al-Azza also emphasized the soldier’s (unusual) self identification as “occupation” forces:
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the soldiers get on a speaker like that,” al-Azza said.
“But really we were surprised by one word – usually they call themselves the IDF (Israel Defence Forces), they don’t say the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) like we do, but that is something good for us, and for people outside the country to hear. They said it to us, ‘we are the occupation’….
“Usually when we talk about Palestine we are telling people abroad what happened, and it’s usually after the Israelis have done whatever they did, but now it’s good that the people can hear it from the soldiers. They said ‘we are going to kill you and we are going to do this and that’ in their message. It’s very important for international people to hear this sort of stuff that we are hearing all the time from them.”
Ma’an News reports: Israeli soldiers tell Palestinians: ‘We will gas you until you die’:
“In this statement, we see — among a range of potential criminal offences — a public threat to kill Palestinian civilians, and to execute a prisoner,”Simon Reynolds, Legal Advocacy Coordinator at the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, told Ma’an.
“Though such threats are appalling, they are not necessarily surprising. In light of the mounting civilian death toll among Palestinians, such threats merely add words to the deed.
“What we are seeing is an apparent policy of lawlessness in which Israeli forces can wield deadly force with virtual impunity. Especially troubling is that this is a policy that seems to have, at the very minimum, the tacit acceptance of the highest levels of government.”Numerous rights groups have publicly condemned Israel’s disproportionate military response while policing demonstrations and responding to alleged attacks.
“Indiscriminate or deliberate firing on observers and demonstrators who pose no imminent threat violates the international standards that bind Israeli security forces,”Kenneth Roth, executive director of Humans Rights Watch said on Oct. 11, after a HRW research assistant was shot and injured while observing a demonstration near Ramallah.