Two weeks after Israel’s military opened a probe into soldiers who cheered on the shooting of an unarmed Palestinian protester in Gaza, a second video has emerged depicting a similar incident in the West Bank where soldiers applauded the targeting of a demonstrator and took delight in seeing journalists exposed to tear gas.
The footage released today by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem shows three soldiers in the West Bank village of Madama outside of Nablus on April 13 firing fired stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets at nearby Palestinian protesters. The video was recorded by volunteers Mu’awiyah Nassar and Ahmad Ziyadah, and the soldiers were aware they were being video’d.
B’Tselem reported the soldiers were “50-80 meters” from Palestinian villagers during the incident. The group said in a statement that accompanied the video, the soldiers were “joyfully cheering about shooting a person trying to clear the access road to his home and calmly discussing other ways to hit him and the other people with him are part of the discordant soundtrack accompanying 51 years of occupation.”
B’Tselem provided English subtitles to the video: “I’ll toss it into the middle of the village,” said one of the soldiers of shooting tear gas towards the Palestinians, “it’s coming back, it’s coming back,” responds another, “it feels like you’re starting to choke here.”
One soldier then crouches and aims his weapons at the demonstrators ready to fire. Another tells him to delay shooting until a protester gets closer. “It’s far, it’s still too far. Wait for them to come nearer,” he instructed.
“As soon as he pops up, I swear I’ll give him,” said the kneeling soldier, aiming his weapons at a Palestinian off-camera. The soldier who is providing instructions added, “We need one good hit and that’s it. That’ll teach them not to throw stones.”
The soldier then fires his weapon and stands in delight, raising his fist and exclaiming “Haha!”
“You hit him!” exclaims the second soldier. “That son of a bitch,” said the soldier who fired.
The same three soldiers later muse over live rounds, which were not fired at villagers during the demonstration.
“One live bullet and the whole thing will be over,” said one of the soldiers. Another tells him, “We don’t fire live ammunition. We don’t need it,” adding a reference to the camera filming the unit, “We don’t need live fire. It’s not good for the video.”
As the recording ends, five more soldiers are seen standing nearby. The group discusses how the wind has shifted the plumes of tear gas they shot at demonstrators. One mentions relocating, “so the photographers will get all of the gas.”
B’Tselem said in a statement today, “Seven residents sustained injuries from the rubber-coated metal bullets the soldiers fired: two were taken to a hospital in Nablus for medical treatment, and the other five were treated on the spot.”